Insurance agent drops lawsuit against La Joya ISD
This article appeared in the May 12 issue of the Progress Times.
A local insurance agent dropped a lawsuit against the La Joya Independent School District last week.
Alberto “Bob” Treviño, who owns Pharr-based Workplace Benefit Advisors LLC, decided to drop the lawsuit on May 2.
“We felt we got what we wanted,” said attorney Gus Acevedo of Pharr, who represents Workplace Benefit Advisors. “So there was really no need to go forward with the lawsuit.”
Treviño inked a contract with La Joya ISD in July 2022. The contract included a termination clause that allowed either La Joya ISD or Treviño to cancel with 30 days notice.
La Joya ISD decided to cancel the contract in March, when the school board settled a lawsuit with another insurance agent, Ruth Villarreal. As part of the settlement, La Joya ISD approved a seven-year contract with her company, Ruth Villarreal Insurance.
The district sent Treviño a termination notice on March 29.
“The notice is effective March 31, 2023 and we appreciate your sincere efforts in the separation,” then-Superintendent Gisela Saenz wrote to Treviño. “The District thanks you for your service and wishes you luck in your future endeavors.”
Treviño responded with litigation.
On April 3, he sued La Joya ISD for breach of contract under the name “Alberto Trevino d/b/a Bob Trevino Insurance Workplace Benefits Advisors.” As part of the lawsuit, Treviño asked state District Judge Luis Singleterry to sign a restraining order against La Joya ISD.
“Immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to Plaintiff if this relief is not granted,” according to the lawsuit, which asked Singleterry to stop La Joya ISD from “taking any action to terminate Plaintiff’s insurance services contract.”
Singleterry, though, didn’t sign the restraining order.
Three days later, Treviño filed a nearly identical lawsuit against La Joya ISD under the name “AAAR Family LTD d/b/a Trevino Insurance Workplace Benefits Advisors.”
The case was assigned to state District Judge Israel Ramon Jr., who also declined to sign the restraining order.
Treviño, apparently undeterred, sued La Joya ISD again on April 13 — and convinced Hidalgo County Court-at-Law Judge Armando Marroquin to sign the restraining order.
“Two previous judges (Judge Singleterry and Judge Ramon) refused to sign Plaintiff’s proposed Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order,” according to a motion filed by attorneys for La Joya ISD, “and so Plaintiff forum shopped until Plaintiff found a trial court that would sign its Ex Parte Order.”
In some circumstances, forum shopping may result in sanctions against the attorneys involved.
After signing the restraining order, Marroquin recused himself from the case. Another judge agreed to extend the restraining order until May 10, more than 30 days after La Joya ISD sent Treviño the termination notice.
Treviño decided to drop the lawsuit before the restraining order expired.
“Why pursue a lawsuit if you’ve already got what you want?” Acevedo said.
Asked about the forum shopping allegation and the flurry of motions filed by attorneys for La Joya ISD, who sought to dissolve the restraining order, Acevedo said he didn’t feel the need to respond.
“My feeling is: The days of ‘Rambo litigation’ have passed. That’s stuff that used to happen in the 80s and even early 90s. But that kind of behavior is kind of frowned upon by the courts these days,” Acevedo said. “But they are who they are. So God bless them.”
Attorney Jaime “Jerry” Muñoz, who represents La Joya ISD, said the school district was pleased Treviño decided to drop the lawsuit.
“The district is just happy that he realized that we were adhering to the contract,” Muñoz said. “And there was no breach of any portion of the contract.”