Latest News

Who’s on First – The Continuing Dilemma of Primary/Excess Issues

June 8th, 2017 By Jeffrey C. Glass

In a recent decision, Judge Sparks of the Western District of Texas addressed allocation of insurance coverage among purportedly primary and excess policies. Starnet Ins. Co. v. Fed. Ins. Co., A-16-CA-664-SS, 2017 WL 1293578, at *5 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 6, 2017). Three policies were relevant to coverage for local pollution damage caused by an oil well blow-out for which the insured, BBX, was responsible. Two of the policies were not typical CGL policies but were specialty coverages written for oil
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Cliché of the Day

June 2nd, 2017 By Todd Key

In law practice, as in life, we run across a number of clichés . We highlight these commonplace sayings in this new semi-regular feature. Today, Todd Key discusses “splitting the baby.” The Biblical tale arises from Solomon’s attempt to distinguish between two women who both claimed to be the mother of an infant. Solomon’s order to split the baby was a personality test to differentiate between the real mother and an imposter. According to the tale, the imposter mother was
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Medical Cost and Necessity Affidavits – A Trap for the Unwary

May 31st, 2017 By Sheila Tan

One of the most commonly used tools in personal injury litigation is the affidavit regarding the cost and necessity of medical services provided. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 18.001 et seq. governs the use of affidavits to prove up the reasonableness and necessity of medical treatment. These affidavits are ubiquitous because they are a cost-effective way of presenting sufficient evidence that the amount charged was reasonable or the treatment provided necessary, without having to resort to expensive live experts
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Friday Fun – Vacation Season

May 26th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

Memorial Day is upon us. On this day, we remember and honor those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom. “They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this nation.” — Henry Ward Beecher Memorial Day also marks the traditional beginning of summer vacation season. Here at Hanna & Plaut, we’ve filed our vacation letters and we’re ready for some r&r. Vacations bring some of our most lasting memories – both bad and good.
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Indemnity: Don’t get harmed by your “hold harmless” agreement!

May 23rd, 2017 By Eric S. Peabody

At a certain level of sophistication, contracting parties begin incorporating indemnity provisions in their contracts as a risk-assignment mechanism. Without input from knowledgeable counsel, these provisions can impose an unexpected burden on unsuspecting parties, fail to offer the protection sought by the provision’s proponent, or lull the parties into believing that insurance is unnecessary or redundant. The arcane rules governing the enforcement of indemnity agreements and the continuing confusion surrounding their application make them the ultimate “trap for the unwary.”
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Texas Senate Passes Hail Reform Legislation

May 17th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

The Texas Senate has tentatively approved, by a vote of 21-8,  House Bill 1774, the hail reform bill we first discussed back in February of this year. Key provisions of the bill include: Limit applicability of claims under both DTPA in Business and Commerce Code and Ins. Code Limit insurer liability under chapter 542 to damages for delays in payment and not simply any violation of the prompt payment provisions. Changes penalty interest amount from 18% to judgment interest rate
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Hail Reform Bill Passes House

May 5th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives gave initial passage by a vote of 91-55 to approve House Bill 1774. Texas Tribune has the run-down here and you can find more coverage in the SE Texas Record.

Homeowner’s Recovery Limited to Direct Financial Loss

April 23rd, 2017 By Todd Key

Under Texas law, property insurance policies are intended solely to indemnify the insured for its actual monetary loss. Maryland Cas. Co. v. Palestine Fashions, Inc., 402 S.W.2d 883, 888 (Tex. 1966). “Since a contract for insurance . . . is ordinarily a contract of indemnity . . . the insured is entitled to receive the sum necessary to indemnify him, or to be put, as far as practicable, in the same condition pecuniarily in which he would have been had
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After the Verdict: What Jurors Want to Hear and What to Avoid at Trial

April 18th, 2017 By Anne-Marie Abarado

One of the biggest learning opportunities in trial practice actually occurs after the trial. Many courts usually allow the attorneys to interview jurors after they have rendered their verdict. While many jurors may rush out of the courtroom to get home after they have done their civil duty, there are a few that will stay behind because they are interested in the process, and they want to find out more about the strategies employed by the attorneys during trial. Speaking
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Venue: Where’s the Dance

April 11th, 2017 By Eric S. Peabody

Texas is a big, diverse state – with judges and jury pools to match. One of the most important decisions for plaintiffs and defendants alike is determining where the litigation dance will take place, i.e. venue. Because the burden is on defendants to immediately challenge a plaintiff’s choice of venue, defense attorneys need to be particularly vigilant to protect their clients from having to litigate in an inappropriate or inconvenient locale. While some specifics of venue challenges depend on the
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