Sitting for the court: Justice Paul W. Green, Justice Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Justice Phil Johnson, Justice David Medina, Justice Dale Wainwright, Justice Don R. Willett, Justice Scott A. Brister, Justice Harriet O'Neill
Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Paula Ledbetter, et al.
from Jones County and the 11th District Court of Appeals, Eastland
For petitioner: Mary A. Keeney, Austin
For respondents: Lance Hall, Sweetwater
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue of whether challenge to nonsuit leaving only an estate in case workers comp insurer claims subrogation rights.
Principal issues are (1) whether a challenge to a trial court's granting a nonsuit should be reviewed for abuse of discretion or de novo; (2) whether the trial court erred by allowing the nonsuit to be granted; and (3) whether Texas Mutual's intervention plea was proper. In this case Texas Mutual, which had been paying Ledbetter death benefits under a workers compensation policy, petitioned to intervene in a settlement hearing in a negligence suit Ledbetter filed. The insurance company claimed it had subrogation rights against the settlement proceeds for benefits it had paid. At that hearing, Ledbetter moved to drop all plaintiffs bringing claims over her husband's death, leaving only his estate in the suit. The trial court granted the nonsuit, struck Texas Mutual's intervention, ordered that it was not entitled to reimbursement and that it must continue payments. In this Court, Texas Mutual argues that the decision to grant the nonsuit must be reviewed in its entirety and that the nonsuit was improper because it prejudiced Texas Mutual's claim for affirmative relief by an adverse party. The court of appeals held that the nonsuit did not affect Texas Mutual's subrogation rights but that the trial court erred by striking the intervention.