Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
T. WORTHEN CHIEF JUSTICE.
original proceeding, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance
Company seeks mandamus relief from the trial court's May
24, 2017 order compelling discovery related to severed and
abated claims arising from uninsured/underinsured motorist
insurance coverage and July 26 order denying Allstate's
motion for reconsideration. We conditionally grant the writ.
underlying suit arises out of a car accident that occurred in
January 2015. Margarita Galaz was injured when her vehicle
was struck by a vehicle driven by Larry Edward Lowrey. Galaz
filed a claim with Lowrey's insurance provider and
subsequently reached a settlement with Lowrey's insurer.
was also insured under an automobile insurance policy
underwritten by Allstate. The insurance policy provides for
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Under this
provision, Allstate is obligated to pay compensatory damages,
which Galaz is entitled to recover from the owner or operator
of an uninsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury
sustained by an insured and caused by an accident. In
February 2016, Galaz made an underinsured motorist demand on
Allstate. In March, Allstate informed Galaz that her claim
did not appear to "pierce the threshold for an
Underinsured Motorist claim" and that it would not be
making any settlement offers at that time.
Galaz sued Allstate, asserting that Lowrey's negligence
caused the accident and that Lowrey was underinsured. She
sought payment under the uninsured/underinsured motorist
coverage and asserted violations of the Texas Insurance Code
based on Allstate's failure to pay policy benefits. The
parties agreed to sever and abate the Insurance Code claims.
Thus, the extracontractual claims were severed and abated but
the contractual claim proceeded in the underlying case.
served Allstate with interrogatories, requests for
admissions, and requests for production. These requests
sought discovery of documents and information regarding
Allstate's basis for its alleged denial of Galaz's
claim for underinsured motorist coverage. Allstate filed
objections and responses to the requests contending that the
information was protected by the work product and trade
secret privileges and was only relevant to the abated claims.
On January 18, 2017, Galaz filed a motion to compel discovery
responses and a privilege log. On January 26, at a hearing on
the motion, the trial court verbally limited discovery to the
following topics, which were outlined in a letter from
Galaz's counsel to Allstate's counsel:
(1) [T]he contents, terms, and conditions of the insurance
policy at issue in the lawsuit;
(2) Any policy defenses upon which [Allstate] may rely in the
trial of this case;
(3) Any conditions precedent which [Allstate] may allege that
[Galaz] failed to comply with;
(4) [Allstate's] factual and legal contentions regarding
the damages [Galaz] is entitled ...