Motion to Sever and Abate Granted in Dallas County District Court
Nov 30, 2021
Dallas partner Rhonda Thompson and associate Arielle Comer were granted a motion to sever and abate for their client, a major insurance carrier. Prior to this hearing, it was uncommon for a Dallas County judge to rule in favor of a motion to sever and abate. However, in her argument, Arielle cited a case from the Texas Supreme Court (Liberty Nat Fire Ins. Co. v. Akin) that created a precedence for this action.
The case arose out of a residential property claim. After being denied coverage to repair alleged damage to their home, the Plaintiffs sued the insurance carrier. After making a settlement offer (which was rejected), the insurance carrier asked the Court to sever the alleged extracontractual causes of action into a separate lawsuit and to abate that extra-contractual lawsuit and related discovery until after the alleged breach of contract claim is presented to a jury.
In most cases in which the insurer has made a settlement offer on the contract claim, the trial court should segregate the claims. Without severance and abatement, trying the contract and bad faith claims would ultimately result in undue prejudice.
The court agreed and the defendant’s order to sever and abate extra-contractual claims from breach of contract claim was granted.