Firm News

Bob Allen Guides Ace European to a Rare 91a Dismissal. Judge Awards Fees.

In a classic forum battle pitting a first filed Texas action against a California action over the same transaction, Bob Allen, working with Clyde & Co., secured a dismissal of a Dallas suit for declaratory judgment brought by Ringler & Associates in deference to a subsequently filed suit for damages brought by ACE European and other London based Underwriters against Ringler in Orange County California. The suits involve whether Ringler is responsible for the acts of its former Dallas-based agent, who instead of purchasing annuities to finance long term disability payments to employees of the United Nations, used the funds (totaling in the millions) to finance a Ponzi-scheme.

Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a was introduced in 2013 to allow dismissals of Texas state court suits that based on the pleadings alone are not based in law or fact. Rule 91a has not been widely used, however, because of a mandatory fee-shifting section that requires the judge to award fees to the prevailing party. Bob and ACE argued that Ringler’s Dallas action for declaratory judgment is not based in law because it is totally defensive filed for the sole purpose of depriving ACE and the other London Underwriters of their desired choice of forum to litigate their suit for damages in Orange County California. They argued in the alternative that the suit should be dismissed under Forum non Conveniens.

After an extended hearing, Dallas state District Judge Tonya Parker granted ACE’s Rule 91a Motion to Dismiss and in the alternative for Forum non Conveniens. In so doing, she also awarded ACE its attorneys fees.