Appeal from the 53rd District Court Travis County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. D-1-GN-17-002018
consists of Justices Lloyd, Kelly, and Hightower.
RICHARD HIGHTOWER, JUSTICE
contract-formation case asks whether a letter or a signed
release, both of which materially altered the terms of the
preceding offer, constitutes an acceptance that creates an
enforceable settlement agreement. Following an auto accident
with appellee Maria Pond, appellant Bouchra Eid made a
time-sensitive demand to State Farm, Pond's liability
insurer, for the automobile policy's limits in exchange
for Bouchra's settling all claims. Bouchra and State Farm
then proceeded to exchange a series of communications that
ended with Bouchra suing Pond for negligence. Pond secured
summary judgment, arguing that a settlement agreement had
been reached and that Bouchra breached its terms by filing
and maintaining this lawsuit. Because Bouchra and State Farm
never had a meeting of the minds on the material terms of the
agreement, a contract did not form. We therefore reverse the
Maria Pond collided her vehicle into another that was
carrying appellant Bouchra Eid, her husband Maaz Eid, and her
son Omar Eid. The collision allegedly injured each of the
Eids. The Eids hired Andrew Traub as their attorney. In three
separate letters, Traub informed Pond's liability
insurer, State Farm, that he was representing Maaz, Omar, and
Bouchra and that each would be making a "claim for
damages." In three separate responses, State Farm Claim
Specialist Laronda Benson responded to Traub acknowledging
the representation and asking for more information.
April 11, 2017 letter to Benson on Bouchra's behalf laid
out the terms of a settlement offer. The letter stated:
[W]e hereby request a settlement in the amount of the policy
limits . . . .
This is a Clear and Unequivocal Opportunity To
Globally Settle This Case And Protect Your Insured From The
Consequences Of A Verdict and Judgment In Excess Of The
Limits of The Insurance Policies.
In exchange for a tender of policy limits, [Bouchra] will
provide a complete release of your insured, with
indemnification for all other claims which might be asserted
by, through or under [Bouchra]. As part of any settlement
agreement, your insured will be released from all liens
arising by, through or under [Bouchra] . . . . This offer is
intended as a complete and unconditional settlement of the
This settlement offer is based upon the Stowers Doctrine . .
We hereby make demand upon you for tender before the
expiration of 14 days from your receipt of this demand.
days later, on April 24, 2017, Benson responded:
We received your . . . time limit demand for your client,
Bouchra Eid. We have concluded the evaluation of your
client's claim resulting from this loss. Based on the
documentation provided, State Farm is willing ...