OPINION 170
March 1958

NEGOTIATION WITH OPPOSITE PARTY - OFFERS TO SETTLE - An attorney representing an injured party may not send a copy of a letter to the defendant, the original being sent to defendant’s lawyer employed by his insurance carrier, containing an offer to settle the injured party's claim within the defendant’s insurance policy limits. Communication in any way with an opposite party who is represented by counsel regarding the subject of controversy is improper.

Canon 9.

Question

Is it unethical for an attorney for the plaintiff to send a copy of the following type of letter to the defendant, the letter being addressed to the attorney of record for the defendant and the attorney for the defendant being employed by the defendant's liability insurance carrier:

"Mr. Martin Muzzlewit
Attorney at Law
Sputnik, Texas

RE: No. 1, District Court,
Satellite County, Texas
John Does v. Richard Roe

Dear Mr. Muzzlewit:

John Doe, plaintiff in the above entitled and numbered cause, hereby offers to settle the same for the sum of $4,900.00.

A carbon copy of this letter is also sent by registered mail to Richard Roe, the principal defendant, with the requires that he advise me whether or not he recommends this settlement be made, which is within his policy limits.

Thanking you for the prompt attention you will give this matter, and with kindest personal regards, I am

Yours very truly,

John Blackstone

Attorney at Law

cc Mr. Richard Roe
Route 10, Box 100
Sputnik, Texas"

Opinion

The committee is of the opinion that the writing of such a letter is a violation of Canon No. 9 of the Canons of Ethics of the State Bar of Texas, which provides that a member shall not in any way communicate upon the subject for controversy with a party represented by counsel and should not undertake to negotiate or compromise the matter with the party, but should deal only with his counsel. The sending of a carbon copy of the letter to the defendant is a communication with a party represented by counsel, and is an effort to influence the negotiations for settlement by dealing directly with the defendant for that purpose. (9-0)