Latest News


In Re State Farm Requires Resolution of the “Car Crash” Case Before Consideration of any “Bad Faith” Claims

March 30th, 2021 By David L. Plaut

On March 19, 2021, the Texas Supreme Court issued an Opinion by Justice Blacklock reaffirming the continuing importance of its Brainard decision in the uninsured/underinsured (“UM/UIM”) motorist context. See In re State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co. et al. Without dissent, the Court held that UM/UIM claimants “must first obtain determinations of the third-party drivers’ liability and the amount of damages” in order to establish coverage. Slip Op. at *10. Because there was no judgment establishing the liability of the
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Appellate Victory!

March 28th, 2021 By Catherine Hanna

Hats off to Eric Peabody and David Plaut for their recent win in the Amarillo Court of Appeals in Cause No. 07-20-00300-CV, Ferrer v. Almanza (March 16, 2021). The appeal involved a statute of limitations issue and a summary judgment order dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against a defendant in a motor vehicle accident case. The Amarillo Court held CPRC § 16.063 – which tolls the running of limitations for persons “absent” from the state – did not toll limitations as
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Talking about Covid-19 and the car wash: Agent was improperly joined and virus exclusion applied to bar business interruption coverage.

January 31st, 2021 By Sheila Tan

The joinder of an insurance adjuster or agent as a defendant, in a case against an insurance carrier, is a commonly used strategy to defeat diversity. Many attorneys for insurance practitioners have found that challenging joinders of insurance agents and adjusters can be an exercise in futility given the broad reach of the Texas Insurance Code. But a district court in the Western District of Texas recently affirmed the importance of challenging a plaintiff’s failure to allege specific, affirmative misrepresentations
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Salmonella Streak Affecting Hundreds Deemed Single Occurrence

January 26th, 2021 By Eric S. Peabody

Patrons of the Pasha Mediterranean Grill in San Antonio had to stomach an unsavory outcome in their bid to obtain multiple occurrence limits in Travelers Cas. Ins. Co. of Am. v. Mediterranean Grill & Kabob Inc., 2020 WL 6536163 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 4, 2020). Between August 29 and September 1, 2018, nearly 200 cases of food poisoning from salmonella bacteria were reported after the patrons ate at Pasha. Hummus prepared at the restaurant was believed to be the source of
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Speaking Engagement Alert

January 24th, 2021 By Catherine Hanna

Catherine Hanna will be joining a panel discussion on Mediating Insurance Coverage Claims on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. A panel of mediators and insurance coverage attorneys on both sides of the docket will have a free-ranging discussion about the unique challenges in mediating coverage. About the Webinar: The Insurance Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and the Austin Bar Association ADR Section are proud to co-sponsor a Zoom webinar with some of the preeminent insurance lawyers and mediators in
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Texas Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on Allstate v. Irwin

January 7th, 2021 By David L. Plaut

The Texas Supreme Court heard oral argument on Thursday, January 7, 2021 in Allstate v. Irwin, an underinsured motorist case out of San Antonio addressing the availability of attorneys’ fees in such cases.  Plaintiff Daniel Irwin sued Allstate seeking a declaration that he was entitled to recover damages resulting from the wreck under his UM/UIM benefits policy and attorneys’ fees.  On appeal, Allstate argued the trial court abused its discretion in awarding Irwin declaratory relief and attorneys’ fees. Oral argument
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Thanksgiving 2020: In which we discuss the many reasons we have to be thankful, including but not limited to Dolly Parton!

November 24th, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I know it will be different for many of us. There will be empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table, whether because of friends and loved ones we have lost this past year or because the pandemic has caused so many of us to curtail our traditional holiday gatherings. Still, there are reasons to be thankful and this year it may be more important than ever to count our blessings! When I polled my Hanna
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Chapter 18.001 Affidavits: More Flexible Than You Might Imagine!

November 1st, 2020 By Lauren Burgess

Section 18.001 et seq. of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code was enacted to allow for a prima facie showing of the necessity and reasonableness of services by affidavit rather than expert testimony. This evidentiary procedural rule provided plaintiffs with the ability to streamline the necessary proof to establish the reasonableness and necessity of costs. See Gunn v. McCoy, 554 S.W.3d 645, 672 (Tex. 2018) (“Generally speaking, section 18.001 is ‘purely procedural, providing for the use of affidavits to
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Western District’s New Emergency COVID-19 Order Cancels Trials Through November 30th with One Big Exception

October 16th, 2020 By David L. Plaut

Chief Judge Orlando Garcia has issued a new emergency COVID-19 Order, dated October 14, 2020.  The new Order continues all civil and criminal trials through November 30, 2020.  Order at ¶1.  The Order indicates these trials are being continued, at least in part, because of a “reduced ability to obtain an adequate spectrum of jurors” and “due to reduced availability of attorneys and court staff to be present in the courtrooms” because of COVID-19 and “public health considerations.”  Id. at
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Federal court holds pollution exclusion does not apply to injuries caused by direct, personal exposures

October 11th, 2020 By Jeffrey C. Glass

In Canal Indemnity Company v. CalJet II, 4:2019cv02945  (opinion available on PACER), a Texas federal judge recently held pollution exclusions did not bar coverage for a suit involving a truck driver who allegedly died from cancer caused by exposure to the carcinogen benzene in gasoline, a cargo the driver loaded and unloaded. Although Texas courts have previously held that pollution exclusions are not limited to typical cases of environmental pollution, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett of the Southern District
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