Thursday, October 20, 2011
Double recovery barred under the one-satisfaction rule
Under Texas rules of civil procedure, it is permissible to plead even inconsistent theories of recovery in the alternative, but dual recovery on different legal theories is precluded if there was only a single injury.
ONE-SATISFACTION RULE - BAR ON DOUBLE RECOVERY ON MULTIPLE THEORIES OR CAUSES OF ACTION
Pursuant to Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 48, a party may plead "as many separate claims or defenses as he has regardless of consistency." The "one satisfaction rule" provides that a plaintiff cannot obtain more than one recovery for the same injury. Waite Hill Servs., Inc. v. World Class Metal Works, Inc., 959 S.W.2d 182, 184–85 (Tex.1998); Borden v. Guerra, 860 S.W.2d 515, 528 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1993, writ dism’d by agr.) (citing Stewart Title Guar. Co. v. Sterling, 822 S.W.2d 1, 7 (Tex. 1991)). This rule is based on the principle that, with only one injury, "there can, in justice, be but one satisfaction for that injury." Id. When a plaintiff pleads alternate theories of liability, a judgment that awards damages based upon both theories does not amount to a double recovery if the theories of liability arise from two separate and distinct injuries, and there has been a separate and distinct finding of damage on both theories of liability. Birchfield v. Texarkana Mem’l Hosp., 747 S.W.2d 361, 367 (Tex. 1987); Berry Prop. Mgmt, Inc. v. Bliskey, 850 S.W.2d 644, 664–66 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 1993, writ dism’d by agr.).
An impermissible double recovery occurs when there is only one injury, the theories of liability are mutually exclusive, or there are no separate damages findings based on the alternate theories of liability. See Southern Cty. Mut. v. First Bank & Trust, 750 S.W.2d 170, 173–174 (Tex. 1988); Birchfield, 747 S.W.2d at 367. When confronted with a situation of double recovery, the affirmative defense of election of remedies, under certain circumstances, bars a person from pursuing two inconsistent remedies. See generally Bocanegra v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 605 S.W.2d 848, 850–52 (Tex. 1980).9 The Bocanegra court articulated the following test for the election doctrine to bar relief: (1) one successfully exercises an informed choice; (2) between two or more remedies, rights, or states of facts; (3) which are so inconsistent as to; (4) constitute manifest injustice. Id.; Medina, 927 S.W.2d at 600.
SOURCE: CORPUS CHRISTI/EDINBURG COURT OF APPEALS - 13-08-00263-CV - 10/20/11
THE FEDERAL DESPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION AS RECEIVER FOR WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK v. DAVID MARION WHITE--Appeal from County Court at Law No 1 of Dallas County (transferred case)
We hold that the damages awarded to White constitute two separate and distinct injuries, with separate and distinct findings of damages on different theories of liability. See Birchfield, 747 S.W.2d at 367. Further, White’s damages are not so inconsistent as to constitute a manifest injustice. See Bocanegra, 605 S.W.2d at 850. We overrule Washington Mutual’s third issue.