HomeInsurance LawTexas Courtroom of Appeals Nixes Plaintiff’s Lawyer’s Charges Award As a result...

Texas Courtroom of Appeals Nixes Plaintiff’s Lawyer’s Charges Award As a result of Offsets Preclude Prevailing Celebration Standing


The First Courtroom of Appeals in Houston affirmed an research that concerned math and alertness of the Texas Insurance coverage Code.  In Jones v. Allstate Car & Assets Insurance coverage Corporate, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 8896 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 6, 2022, no puppy.), the policyholder appealed a take-nothing judgment in desire of the insurer in a dispute over a partial denial of a house owners declare.  The policyholder sued her insurer for breach of contract, violation of the Texas Insurance coverage Code, and breach of the obligation of excellent religion and truthful dealing.  At trial, the jury discovered that the insurer did not conform to the coverage, engaged in unfair and misleading industry practices, and did not conform to the obligation of excellent religion and truthful dealing.  The jury discovered that $6,935 would somewhat and moderately compensate the policyholder for the insurer’s habits.  The jury additionally discovered that the policyholder incurred $27,000 in affordable and essential legal professional’s charges.

The trial courtroom accredited the jury’s findings, however rendered a take-nothing judgment in desire of the insurer and awarded the insurer its prices.  The trial courtroom reasoned that the insurer had already paid $4,670.67 at the policyholder’s declare.  The trial courtroom additionally famous {that a} deductible of $3,040 carried out to the policyholder’s declare.  As a result of those quantities, when mixed, exceeded the damages discovered by way of the jury, the trial courtroom ordered that the policyholder was once no longer entitled to any damages or different aid. 

On attraction, the policyholder asserted that Texas Insurance coverage Code §541.152(a)(1) entitled her to an award of legal professional’s charges.  The statute supplies {that a} prevailing plaintiff might download “the volume of exact damages, plus prices and affordable and essential legal professional’s charges.”  The courtroom of appeals assumed with out deciding that such language mandated an award of legal professional’s charges.  The courtroom of appeals surveyed government and held {that a} plaintiff should download a judgment in her desire and be awarded one thing, both financial or equitable, to qualify as a prevailing birthday celebration.  Conversely, the courtroom of appeals famous {that a} defendant that secured a take-nothing judgment is a prevailing birthday celebration.

The courtroom of appeals additionally mentioned disputes over the usual of overview and the reporter’s report which can be past the scope of this weblog submit.

The policyholder conceded within the courtroom of appeals that the trial courtroom was once proper in no longer awarding damages because of offsets.  However, she argued that she had prevailed as a result of she got favorable jury findings.  She emphasised a public coverage argument, that an award of legal professional’s charges was once essential underneath the Texas Insurance coverage Code to punish insurers for wrongdoing and give protection to shoppers. 

The courtroom of appeals rejected the policyholder’s argument.  The courtroom of appeals famous pressure between Texas government relating to whether or not entire offsets of jury awards precluded legal professional’s charges awards.  The courtroom of appeals prominent the ones government that might have allowed an award of legal professional’s charges by way of noting that they concerned claims and counter-claims, not like the moment case.  Surveying government, the courtroom of appeals handled the pretrial insurance coverage bills like pretrial agreement bills.  The courtroom of appeals opined that the insurer thus paid the entire quantity it owed to the policyholder on her claims prior to the trial even started.  This supposed that the policyholder didn’t be triumphant and can not recuperate her legal professional’s charges.

The courtroom of appeals hinted that the end result may had been other if the insurer had asserted the affirmative protection of offset and if the jury price have been introduced and made up our minds another way.  In any match, Jones underscores how the most important it’s for each side to correctly and realistically review their instances prior to continuing to trial.  Additional, even supposing the courtroom of appeals had allowed an award of legal professional’s charges, it won’t have allowed an award of $27,000 on a restoration of $6,935.

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