Breaking News on UM/UIM
On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court set an underinsured motorist (UIM) mandamus case – Cause No. 19-0791, In re State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Terecina Shahan – for oral argument on December 2, 2020. The case revisits an issue presented to the Court in Weber v. Progressive Cty. Mut. Ins. Co., 2018 W. 564001 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2018, pet. denied) on Petition for Review. In Weber, the Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of extracontractual UIM claims as “premature” when there was no judgment establishing the liability of the tortfeasor and the amount of damages. In re State Farm addresses the question of whether a trial court abuses its discretion by refusing to abate the insured’s extra-contractual claims, and also refusing to require a separate trial on those claims.
In addition to the State Farm case set for oral argument, the Texas Supreme Court has requested briefing on the merits in connection with their review of Allstate v. Irwin, the San Antonio Court of Appeals opinion that allowed recovery of attorneys’ fees in a UM/UIM case. We can expect some needed clarification on some of the current issues in this interesting area of law in the coming months. Whether the clarification will be welcome to carriers remains to be seen, but we’ll certainly be tuning in on December 2 to see where the court seems to be headed.