Latest News


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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Texas Supreme Court Agrees to Hear UM/UIM Attorneys’ Fees Case

October 5th, 2020 By David L. Plaut

On Friday, October 2, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court granted Allstate’s Petition for Review in Cause No. 19-0885, Allstate Insurance Company v. Irwin, on appeal from the Fourteenth Court of Appeals.  The case addresses the question of whether policyholders can recover attorneys’ fees in uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) cases that are pled as  declaratory judgment actions.  The Supreme Court’s previous decisions in Brainard and Henson would appear to foreclose recovery of attorneys’ fees in the absence of an underlying judgment establishing the
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Fifth Circuit Affirms No Duty To Defend Against Criminal Charges Under Pollution Liability Policy

September 27th, 2020 By Erin Holmes

On September 4, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court’s decision that AIG Specialty Insurance Company (“ASIC”) was not liable for more than $12 million dollars in legal expenses incurred by Waste Management, Inc. (“Waste”) for defending criminal charges that were brought against the company for environmental contamination, agreeing with the lower court that there was no duty to defend the criminal case under the insurer’s pollution liability policy.  See Waste Management
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1933-2020

September 20th, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg Like many fellow Americans I was heartbroken to learn on Friday evening that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died at age 87. For many reasons, this loss hit American women especially hard.  Justice Ginsburg spent her entire career advocating for the rights of women to be treated equally at home and at work. Her legacy can be
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COVID-19 Case Note: Government mandated shutdown did not cause direct physical loss required to trigger business interruption coverage.

September 13th, 2020 By Sheila Tan

For many businesses in Texas that have been shut-down or restricted by state and local government orders due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most pressing questions raised is: is there business interruption coverage? And for at least some barber shops in Bexar County, the Western District has answered with a definitive no. In Diesel Barbershop et al. v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 5-20-CV-461-DAE, Plaintiffs run barbershop businesses that were classified as “non-essential businesses” and forced to cease
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Covid Webcast Alert

September 8th, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

Hanna & Plaut partner Catherine Hanna recently recorded a webcast for the State Bar of Texas with renowned Texas policyholder attorneys Vince Morgan and William Chriss and fellow carrier attorney Stephen Melendi to discuss coverage issues arising from the Covid19 pandemic. The webcast premiers today – Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Come for the coverage overview. Stay for the discussion of Covid cockroaches!


Breaking News on UM/UIM

August 31st, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court set an underinsured motorist (UIM) mandamus case – Cause No. 19-0791, In re State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Terecina Shahan – for oral argument on December 2, 2020.  The case revisits an issue presented to the Court in Weber v. Progressive Cty. Mut. Ins. Co., 2018 W. 564001 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2018, pet. denied) on Petition for Review.   In Weber, the Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of extracontractual UIM
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