National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc., No. 96-0633

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation939 S.W.2d 139
Decision Date21 February 1997
Docket NumberNo. 96-0633
Parties40 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 353 NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA, Petitioner, v. MERCHANTS FAST MOTOR LINES, INC., Merchants of Texas, Inc., Merchants Truckload Company, Inc., and Gordon D. Hart, Respondents.

Page 139

939 S.W.2d 139
40 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 353
NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PA, Petitioner,
v.
MERCHANTS FAST MOTOR LINES, INC., Merchants of Texas, Inc.,
Merchants Truckload Company, Inc., and Gordon D.
Hart, Respondents.
No. 96-0633.
Supreme Court of Texas.
Feb. 21, 1997.

Page 140

Susan L. Abbott-Schwartz, Dana Shelhimer, Dallas, for Petitioner.

Malcolm Schulz, Abilene, Arlen D. Bynum, Dallas, for Respondents.

OPINION

PER CURIAM

This is a declaratory judgment action. The issue is whether a truck driver's allegedly negligent discharge of a gun, killing a

Page 141

passenger in another vehicle, triggers a duty to defend under the truck owner's vehicle liability policy. The trial court rendered summary judgment holding the insurer had no duty to defend. The court of appeals reversed. We reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and render judgment for the insurer.

The underlying pleadings allege that while operating a Merchants Fast Motor Lines truck, Gordon D. Hart "negligently discharged a firearm and caused a bullet to strike" Casimiro Gonzalez, who was a passenger in a van traveling alongside Hart's truck. Gonzalez later died from the gunshot wound. These are the only facts about the shooting in the pleadings. Gonzalez's parents and children brought a wrongful death action, alleging that Hart was negligent in handling a firearm. They also alleged that Merchants was negligent in hiring Hart and in failing to provide proper supervision of its driver. Merchants and Hart requested that National Union defend them in the underlying suit under either a commercial general liability policy or a truckers policy that National Union issued. National Union disputed its duty to defend Hart under the CGL policy in both its declaratory judgment action and on appeal. However, in a single point of error to this Court, National Union complains only that the court of appeals erred in reversing the summary judgment on its duty to defend Merchants and Hart under the truckers policy.

National Union's truckers policy provides:

We will pay all sums an insured legally must pay as damages because of bodily injury or property damage to which this insurance applies, caused by an accident and resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered auto.

Although the court of appeals cautioned that a fully developed record was necessary to determine whether coverage exists, it held that plaintiffs' allegations stated a cause of action potentially covered by the policy. We disagree.

If a petition does not allege facts within the scope of coverage, an insurer is not legally required to defend a suit against its insured. American Physicians Ins. Exch. v. Garcia, 876 S.W.2d 842, 848 (Tex.1994); Fidelity & Guar. Ins. Underwriters, Inc. v. McManus, 633 S.W.2d 787, 788 (Tex.1982). An insurer's duty to defend is determined by the allegations in the pleadings and the language of the insurance policy. Heyden Newport Chem. Corp. v. Southern Gen. Ins. Co., 387 S.W.2d 22, 26 (Tex.1965); American Physicians, 876 S.W.2d at 847-48; Argonaut Southwest Ins. Co. v. Maupin, 500 S.W.2d 633, 636 (Tex.1973). This is sometimes referred to as the "eight corners" rule. See Cluett v. Medical Protective Co., 829 S.W.2d 822, 829 (Tex.App.--Dallas 1992, writ denied).

When applying the eight corners rule, we give the allegations in...

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459 practice notes
  • Mbm Financial v. Woodlands Operating Co., No. 08-0390.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • 28 Agosto 2009
    ...Co. v. Griffin, 955 S.W.2d 81 (Tex. 1997) (per curiam); Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d 139 (Tex. 1997) (per curiam); Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Sanford, 879 S.W.2d 9 (Tex. 1994) (per curiam). 44. See, e.g., Mann Frankfort Stei......
  • Bitco Gen. Ins. Corp. v. Acadia Ins. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-526
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 16 Diciembre 2019
    ...v. Mid-Continent Cas. Co. , 630 F.3d 451, 457 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc. , 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex. 1997) ); accord United Fire & Cas. Co. v. Kent Distrib., Inc. , 759 F. App'x 326, 330 n.2 (5th Cir. 2019) ; Nat'l Union Fire Ins. ......
  • Texas Mut. Ins. Co. v. Wood Energy Group, Inc., Civil No. A-07-CA-530-LY.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Texas
    • 19 Febrero 2009
    ...potentially support claims for which there is coverage. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Merchs. Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex. 1997). If a lawsuit does not allege facts within the scope of coverage, an insurer is not required to defend. Allstate Ins. Co. v......
  • National American Ins. Co. v. Breaux, No. CIV.A. 1:03CV1378.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 6 Enero 2005
    ...Utica Nat'l Ins. Co., 141 S.W.3d at 201; Cowan, 945 S.W.2d at 821; National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex.1997). In Texas, when determining an insurer's duty to defend an insured, the court follows the "eight corners" or "complaint allegat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
458 cases
  • Mbm Financial v. Woodlands Operating Co., No. 08-0390.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • 28 Agosto 2009
    ...Co. v. Griffin, 955 S.W.2d 81 (Tex. 1997) (per curiam); Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d 139 (Tex. 1997) (per curiam); Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Sanford, 879 S.W.2d 9 (Tex. 1994) (per curiam). 44. See, e.g., Mann Frankfort Stei......
  • Bitco Gen. Ins. Corp. v. Acadia Ins. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-526
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 16 Diciembre 2019
    ...v. Mid-Continent Cas. Co. , 630 F.3d 451, 457 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc. , 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex. 1997) ); accord United Fire & Cas. Co. v. Kent Distrib., Inc. , 759 F. App'x 326, 330 n.2 (5th Cir. 2019) ; Nat'l Union Fire Ins. ......
  • Texas Mut. Ins. Co. v. Wood Energy Group, Inc., Civil No. A-07-CA-530-LY.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Texas
    • 19 Febrero 2009
    ...potentially support claims for which there is coverage. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Merchs. Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex. 1997). If a lawsuit does not allege facts within the scope of coverage, an insurer is not required to defend. Allstate Ins. Co. v......
  • National American Ins. Co. v. Breaux, No. CIV.A. 1:03CV1378.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 6 Enero 2005
    ...Utica Nat'l Ins. Co., 141 S.W.3d at 201; Cowan, 945 S.W.2d at 821; National Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Merchants Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d 139, 141 (Tex.1997). In Texas, when determining an insurer's duty to defend an insured, the court follows the "eight corners" or "complaint allegat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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