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.

In re Ace American Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

June 15, 2018

IN RE ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, UNDERWRITERS SAFETY AND CLAIMS, INC., AND DAWNMONIQUE LEE, Relators

          Original Proceeding from the 101st Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-17-02114

          Before Justices Lang, Myers, and Boatright

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JASON BOATRIGHT JUSTICE

         Relators were sued in state district court in Dallas County, Texas. They filed a motion to dismiss the case based on forum non conveniens, arguing that the real party in interest's claims should be litigated in Arizona. The court denied relators' motion. They have filed a petition for writ of mandamus in this court. We conditionally grant the writ.

         The real party in interest, Doug Vates, is the plaintiff in the underlying suit. Vates is an Arizona resident who injured his shoulder while working at a bakery in Arizona. He filed a workers' compensation claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona. Ace American Insurance Company insured the Vates workers' compensation claim, and it assigned Dawnmonique Lee, a Dallas County resident who was an employee of Underwriters Safety and Claims, Inc., to adjust the claim.

         The Industrial Commission of Arizona ruled that Vates had suffered a permanent partial disability and authorized medical treatment for him. The Commission also stated that it would authorize permanent benefits and medical maintenance in a separate notice.

         Before the Commission issued another notice, Vates sued Ace, Underwriters, and Lee in Texas. Vates alleged that Ace refused to pay insurance benefits in a timely manner and that its refusal breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing under Arizona law. He also claimed that Underwriters and Lee did not adequately investigate his claim and that they had decided to ignore evidence of his injury. Vates argued that this aided and abetted Ace's breach and asked for actual and punitive damages under Arizona law. Relators filed a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens and, when it was denied, sought mandamus relief here.

         To be entitled to mandamus relief, a relator must show both that the trial court has clearly abused its discretion and that relator has no adequate appellate remedy. In re Prudential Ins. Co., 148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding). A court abuses its discretion if its decision is arbitrary, unreasonable, or without reference to guiding principles. In re Pirelli Tire, L.L.C., 247 S.W.3d 670, 676 (Tex. 2007) (orig. proceeding). An adequate remedy by appeal does not exist when a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens is erroneously denied. Id. at 679. Mandamus relief is available from the denial of a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens. In re Bridgestone Ams. Tire Operations, LLC, 459 S.W.3d 565, 569 (Tex. 2015) (orig. proceeding).

         In their petition for writ of mandamus, relators contend that the suit is properly brought in Arizona under section 71.051 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, which provides that, if a court of this state finds that a personal injury claim "would be more properly heard in a forum outside this state, the court shall decline to exercise jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens and shall stay or dismiss the claim or action." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 71.051(b) (West Supp. 2017). When making this finding, a court must consider six factors. Id. We will discuss them one by one.

         1)An alternate forum exists in which the claim or action may be heard

         Vates does not dispute this factor. In addition, the relators stated in their motion to dismiss that they are amenable to jurisdiction in Arizona. The first factor under section 71.051(b) weighs in favor of litigating Vates's claims there.

         2)The alternate forum provides an adequate remedy

         Vates brought his claims under Arizona law. He does not dispute that the second factor favors a suit in Arizona.

         3)Maintenance of the claim or action in the courts of this state would work a ...


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.