Case Details


Attorney General Control Of Litigation, Class Actions., Parens Patriae

Filing State



Texas Supreme Court




Farmers Group Inc. v. Lubin, 222 S.W. 3d 417 (Texas 2007)


Attorney General is authorized to file suit under state’s Insurance Code, and is a good representative for all affected parties

Case Description

The Attorney General of Texas entered into a class action settlement with a group of insurance companies over inadequate disclosures and discrimination in homeowners’ rating practices that allegedly violated the state’s Insurance Code. The court of appeals reversed, holding the Attorney General could not bring a class action under the Insurance Code without naming individual class members as representatives. The Attorney General appealed, arguing that he had parens patriae authority to bring the class action on behalf of insurance consumers without regard to the specific requirements of the Insurance Code. The Texas Supreme Court held that parens patriae actions are different from class actions, and are not specifically authorized in the Insurance Code. However, the court also held that the “language of the Code appears to authorize attorneys general to file suit in their own right, rather than merely acting as counsel for private citizens who want to do so.” The court also noted “An attorney general’s duty is to represent the state, but attorneys for private individuals have a duty of loyalty only to their clients. Imposing such recruitment would inevitably restrict the “broad discretionary power” attorneys general need to carry out their constitutional duties.” The court held that “the typicality, adequacy, and other prerequisites for all class actions must be applied to the damage claims asserted by an attorney general, rather than to that official personally.” The court held, “Generally, class actions are proper when “the relationship between the parties present and those who are absent is such as legally to entitle the former to stand in judgment for the latter.” As the State’s chief legal officer, and the Legislature’s designee for bringing class actions under the Insurance Code, an attorney general stands in just such a relationship.