Latest News


BBQ Season Brings Coverage Conundrum

July 26th, 2017 By Anne-Marie Abarado

It’s camping and barbecue season, and that usually involves more propane gas usage.  Injuries resulting from the emission of propane gas may not be covered under certain insurance policies.  Commercial general liability, homeowner, and auto insurance policies often have a pollution exclusion which excludes coverage for damage to property or injuries resulting from certain pollutants. Propane is classified as an asphyxiant gas and exposure to levels above 2,100 ppm is considered immediately dangerous to life or health. See The National
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Menchaca At Work: Houston Court Strengthens Appraisal Defenses, Requires Independent Injury for EC Claims

July 11th, 2017 By Eric S. Peabody

Even before the dust has settled on the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in USAA v. Menchaca, — S.W.3d —, 2017 WL 1311752 (Tex. Apr. 7, 2017, mot. reh’g filed), Texas intermediate appellate courts are busily construing its holdings. In National Security Fire & Casualty Co. v. Hurst, No. 14-15-00714-CV, 2017 WL 2258243 (Houston [14th Dist.] May 23, 2017, n.p.h.), the court used Menchaca to reverse a judgment in favor of the insured and render judgment for the carrier in a
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Great American Ins. Co. v. Hamel: The “Fully Adversarial Trial” On Trial

June 27th, 2017 By Jeffrey C. Glass

In the much-anticipated Hamel decision, the Texas Supreme Court finally addressed the definition of a “fully adversarial trial” under the Gandy rule, holding that a reviewing court must focus on the insured’s incentives to contest liability, rather than on retroactive evaluation of tactical trial details.   Great American Ins. Co., et al v. Hamel, — S.W.3d –, No. 14-1007, 2017 WL 2623067  (Tex. June 16, 2017) (citing State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Gandy, 925 S.W.2d 696, 714 (Tex. 1996)). The decision
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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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