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Claimant Has No Justiciable Controversy Against Insurer
10.15.05

The San Antonio Court of Appeals recently affirmed, in a memorandum opinion, that a claimant under a liability policy has no cause of action against the defendant’s insurer, prior to judgment, as there is no justiciable controversy. In Yeager v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., Memo. Op. No. 04-05-00002 (Tex. App.--San Antonio, Aug. 17, 2005), the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of State Farm in a declaratory action.

The claimant, who had suffered damage to her vehicle when she struck a calf owned by the insured, and loose on the road, sought to bring suit directly against State Farm. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of State Farm and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The court found that State Farm’s obligations to the insured were as her automobile liability insurer, and the rights at stake were the insured’s, and not the claimant’s. Therefore, the court found that no justiciable controversy existed.

While this case was limited to the claimant’s action against an insurer, it seems logical that the same result would be reached, in regard to the perpetual issue of whether a claimant should be joined in a declaratory action brought by the insurer.