NO DAMAGES? THEN NO ATTORNEY’S FEES!
Recently, in Jones v. Allstate vehicle and Property Insurance Company, 2022 WL 17419386 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] December 6, 2022) the Texas Court of Appeals in Houston held Jones not a “prevailing party” and therefore not entitled to her attorney’s fees, even though the jury awarded her money.
Oneida Jones sued her insurer Allstate for allegedly wrongfully denying her homeowner policy claim. She won the trial. The jury found that she was entitled to $6,935 for Allstate’s conduct, and that she incurred $27,000 in reasonable, necessary attorney’s fees. The Court noted that Allstate had already paid her $4,670, and her deductible was $3,040. Because the total of those two amounts exceeded the $6,935 the jury had awarded, the Court held that Jones would take nothing from the verdict, including attorney’s fees and court costs.
Jones argued that she was entitled to attorney’s fees and court costs because she was a “prevailing party” entitled to them under Chapter 541 of the Insurance Code. The Court noted that generally, a prevailing party is the one “vindicated by the trial court’s judgment, not the jury’s verdict.” With this reasoning in mind, “Allstate paid the full amount it owed Jones on her claims before trial, which means that Jones did not prevail and cannot recover attorney’s fees.”