Sunday, June 10, 2007

Justices Frost and Edelman Part Ways on Standing Issue

Panel divided on nonparty law firm's standing to pursue breach of settlement and attorney's fee claim

Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company of America v. Criaco (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Jun. 7, 2007)(Frost)(standing))(auto-PI, UIM coverage, workers comp, standing, attorneys fees)
Dissenting Opinion by Justice Edelman Yasuda Fire and Marine Ins. Co. of America v. Criaco (Standing)

In this appeal stemming from the settlement of claims arising from a car wreck involving a plaintiff injured in the course and scope of his employment, the panel split on the issue on whether the law firm that handled the insurance claims had standing to pursue attorneys fees for recovery of the workers compensation lien. Justice Richard Edelman forcefully argues that the law firm, which was neither a party, nor a beneficiary of the settlement agreement that was allegedly breached, was jurisdictionally barred from pursuing its claim for lack of standing, and that the trial court's judgment should be vacated for want of subject matter jurisdiction. The panel's majority, however, in an opinion written by Justice Frost, finds in favor of jurisdiction, reverses the trial court's judgment, and renders a take-nothing judgment on the merits.

Disposition: Reversed and Rendered
Majority Opinion by Justice Frost
Dissenting Opinion by Justice Edelman
Panel members: Justices Anderson, Edelman and Frost
Appellate cause no: 14-05-00851-CV
Style: Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company of America, Sompo Japan Insurance Co. of America v. Miller Criaco D/B/A Criaco & Corteguera
Trial court: 405th District Court of Galveston County (Judge Wayne J. Mallia)

Legal lingo: standing, attorneys fees, PI-Auto, UIM coverage, insurance, workers compensation, enforceability of Rule 11 agreement, absence of express merger clause, breach of settlement agreement and release

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