law-standing (doctrine) | dismissal for want of subject-matter jurisdiction | plea to the jurisdiction as
vehicle to allege lack of standing | ripeness doctrine | motion to dismiss for lack of standing absence of
justiciable controversy | mootness doctrine |
A plaintiff must have standing for the court to have subject-matter jurisdiction to decide the merits of the
plaintiff's claims. See id.; Farmers Tex. County Mut. Ins. Co. v. Romo, 250 S.W.3d 527, 532 (Tex.App.-
Austin 2008, no pet.). The plaintiff must allege facts that affirmatively demonstrate the court's jurisdiction
to hear the cause. Texas Ass'n of Bus., 852 S.W.2d at 446. The general test for standing is whether
there is a real controversy between the parties that will actually be determined by the judicial declaration
sought. Id. Standing focuses on the question of who may bring a lawsuit. Patterson v. Planned
Parenthood, 971 S.W.2d 439, 442 (Tex.1998).
To bring an action in Texas, a party must have standing. E.g., DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Inman,
252 S.W.3d 299, 304 (Tex. 2008)
Standing is a component of subject-matter jurisdiction. Douglas v. Delp, 987 S.W.2d 879, 882
(Tex. 1999); OAIC Commercial Assets, L.L.C. v. Stonegate Vill., L.P., 234 S.W.3d 726, 735
(Tex. App.-Dallas 2007, pet. denied); see also DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Inman, 252 S.W.3d
299, 304 (Tex. 2008) (“A court has no jurisdiction over a claim made by a plaintiff without
standing to assert it.”) (footnote omitted). Thus, standing cannot be waived, and we may
examine standing sua sponte if necessary. See OAIC, 234 S.W.3d at 735; see also Tex. Ass'n
of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 445-46 (Tex. 1993) (noting that standing “may
be raised for the first time on appeal by the parties or by the court”). The general test for
standing is whether there is a real controversy between the parties that will actually be
determined by the judgment sought. Tex. Ass'n of Bus., 852 S.W.2d at 446. “To establish
standing, a person must show a personal stake in the controversy.” In re B.I.V., 923 S.W.2d
573, 574 (Tex. 1996) (per curiam). Standing must exist at the time a plaintiff files suit; if the
plaintiff lacks standing at the time of filing, the case must be dismissed, even if the plaintiff later
acquires an interest sufficient to support standing. Doran v. ClubCorp USA, Inc., No. 05-06-
01511-CV, 2008 WL 451879, at *2 (Tex. App.-Dallas Feb. 21, 2008, no pet.) (mem. op.);
Kilpatrick v. Kilpatrick, 205 S.W.3d 690, 703 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2006, pet. denied). And the
standing doctrine requires a controversy to continue to exist between the parties at every stage
of the legal proceedings, including the appeal. City of Dallas v. Woodfield, 305 S.W.3d 412,
416 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.).
Standing is a component of subject-matter jurisdiction. Tex. Ass’n of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.
W.2d 440, 445–46 (Tex. 1993); see also DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Inman, 252 S.W.3d 299, 304 (Tex.
2008) (“A court has no jurisdiction over a claim made by a plaintiff without standing to assert it.”). If a
party lacks standing to bring an action, the trial court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to hear the case.
Tex. Ass’n of Bus., 852 S.W.2d at 444–45.
“[S]tanding focuses on the question of who may bring an action.” Patterson v. Planned Parenthood, 971
S.W.2d 439, 442 (Tex. 1998). The general test for standing is whether there is a real controversy
between the parties that will actually be determined by the judgment sought. Tex. Ass’n of Bus., 852 S.
W.2d at 446. “To establish standing, a person must show a personal stake in the controversy.” In re B.I.
V., 923 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tex. 1996).
Standing to sue may be predicated upon either statutory or common law authority. Nauslar v. Coors
Brewing Co., 170 S.W.3d 242, 252 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2005, no pet.); see Williams v. Lara, 52 S.W.3d
171, 178–79 (Tex. 2001). The common law standing rules apply except when standing is statutorily
conferred. SCI Tex. Funeral Servs., Inc. v. Hijar, 214 S.W.3d 148, 153 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2007, pet.
Neeley v. West Orange-Cove Consol. Indep. Sch. Dist., 176 S.W.3d 746, 774 (Tex.2005) ("Standing to
assert a constitutional violation depends on whether the claimant asserts a particularized, concrete
Taxpayer standing is an exception to the general rule that the plaintiff must show a particularized injury
distinct from that suffered by the public. See Bland Indep. Sch. Dist., 34 S.W.3d at 555-56; Hendee v.
Dewhurst, 228 S.W.3d 354, 373-74 (Tex.App.-Austin 2007, pet. denied). A plaintiff relying on taxpayer
standing can seek to enjoin prospective expenditures of public funds, but cannot recover funds already
expended. Williams v. Huff, 52 S.W.3d 171, 180 (Tex. 2001). To establish taxpayer standing, the plaintiff
must show that (1) he is a taxpayer, and (2) public funds are to be expended on the allegedly illegal
activity. Id. at 179.
TEXAS SUPREME COURT CASES
The Standing Doctrine in the Texas Supreme Court
Exxon Corp. v. Emerald Oil & Gas Co., L.C., No. 05-0729 (Tex. Mar. 27, 2009)(Wainright)(oil and
gas law, statutory construction, cause of action for improperly plugging well, standing of subsequent
Frymire Engineering Co. v. Jomar International, No. 06-0755 (Tex. June 13, 2008)(Willett)
(indemnity, equitable subrogation standing, construction law)
Justice Don R. Willett delivered the opinion of the Court.
Daimler Chrysler Corp. v. Inman, No. 03-1189, 252 S.W.3d 299 (Tex. 2008)(Tex. Feb. 1, 2008)(Opinion
by Justice Nathan Hecht) (consumer law, product liability, class action dismissed on standing grounds,
jurisdictional dismissal, DWOJ) Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson delivered a dissenting opinion
Texas Ass’n of Bus. v. Texas Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 445-446 (Tex. 1993) (standing, as a
matter of subject matter jurisdiction, may be raised for the first time on appeal).
Standing by Statute
The Constitution requires standing to maintain suit. Williams v. Lara, 52 S.W.3d 171, 178 (Tex.
2001). A party suing under a statute must establish standing, or the right to make a claim, under
that statute. See id.; Scott v. Bd. of Adjustment, 405 S.W.2d 55, 56 (Tex. 1966). In these cases,
the statute itself provides the framework for the standing analysis. See Williams, 52 S.W.3d at
178–79; Scott, 405 S.W.2d at 56. We do not imply a right of enforcement just because a party
has suffered harm from the violation of a statute; we look to the intent of the Legislature as
expressed in the language of the statute. See Brown v. De la Cruz, 156 S.W.3d 560, 567 (Tex.
2004). Here, we analyze section 85.321 to determine if the Legislature intended to confer
standing upon a party in Emerald’s position. See Tex. Dep’t of Protective & Regulatory Servs.
v. Sherry, 46 S.W.3d 857, 861 (Tex. 2001). Exxon Corp. v. Emerald Oil & Gas Co., L.C., No. 05-0729
(Tex. Mar. 27, 2009)(Wainright)(oil and gas law, statutory cause of action for improperly plugging well,
standing of subsequent lessee)
TEXAS COURTS OF APPEALS CASES (pet. denied by Tex)
HENRY MELVYN RICHARDSON, STEPHANY HARRIS, KLAREE BOOSE, SARAH, KEELI, IVY, SHEBA,
DARRELL, HARPER, EMMA, RAIN, AND ULYSSES v. PRIMARILY PRIMATES, INC.; from Bexar County;
4th district (04-06-00868-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 01-16-08, pet. denied)(animal law, standing to sue)
FINLEY OIL WELL SERVICE, INC. v. RETAMCO OPERATING, INC.; from Bexar County; 4th district
(04-06-00346-CV, 248 SW3d 314, 10-17-07, pet. denied Jun 2008) (sanctions, standing, unliquidated
NACOGDOCHES COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT, D/B/A NACOGDOCHES MEMORIAL HOSPITAL v.
CHARLES RAY NEWMAN AND JIMMY WAYNE CURTIS; from Nacogdoches County; 12th district
(12-06-00375-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, 05-23-07, pet. denied) (District lacked standing to bring suit against
Newman under Chapter 55 and a suit to enforce a Chapter 55 lien was not ripe)
AIRCRAFT NETWORK, LLC v. ASSOCIATED AVIATION UNDERWRITERS, INC. AND CESSNA
AIRCRAFT COMPANY; from Dallas County; 5th district (05-04-01056-CV, 213 SW3d 455, 11-29-06,
pet. denied March 2008) (breach of bailment agreement, no standing) Aircraft Network lacked standing
to sue AAU.
Standing to Sue AAU
Initially, we address AAU's assertion that Aircraft Network lacks standing to sue AAU because a third-
party claimant cannot sue an insurer.
Potential conflicts arise with respect to an insurer's duty to its insured when a third-party sues the
insurer directly. The supreme court has addressed these concerns when considering whether a third-
party claimant has standing to sue an insurer. See Transport Ins. Co. v. Faircloth, 898 S.W.2d 269 (Tex.
1995); Allstate Ins. Co. v. Watson, 876 S.W.2d 145 (Tex. 1994). In Faircloth, a woman was killed in a car
accident involving Allied Van Lines. Allied's insurer, Transport Insurance Company, entered into a
$250,000 settlement agreement with Paula Faircloth, a minor thought to be the daughter of the
deceased. Upon reaching the age of majority, Faircloth sued Transport for unfair settlement practices.
The supreme court held that third-party claimants lack standing to sue an insurer for a claim for breach
of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Id. at 279. The supreme court noted that the insured's
interests are adverse to those of a third-party claimant. If an insurer owes duties to a third-party, the
insurer's duties to its insured would necessarily be compromised. Id.
Watson also involved a car accident. Watson sued Allstate, the other driver's insurer, alleging claims for
unfair settlement practices under the insurance code. Watson, 876 S.W.2d at 146. The supreme court
held that a third-party claimant cannot sue an insurer for unfair settlement practices under the insurance
code. Id. at 149. In so holding, the supreme court explained that allowing a third-party claimant to sue
insurers would undermine the duties that insurers owe to their insureds. “An insurance company owes to
its insured a duty to defend against the claims asserted by a third party.” Id. at 150 (emphasis in
Aircraft Network relies primarily on one case to support its contention that it does have standing to sue
AAU. See Webb v. International Trucking Co., Inc., 909 S.W.2d 220 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1995, no
writ). Webb involved an accident between two truck drivers. One truck was owned by International
Trucking (Trucking). The other truck involved in the accident was owned by Williams Drilling Company
(Williams). Prior to liability being determined, the adjuster for Williams's insurer told Trucking that the
insurer would pay for the damages to its truck and instructed Trucking to have it repaired at a certain
service facility. Id. at 223. Relying on the insurer's statement, Trucking had its truck repaired.
Subsequently, the insurer determined that its driver was not at fault and, therefore, refused to pay
Trucking's repair bill. Trucking sued the insurer for DTPA and insurance code violations. Summary
judgment was granted on the insurance code violations and the jury found in favor of Trucking on the
DTPA claims. Id. at 224.
On appeal, the insurer asserted that Trucking, a third-party claimant, lacked standing to sue it. The
court of appeals distinguished Watson and Faircloth on the ground that the claims in both of those
cases were based on unfair claim settlement practices. Id. at 224-25. Significantly, the facts giving rise
to the claims in Webb occurred prior to liability being either determined or reasonably clear and,
therefore, outside the context of settlement negotiations. An insurer does not settle a claim for which its
insured is not liable. An insurer engages in settlement practices at the point that liability is determined or
becomes reasonably clear.
In our case, liability was determined at the point of the accident. Cessna admitted its fault and never
wavered from that position. Responsibility for the accident was never an issue. From the beginning, AAU
was trying to settle a claim for which Cessna, its insured, was liable. In an effort to fit this case into the
Webb analysis, Aircraft Network couches its claims as a separate agreement between itself and AAU
outside the context of any settlement negotiations. The facts, however, are against such assertion.
Aircraft Network's claims arose from AAU's attempts to settle those claims on behalf of Cessna, AAU's
insured. Loss of use was one of the claims AAU was attempting to settle. Aircraft Network and AAU did
not reach an agreement on the loss of use claim during the negotiation process. See Footnote 2
We hold that, under these circumstances, Aircraft Network lacked standing to sue AAU. Accordingly, we
sustain AAU's first point of error. We reverse the trial court's judgment with respect to AAU and render
judgment that Aircraft Network take nothing on its claims against AAU.
07-0993 OAIC COMMERICAL ASSETS, LLC v. STONEGATE VILLAGE, LP AND CAWC FINANCIAL,
INC.; from Dallas County; 5th district (05-05-01471-CV, 234 SW3d 726, 08-16-07, pet. denied March
2008) (partnership dispute, standing)
III. DETERMINATION OF STANDING
Because the determination of OAIC's issues is dependent on our resolution of appellees' first cross-
point respecting whether OAIC has standing to bring its claims, we address that cross-point at the outset.
A. Standard of Review
Standing, a necessary component of subject-matter jurisdiction, is a constitutional prerequisite to
maintaining a suit under Texas law. Tex. Ass'n of Bus. v. Tex. Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 444
(Tex. 1993). As a necessary component of a court's subject-matter jurisdiction, standing cannot be
waived and can be raised for the first time on appeal. Id. at 445-46. Appellate courts are obligated to
review sua sponte issues affecting jurisdiction. M.O. Dental Lab v. Rape, 139 S.W.3d 671, 673 (Tex.
2004). See also Bowles v. Wade, 913 S.W.2d 644, 647 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1995, writ denied); Centurion
Planning Corp., Inc. v. Seabrook Venture II, 176 S.W.3d 498, 508 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2004,
Whether a trial court has subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law that is reviewed de novo. See
Mayhew v. Town of Sunnyvale, 964 S.W.2d 922, 928 (Tex. 1998). To have standing, the pleader bears
the burden of alleging facts that affirmatively demonstrate the court's jurisdiction to hear the cause. Tex.
Air Control Bd., 852 S.W.2d at 446. We review the pleadings and the entire record to determine if there
is evidence establishing subject-matter jurisdiction. Dallas County Appraisal Dist. v. Funds Recovery,
887 S.W.2d 465, 469 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1994, writ denied).
In an appeal from a bench trial, findings of fact carry the same weight as a jury verdict. Walker v. Cotter
Prop., Inc., 181 S.W.3d 895, 899 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, no pet.). Unchallenged findings of fact are
conclusive on appeal unless the contrary is established as a matter or law or there is no evidence to
support the findings. Toles v. Toles, 45 S.W.3d 252, 265 n.6 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2001, pet. denied) (citing
McGalliard v. Kuhlmann, 722 S.W.2d 694, 696 (Tex. 1986)). Where an appellant attacks the trial court's
findings of fact on legal or factual sufficiency grounds, the applicable standard of review is the same as
that to be applied in the review of jury findings. Walker, 181 S.W.3d at 899. In evaluating the legal
sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding, we must determine whether the evidence as a whole
rises to a level that would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions.
Columbia Med. Ctr. Subsidiary, L.P. v. Meier, 198 S.W.3d 408, 414 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, pet. denied)
(citing City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 822 (Tex. 2005)). Anything more than a scintilla of
evidence is legally sufficient to support a challenged finding. Walker, 181 S.W.3d at 899. More than a
scintilla of evidence exists if the evidence furnishes some reasonable basis for differing conclusions by
reasonable minds about the existence of some vital fact. Id.
We review the trial court's conclusions of law de novo to determine whether they are correct. See
McIntyre v. Comm'n for Lawyer Discipline, 169 S.W.3d 803, 806 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2005, pet. denied);
Travelers Indem. Co. of Rhode Island v. Starkey, 157 S.W.3d 899, 906 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005, pet.
denied). Conclusions of law must be upheld on appeal if any legal theory supported by the evidence
sustains the judgment, and will be reversed only if the conclusions are erroneous as a matter of law.
See McIntyre, 169 S.W.3d at 807.
B. Applicable Law
1. Standing, Generally
In Texas, the standing doctrine requires that (1) there be “a real controversy between the parties,” and
(2) that real controversy “will be actually determined by the judicial declaration sought.” Nootsie, Ltd. v.
Williamson County Appraisal Dist., 925 S.W.2d 659, 662 (Tex. 1996) (quoting Tex. Air Control Bd., 852
S.W.2d at 446). “The issue of standing focuses on whether a party has a sufficient relationship with the
lawsuit so as to have a 'justiciable interest' in its outcome.” Austin Nursing Ctr. v. Lovato, 171 S.W.3d
845, 848 (Tex. 2005) (quoting 6A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller, and Mary Kay Kane, Wright,
Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 1559, 441 (2d ed. 1990)). “The determination
of whether a plaintiff possesses standing to assert a particular claim depends on the facts pleaded and
the cause of action asserted.” Everett v. TK-Taito, L.L.C., 178 S.W.3d 844, 853 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth
2005, no pet.). See also M.D. Anderson Cancer Ctr. v. Novak, 52 S.W.3d 704, 707-08 (Tex. 2001)
(analyzing standing in the context of asserted claim).
When standing has been statutorily conferred, the statute itself serves as the proper framework for a
standing analysis. Everett, 178 S.W.3d at 851. The plaintiff must allege and show how he has been
injured or wronged within the parameters of the language used in the statute. Id.
2. Construction of the Agreement
The agreement provides that “[t]he laws of the State of Georgia (without regard to its conflicts of law
principles) and any applicable Federal Laws shall govern the validity of this Agreement, the construction
of its terms, the interpretation of the rights and duties of the Partners and any claims, counterclaims or
any other matters relating hereto or in connection herewith (whether based on contract, tort or
otherwise).” Georgia law provides that construction of a contract, at the outset, is a question of law. RLI
Ins. v. Highlands on Ponce, LLC, 635 S.E.2d 168, 171 (Ga. Ct. App. 2006); Woody's Steaks, LLC v.
Pastoria, 584 S.E.2d 41, 43 (Ga. Ct. App. 2003). If the language of a contract is unambiguous, the court
simply enforces the contract according to its clear terms, and looks to the contract alone for meaning.
RLI, 635 S.E.2d at 171; Caswell v. Anderson, 527 S.E.2d 582, 582 (Ga. Ct. App. 2000). “Ambiguity” is
defined as duplicity, indistinctness, or an uncertainty of meaning or expression. RLI, 635 S.E.2d at 171.
07-0042 JULIE HOBBS v. KATHLEEN VAN STAVERN; from Galveston County; 1st district
(01-05-00632-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 11-02-06, pet. denied Feb 2008)(family law, SAPCR, same sex
relationship, adoption, standing as (non) parent)
LUBRICANTS USA, LP., LUBRICANTS MANAGEMENT GROUP, LP., APL MANAGEMENT, LLC, CHRIS
HAIRE, AND ROBERT BLAKE SHAW v. GREGORY A. BIRD AND MICHAEL G. RADLER; from Tarrant
County; 2nd district (02-06-00061-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 08-31-07, pet. denied Jan 2008) (partnership
we hold that the trial court erred by granting appellees' plea to the jurisdiction and dismissing appellants'
claims based on lack of standing
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