Armes v. Thompson, 222 S.W.3d 79 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2006, no pet.).

Estate Administration



Several years after Decedent injured herself outside of Bingo Barn, she died of an unrelated illness. A lawsuit was thereafter filed against Bingo Barn seeking damages for present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc. The petition did not indicate that Decedent was deceased. Later, the temporary administratrix filed a suggestion of death in the case. Both the trial and appellate courts agreed that the lawsuit should be dismissed for want of jurisdiction because the petition was not filed by Decedent’s heirs or by the personal representative of her estate.

The appellate court rejected the argument that this case was analogous to Austin Nursing Ctr., Inc. v. Lovato, 171 S.W.3d 845 (Tex. 2005) or Lorentz v. Dunn, 171 S.W.3d 854 (Tex. 2005), in which the Texas Supreme Court held that although the persons who filed suit lacked capacity at the time they filed, they were deemed to have authority because they acquired it within a reasonable time and thus it related back to the filing of the original petitions. In those cases, it was clear that the injured person had died and the case was being pursued by an alleged representative of the estate. In this case, it appeared that Decedent filed the lawsuit and by seeking damages for future medical expenses, the petition left the impression that Decedent was still alive. “Because [Decedent] passed away before this suit was filed, she did not have standing to assert a claim; and the original petition filed in her name individually did not invoke the trial court’s jurisdiction.” Armes at 85.

Moral: A decedent lacks capacity and standing to file a lawsuit.