Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
IN RE: METROPOLITAN PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL, RELATORS METROPOLITAN PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL, Relators
HON. J. CLAY GOSSETT, Respondent
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
T. Worthen Chief Justice
Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan
Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan Direct Property and
Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan General Insurance
Company, Metropolitan Lloyds Insurance Company of Texas, and
Economy Premier Insurance Company (collectively
"Metropolitan") seek mandamus relief from the trial
court's orders denying its motion to transfer venue and
motion to sever. We deny the writ.
2013, Patti Wan was involved in an automobile collision with
Fidel Campos's minor son, an uninsured motorist. Wan was
covered by an insurance policy issued by Metropolitan that
included uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Metropolitan paid
Wan's property damage and bodily injury claims, less her
$250 deductible on the property claim. Metropolitan obtained
partial subrogation from Campos and entered into a repayment
agreement with him. Metropolitan reimbursed Wan's
deductible in April 2017.
to the collision, Wan sued Campos for personal injuries
allegedly sustained in the collision. In October 2017, she
amended her petition to include allegations against
Metropolitan for breach of contract, conversion, breach of
fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, and declaratory judgment.
She alleged that Metropolitan failed to timely reimburse her
deductible, and she sought certification of a class.
Metropolitan moved to transfer venue to Dallas County and
sever the claims against it from the claims against Campos.
Following a hearing, the trial court denied both motions.
This original proceeding followed.
is an extraordinary remedy. In re Sw. Bell Tel. Co.,
L.P., 235 S.W.3d 619, 623 (Tex. 2007) (orig.
proceeding). Mandamus will issue only to correct a clear
abuse of discretion for which the relator has no adequate
remedy by appeal. In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am.,
148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding). A
trial court has no discretion in determining what the law is
or applying the law to the facts. Walker v. Packer,
827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). A trial
court abuses its discretion by failing to analyze or apply
the law correctly. Id. As the party seeking relief,
the relator bears the burden of demonstrating entitlement to
mandamus relief. Id. at 837; In re
Fitzgerald, 429 S.W.3d 886, 891 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2014,
appellate remedy is adequate when any benefits to mandamus
review are outweighed by the detriments. In re
Prudential, 148 S.W.3d at 136. When the benefits
outweigh the detriments, appellate courts must consider
whether the appellate remedy is adequate. Id. This
determination is not "abstract or formulaic, " but
rather is a practical and prudential determination.
Id. at 136. Flexibility is the principal virtue of
mandamus relief and rigid rules are "necessarily
inconsistent" with that flexibility. Id. Thus,
the supreme court has held that "an appellate remedy is
not inadequate merely because it may involve more expense or
delay" than a writ of mandamus, however, the word
"merely" must be carefully considered. Id.
Appeal is not an adequate remedy when the denial of mandamus
relief would result in an "irreversible waste of
judicial and public resources." Id. at 137. The
decision whether there is an adequate remedy on appeal
"depends heavily on the circumstances presented."
Id. The decision is not confined to the private
concerns of the parties but can extend to the impact on the
legal system. Id.
first issue, Metropolitan contends the trial court abused its
discretion when it denied the motion to sever Wan's
claims against it from her claims against Campos. However,
Wan filed a motion to lift the stay imposed by this Court, on
grounds that she no longer desired to contest the
severance. In her response to Metropolitan's
petition, Wan withdrew her opposition to the motion to sever
and agreed to sever her claims against Metropolitan from her
claims against Campos.
as in this case, a controversy no longer exists between the
parties, the case becomes moot. Reule v. RLZ Inv.,
411 S.W.3d 31, 32 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no
pet.). When a judgment "cannot have a practical effect
on an existing controversy, the case is moot and any opinion
issued on the merits in the appeal would constitute an
impermissible advisory opinion." Id. An opinion
is advisory when it neither constitutes specific relief to a
litigant nor affects legal relations. See Houston
Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. Thomas, 196 S.W.3d 396, 401
(Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, no pet.).
because Wan has expressly represented to this Court that she
no longer contests Metropolitan's entitlement to a
severance, we conclude that this issue is now moot. See
Reule, 411 S.W.3d at 32. ...