A district judge has dismissed a lawsuit against a Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) insurance adjuster over a dispute for underinsured motorist insurance benefits from a policyholder injured in a 2018 car accident. The judge also scolded the plaintiff for failing to file the proper records in a timely manner and creating confusion.
The plaintiff Steve Chamberlin originally filed the lawsuit in 2018 claiming GEICO and Mr. Tyrrell failed to properly respond to his demand for damages. He alleged violations of the Texas Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Ms. Perry and Ms. Thompson argued that Mr. Chamberlin failed to provide specific facts for his allegations and a viable cause of action for the accused violations. Additionally, the attorneys argued that Texas law does not allow a person to allege a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and sue an adjuster working within the scope of his employment.
In May of this year, Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford entered two reports recommending actions on separate motions. The first report recommended that the court deny Mr. Chamberlin’s motion to remand and dismiss Mr. Tyrrell from the suit. In the second report, the judge recommended that the court grant in part and deny in part GEICO’s motion to dismiss and grant Mr. Chamberlin’s request to amend his pleadings.
Two weeks prior to filing reports, Judge Rutherford sent a letter to attorneys on both sides to find out if the circumstances had changed or active negotiations had started on the case, as any ruling on the reports would be unnecessary.
Ms. Perry and Ms. Thompson responded to the letter saying the circumstances were the same and they were waiting on a ruling. The plaintiff’s attorney did not respond. The magistrate judge entered the reports with recommended actions on the motions. The plaintiff’s attorney then filed an objection four weeks later to both reports and claimed after the judge sent the letter, the plaintiff had agreed to drop all motions except for a declaratory judgment action against GEICO. The plaintiff’s attorney stated that Judge Rutherford’s reports were moot because he did not have time to prepare his amended complaint prior to submitting the reports.
U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay disagreed with Mr. Chamberlin’s actions and stated the amended complaint was consistent with Judge Rutherford’s recommendations, and Mr. Chamberlin had ample time to file or respond to the magistrate judge’s letter prior to the submission of the two reports.
The case is Steven Chamberlin vs. GEICO Indemnity Company and Tom Tyrrell; Case no: 3:19-CV-2036-L, in the U.S. District Court Northern Division of Texas in Dallas.