On May 16, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion in McAllen Hosps., LP v. State Farm County Mut. Ins. Co., (Tex. 2014) No. 12-0983. The Court held that a release given to a liability insurer by an injured accident victim is invalid when that accident victim does not pay a hospital lien. The Court refused, however, to shed much light on the remedy available to the scorned hospital.
Two injured people, Jose Gil and Melinda Hernandez, settled with the tortfeasor, Carlos Benavidez, insured by State Farm, after a collision. Gil and Hernandez incurred hospital bills of $53,564 and $1,281, respectively, but settled for only $5,200 and $2,100. State Farm, aware of the hospital lien, named the injured plaintiff and McAllen Hospital on each of the settlement checks. The injured claimants endorsed and deposited the checks without obtaining the hospital’s endorsement and without paying the hospital bills. After the hospital was stiffed by each patient, the hospital sued State Farm to recover payment up to the amounts of the settlement checks; the carrier refused to pay again, arguing that it had already protected the hospital (and therefore itself) by naming the hospital as a payee.
The trial court sided with State Farm on summary judgment, which the appeals court affirmed, but the Supreme Court reversed and...(Continue)