Adams v. Consolidated Underwriters

Adams v. Consolidated Underwriters, 133 Tex. 26, 124 S.W.2d 840 (Tex. 1939), rev'g 97 S.W.2d 323 (Tex. Civ. App.--Beaumont 1936) arose from Ed Adams's worker's compensation claim against his employer's insurance carrier, Consolidated Underwriters. Adams initially filed a claim for compensation with the industrial accident board against his employer and Consolidated Underwriters. Adams was dissatisfied with the board's final award against Consolidated Underwriters and filed a lawsuit in district court to set aside the award. In Adams's original petition, he "made an error in the name of the compensation insurance carrier by inserting the word Casualty between the words Consolidated and Underwriters, and thereby named Consolidated Casualty Underwriters as defendant instead of Consolidated Underwriters, the correct corporate name of the insurance carrier." 124 S.W.2d at 841. Citation was issued on the original petition and served on A. D. Robertson as the agent of Consolidated Casualty Underwriters, and Robertson filed an affidavit essentially stating that he was not the agent of Consolidated Casualty Underwriters. Id. After Robertson filed his affidavit, Adams amended his petition to correct the name of the defendant. Id. Citation was issued on the amended petition and served on Robertson as the agent for Consolidated Underwriters. Id. In response, Consolidated Underwriters filed a plea in abatement and contingent answer arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear and decide the case because (1) Adams was required by statute to file suit within twenty days of the board's final award, and (2) he did not file his amended petition naming Consolidated Underwriters as the defendant until almost two months after the board's final award. 97 S.W.2d at 324. The trial court overruled the objection to its jurisdiction and rendered judgment in favor of Adams. Id. Consolidated Underwriters appealed to the Beaumont Court of Civil Appeals arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear and decide the case because the petition against Consolidated Underwriters was not filed within 20 days. Id. at 325. In a 2-1 decision, the Beaumont court agreed with Consolidated Underwriters and reversed the trial court's judgment. Id. at 324-26. The supreme court reversed the Beaumont court's decision and affirmed the trial court's judgment because the record affirmatively demonstrated that Consolidated Underwriters was actually served with process. 124 S.W.2d at 842. In short, Adams was not an appeal from a default judgment, and the record in that case affirmatively demonstrated that the defendant named in the judgment was actually served with process. Id.