A Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed unsettled Stowers issues of whether there is 1) a valid Stowers demand if only some beneficiaries agree to release all claims and 2) if there is not an offer to release all insureds. Patterson v. Home State County Mutual Insurance Company, 2014 WL 1676931 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 24, 2014, no pet.).
The plaintiffs were a husband and two children who claimed to be beneficiaries in a wrongful death case. The two children offered to release all claims in exchange for policy limits. A second offer was made by the husband to release his claims in exchange for policy limits. Later, a third offer was made by all plaintiffs that included a release of all of the beneficiaries’ claims, but not release all possible insureds. The insurer rejected all offers and the trial resulted in awards in excess of policy limits.
A subsequent Stowers lawsuit was commenced. The trial court held that the first two demands were not valid Stowers demands because a release of some but not all beneficiaries is not a full release of claims. The appellate court affirmed, and further found that the plaintiffs’ third offer was not a valid Stowers demand because it did not offer to release all insureds. The policy included a provision that the policy covered “[a]nyone else while using with your permission a covered auto you own, hire or borrow.” Since the offer did not release the driver who was considered an insured under the policy, the appellate court determined that this was not an unconditional offer for a full release.