El Paso Residents Sue GEICO for ‘Venue Abuse’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2019
Contact:
Nancy Nusser, Press Officer, TRLA, 512 374 2764 or 410 934 9588; nnusser@trla.org

EL PASO, Texas (May 6, 2019) – Two El Paso women today sued GEICO for effectively trying to restrict their ability to defend themselves in court.

The two women, who are represented by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), were first sued by GEICO over car accidents that happened in El Paso County. But GEICO improperly filed the suits 600 miles away in Dallas County, making it difficult if not impossible for the women to make their court appearances. The women’s lawsuit, filed today in [COURT] states that GEICO engaged in the “intentional practice of abusing process against Plaintiffs and El Paso residents in general by routinely suing them in Dallas County for accidents that occur in El Paso County.”

“GEICO does this to keep people from showing up in court to defend themselves,” said TRLA attorney Christina Trejo, who is representing the women, along with TRLA attorney Jaime Sanchez. If they don’t file an answer to the suit in Dallas, a default judgment will be issued against them, she said. But trying to get the case transferred to El Paso is a difficult process fraught with problems that only attorneys are used to handling. “At every step, a burden is placed on El Pasoans that would not exist if GEICO followed the law about where cases must be filed,” Trejo said.

Trejo pointed out that her clients are not alone in facing lawsuits filed by GEICO hundreds of miles away to increase the likelihood of default judgments. The complaint lists examples of 12 other improperly filed cases. “GEICO routinely files subrogation cases in Dallas County against El Paso County residents for El Paso car accidents that occurred between El Paso County residents,” the lawsuit states.

“I think GEICO does this on purpose because they know people like me don’t have the means to travel hundreds of miles to get to court,” said Evelyn Huerta, one of the two El Pasoans who filed suit. “So I would end up losing – and that would be a disaster for me, since I don’t have anywhere near enough to pay what they want.”

Both women tried to have their cases transferred on their own before they got representation from TRLA. GEICO would not agree to transfer their improperly filed cases until they had a lawyer to deal with GEICO for them.

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to about 23,000 low-income Texans in 68 counties. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and access to justice for low-income Texans by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.


nancy nusser