Latest News


Plaut Spouts: Reflections of an Old Guy with a Corner Office

July 3rd, 2018 By David L. Plaut

Collegiality and Professionalism: Is “All of My Kindness, Taken for Weakness”? With apologies to Rihanna, civility and collegiality in the practice of law leads to better outcomes and is the right way to practice anyway.  The best lawyers, those who are well prepared and steeped in the law, are cordial and collegial in their dealings with other lawyers, the court and court personnel, and the community at large.  All too often, it is the bad lawyer, the unprepared lawyer –
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To err is human. To disagree on an appraisal award is not grounds to set it aside.

June 28th, 2018 By Anne-Marie Abarado

In Abdalla v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, No. 07-17-00020-CV, 2018 WL 2220269 at * 1 (Tex. App.—Amarillo May 14, 2018, no pet. h.), the Amarillo Court of Appeals rejected an insured’s attempt to convert a disagreement among appraisers regarding the extent of damage into a reason to set aside a valid appraisal award. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision denying Abdalla’s motion to vacate the umpire’s award and granting summary judgment in favor of Farmers.   Abdalla sued Farmers alleging breach
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Appraisal Payments: Don’t be late for this very important date.

June 26th, 2018 By Todd Key

A recent opinion out of the Western District of Texas, Kezar v. State Farm Lloyds, 1:17-CV-389-RP, 2018 WL 2271380, at *1 (W.D. Tex. May 17, 2018), adds further support for post-appraisal summary judgments on extra-contractual claims, but also suggests a strict analysis of whether or not appraisal payments are timely. The Kezar plaintiffs filed their lawsuit against State Farm asserting causes of action for breach of the insurance policy, statutory and common law bad faith, unfair settlement practices, negligence and
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Hanna & Plaut’s Catherine Hanna Speaking at Advanced Insurance Law Seminar

June 24th, 2018 By Catherine Hanna

It’s not too late to register for the Insurance Law Section’s Advanced Insurance Law Seminar on June 28-29 in San Antonio. Lots of great topics and a great chance to mix and mingle with insurance practitioners on both sides of the bar. The seminar will be held at the fabulous Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa. Lazy River anyone? On Friday, Catherine will be presenting on Attacking and Defending Appraisal Awards with policyholder attorney Matthew Pearson. Hope to see you there!
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The Burden of Allocation

June 17th, 2018 By Jeffrey C. Glass

Insured cannot arbitrarily allocate settlement proceeds to non-covered damages in order to preserve coverage claims against a non-contributing insurer. Judge Lee Rosenthal, of Texas’ U.S. Southern District, recently prohibited an insured from unilaterally allocating general settlement amounts from its subcontractors to uncovered damages, in order to preserve claims against insurers “that would cover the damages if the loss was properly allocated to that policy.”  In  Am. Guarantee & Liab. Ins. Co. v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 255 F. Supp.
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Giving the Jury Charge its Due

May 29th, 2018 By Sarah Scott

  It’s easy to understand why the poor jury charge so often gets short shrift in trials. Diligently preparing for witness examinations, checking and double checking exhibits, rehearsing your opening and closing statements until they are committed to memory but seem completely unrehearsed – all of these tasks are tremendously time-consuming. But (to borrow a football metaphor, this being Texas) lawyers who ignore the charge run the risk of fumbling at the one-yard line. Why? Because the charge, unlike your
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Insurance Coverage for Punitive Damages – The Discussion Continues

May 15th, 2018 By Tara Mireur

The Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, sitting en banc, has denied a motion for en banc reconsideration.  The case, Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Company v. Zuniga, 2018 WL 1310157, involved the question of whether or not a form automobile insurance policy covered exemplary damages.  In November 2017, the San Antonio Court of Appeals held that the policy, under which the insurer agreed to “pay damages for bodily injury,” did not provide coverage for a claim for punitive
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Advertising full coverage does not establish a misrepresentation where amount of loss is disputed.

May 8th, 2018 By Sheila Tan

Plaintiffs in first-party property insurance cases often include a misrepresentation claim, typically arguing that the carrier’s failure to pay sufficient amount for covered damage to the property constitutes a misrepresentation. While state court judges may sometimes allow these claims to go to a jury, Texas law clearly holds that disputes about the amount of the loss do not constitute misrepresentations of the policy. In Click v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 1:17-CV-00108-BL, 2018 WL 1322167 (N.D. Tex. March 13, 2018) (slip
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Authenticating and Admitting Social Media Evidence

May 2nd, 2018 By Eric S. Peabody

Facebook has been in the news lately with lots of people concerned about invasion of privacy. For litigators, our willingness to share our lives on social media has created a fertile source of evidence on liability, damages, defenses, and other critical issues.  Assuming the evidence is relevant, the primary concern of courts confronted with this evidence is ensuring that the evidence (1) was actually on the website, (2) accurately reflects the proposition for which it’s offered, and (3) is attributable
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Plaut Spouts: Reflections of an Old Guy with a Corner Office

April 27th, 2018 By David L. Plaut

Two days after returning from a visit to Copenhagen to see our son who’s studying there, I tried and won a breach of contract case in a single day.  The case involved a contract dispute between two construction subcontractors about insurance coverage.  My client, a Spanish speaking stone mason, had been sued for failing to secure “completed operations” insurance coverage for another subcontractor.  We tried the case before Judge Eric Shepperd in County Court at Law No. 2 here in
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