NATIONWIDE OBTAINS FAVORABLE OPINION REGARDING THE IMPROPER JOINDER OF AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER

October 22, 2012

Last week in George Green v.  Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Yolanda Alvarez, No.  A-12- CV-600LY, (W.D.  Tex.  October 17, 2012), the District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an opinion wherein the court refused to remand a case back to state court on the basis that an insurance adjuster was improperly joined to defeat federal diversity jurisdiction.  Plaintiff filed an action against Nationwide Insurance Company (“Nationwide”) and Nationwide’s claims adjuster in Texas state court for claims arising out of a December 5, 2008 motor vehicle accident.  Plaintiff’s causes of action against Nationwide and the insurance adjuster included breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, and DTPA violations.  Counsel for Nationwide removed the lawsuit to federal court, and Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the lawsuit back to state court.

The Court determined the Plaintiff failed to present any reasonable basis that he could recover against the insurance adjuster.  The court went on to explain that the insurance adjuster cannot be held liable for breach of contract since she was not a party to the contract, and the common law duty of good faith and fair dealing does not extend to an insurance company’s adjusters.  Last, the court evaluated Plaintiff’s Original Petition and effectively determined that Plaintiff’s boilerplate language was not sufficient to sustain a DTPA cause of action against the insurance adjuster.

Editor’s Note: Patrick Kemp and Robert Russell from the firm’s Austin office handled the briefing, and MDJW is pleased to have had the opportunity to obtain such a favorable opinion out of the Western District of Texas.