Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United Automobile Insurance Services v. Rhymes

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

May 4, 2018

UNITED AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE SERVICES AND OLD AMERICAN COUNTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellants
v.
ALVIN GLENN RHYMES, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 95th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-15-07623

          Before Justices Lang, Brown, and Whitehill

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BILL WHITEHILL JUSTICE

         Appellee Alvin Glenn Rhymes sued appellants United Automobile Insurance Services (UAIS) and Old American County Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Rhymes claimed that (i) he was injured in an auto accident with Maria S. Hernandez, (ii) Maria was insured under an Old American auto insurance policy, (iii) he obtained a default judgment against her for about $54, 000, and (iv) he was entitled to recover on the Old American insurance policy.[1] The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the trial court granted summary judgment for Rhymes.

          The evidence established that Maria never gave notice of suit to or requested a defense from UAIS or Old American. The pivotal question in this case is whether that fact conclusively defeats Rhymes' claims. Because it does, we reverse and render judgment that Rhymes take nothing.

         I. Background

         A. Facts

         We draw these facts from the summary judgment evidence:

         Old American writes personal auto insurance in Texas through managing general agents like UAIS. UAIS handles any claims arising under Old American policies it issues.

         Francisco Hernandez bought an Old American personal auto insurance policy through UAIS. The policy went into effect in May 2011 and listed Maria Hernandez as an authorized driver. The bodily injury policy limit was "30, 012/person."

         In June 2012, Rhymes sued Maria S. Hernandez[2] in a Texas district court, alleging that he was injured in a June 2011 auto accident that she negligently caused. Maria was served with process but did not answer. In November 2012, the court signed a default judgment awarding Rhymes $53, 073 in damages and $737.95 in court costs against Maria. Rhymes sent a copy of the default judgment to UAIS over six months later.

         Meanwhile, Rhymes' attorney was also communicating with UAIS about the accident and attempting to settle his personal injury claim against Maria. UAIS made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Francisco and Maria about the matter before the default judgment was signed. Maria and Francisco never contacted UAIS or Old American, never sent suit papers to them, and never asked them to defend Maria.

         B. Procedural History

         Rhymes sued appellants. His live pleading asserted two claims: One was a contract claim based on Rhymes' status as a third-party beneficiary of the Old American policy. The other was styled a "Stowers/Negligence" claim based on appellants' "negligent failure to settle" Rhymes' personal injury claim against Maria within policy limits.

         Rhymes filed a motion for partial summary judgment "on the issue of coverage, " and Appellants filed a summary judgment motion seeking a final take-nothing judgment.

         Each side responded to the other's motion. Rhymes' response included evidence that he had obtained a turnover order in the underlying suit against Maria. The order required Maria to turn over to Rhymes all rights, title, and interest in the insurance policy.

         After a hearing, the trial judge signed two orders. One denied appellants' motion. The other order (i) recited that the insurance policy covered Rhymes' damages and (ii) awarded Rhymes $30, 012 against "Defendant."[3] Although the second order did not mention Rhymes' "Stowers/Negligence" claim, it implicitly denied that claim by including language sufficient to make it a final judgment.

         Appellants timely appealed.

         II. Issues Presented

         Appellants raise two issues. Their first issue argues that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment for Rhymes instead of for appellants because the evidence established that (i) Maria never gave appellants notice that she had been sued and (ii) the default judgment prejudiced appellants. Their second issue argues that the trial court erred by granting ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.