On Monday, September 16, 2013, Plaintiffs Shawn Williams, Sr. and Pleshette Williams, individually, and as Representatives of the Estate of Shawn Williams, Jr., Joe Hollingshead, Shay Hollingshead, and Marlene Hawkinson filed their Fourth Amended Petition against the City of Baytown and Shannon Joe Chauncey concerning these Defendants’ negligent and reckless actions of October 19, 2012. On the night of October 19th these Defendants’ actions directly caused the death of Shawn Williams, and precipitated life-threatening injuries to Shay Hollingshead.
That night the Baytown Police Department conducted a high-speed police chase in pursuit of Chauncey for shoplifting $500 of merchandise. In the course of that chase, the Department placed spike strips across the roadway that put Shawn and Shay at risk, directly causing the accident.
Following the accident, Defendant Progressive County Mutual Insurance Co. was sent a letter of representation. Progressive is Chauncey’s insurance company. The letter of representation put Progressive on notice of Plaintiffs’ claims against their insured, Defendant Chauncey. That letter is dated December 4, 2012.
On March 20, 2013 Progressive responded to Plaintiffs’ letter. Progressive claimed that there was no insurance coverage available for the Plaintiffs as a result of the October 19th accident.
Progressive’s claim that there was no coverage for the accident is based on default declaratory relief Progressive fraudulently obtained in secret. On December 17, 2012—well after Progressive was put on notice of Plaintiffs’ claims—Progressive petitioned the 334th District Court in Harris County for declaratory relief. Progressive did not want to pay Chauncey’s insurance proceeds to Plaintiffs. Progressive wanted to keep that money.
And Progressive was really sneaky about getting its declaratory relief. Knowing its insured was locked up as a result of his criminal acts of October 19th, Progressive sought default declaratory relief—without ever notifying or serving Plaintiffs with its petition. Progressive knew it was doing wrong by trying to obtain its declaratory relief. In obtaining its default judgment, Progressive and its captured counsel lied about the law straight to the Court’s face. But with no adversary to confront them, Progressive got away with this scheme.
Plaintiffs are suing Progressive for this egregious act—in which Progressive violated multiple statutory provisions and purposely misrepresented the law to the Court. Plaintiffs are also seeking sanctions against Progressive and their captured counsel—lawyers that are employees of Progressive—for their purposeful misrepresentations to the Court and to Plaintiffs.
There is no excuse for Progressive’s actions. Rather than abide by the laws of Texas and provide insurance coverage that the Plaintiffs are legally entitled to, Progressive has wrongfully denied coverage and obtained a default judgment in secret by committing fraud. Plaintiffs demand justice. Progressive had a choice after the accident to do right. Progressive chose wrong.