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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Jan. 2, 2003, a driver injured Cathy Edminster and her two children when the driver collided with her automobile as she sat at a traffic light. Custard Insurance Agency Inc. (CIA) represented the other driver’s insurance agency. Edminster retained an attorney to pursue her claim against the other driver and entered into a contingent-fee contract with her attorney. In October 2003, Allstate paid Edminster $3,760 in medical benefits under the provisions of her automobile insurance policy. Edminster subsequently settled the claim against the other driver for $12,075. CIA issued two checks on behalf of its insured: one for $8,315 and one for $3,760, the amount of Allstate’s subrogation claim. In February 2004, Edminster’s attorney asked Allstate to reduce its subrogation lien by $1,286.85, or one-third of its subrogation claim, as Allstate’s pro rata share of attorneys’ fees. Allstate refused, and Edminster filed this declaratory judgment action. The parties filed competing motions for summary judgment. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Edminster and against Allstate in the amount of $1,207.50 on her declaratory judgment action and also awarded her attorney’s fees. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. Allstate, the court stated, contended that the trial court erred by granting Edminster’s motion for summary judgment, which asserted Allstate was equitably obligated to pay a portion of Edminster’s attorney’s fees under the common-fund doctrine. The common-fund doctrine, the court stated, is an equitable doctrine that is designed to prevent unjust enrichment. It is founded on the principle that “one who preserves or protects a common fund works for others as well as for himself, and the others so benefited should bear their just share of the expenses,” including attorneys’ fees. Allstate, the court stated, argued that it presented summary judgment evidence that conclusively established or at least raised a fact issue about whether it took steps to protect its own subrogation claim and as a result does not owe Edminster any attorney’s fees. The court found that the summary judgment evidence in this case showed Allstate did take some action to resolve its subrogation claim directly with CIA. In sum, the court stated, Allstate notified CIA of its subrogation claim, stated it was pursuing the subrogation claim independently of any claim by Edminster, asked CIA to issue a separate check in the amount of the subrogation claim with Allstate as the sole payee, notified Edminster’s attorney not to take any action to collect Allstate’s subrogation claim and submitted Edminster’s medical bills to CIA to support its subrogation claim. Based on this summary judgment evidence, the court concluded that Allstate raised a material fact issue about whether the common-fund doctrine applied to this case. The court further held that the trial court erred by granting Edminster’s motion for summary judgment. OPINION:Lang-Miers, J.; Morris, Lang and Lang-Miers, J.J.

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