TEXAS SUPREME COURT PLACES LIMITS ON THE APPOINTMENT AND FEES OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM

For years it has been standard practice in Texas for judges to appoint guardians ad litem to represent the interests of minor plaintiffs in settlements. Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 173, which governs the appointment of a guardian ad litem, requires that a conflict of interest exist between the minor and his parent or next friend who brings the lawsuit on behalf of the minor. A guardian ad litem should not be appointed if no conflict of interest exists, such as when the next friend or parent is seeks no damages on her own behalf. The fact that a parent has an obligation to pay for a minor’s medical expenses, standing alone, does not create a conflict of interest under Rule 173.  See Ford Motor Co. v. Stewart, Cox, and Hatcher, P.C., No. 11-0818, __ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2013). When dealing with settlements involving minors, defendants and insurers should object to any unnecessary appointments of guardians ad litem and should verify that any guardian ad litem fee awards comply with the Rules.

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