Latest News


Hanna and Plaut sponsors Austin Public Library Foundation Gala

November 11th, 2019 By Catherine Hanna

“The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.” ― Susan Orlean, The Library Book Lawyers are readers and insurance coverage lawyers read a lot. When we get tired of reading insurance policies (which hardly ever happens, we promise!) most of us enjoy curling up with a good book. You can often find us discussing books we’ve read
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The Western District Takes a Wrong Turn on the UM/UIM Highway

October 18th, 2019 By David L. Plaut

A new federal UM/UIM “bad faith” decision out of the San Antonio Division of the Western District of Texas – Civil Action No. SA-19-CV-00180-FB-ESC, Trejo v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Ins. – involves claims against an insurance adjuster and allegations of improper joinder remand.  The magistrate’s report in Trejo found an Insurance Code cause of action against the adjuster under Chapter 541 despite the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in Brainard v. Trinity Universal Ins. Co., 216 S.W.3d. 809 (Tex. 2006).
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Is Eight Enough? The Texas Supreme Court may answer that question when it tackles the eight-corners rule.

September 24th, 2019 By Jeffrey C. Glass

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently certified to the Texas Supreme Court, and the latter accepted, a question that could end up undermining the “eight corners” rule.  State Farm Lloyds v. Richards, 18-10721, 2019 WL 4267354, at *3 (5th Cir. Sept. 9, 2019), certified question accepted (Sept. 13, 2019) Jayden Meals was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident while under the temporary care of his grandparents, the Richards. Jayden’s mother sued the Richards in state court alleging they were
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A Cautionary Tale. . .

September 17th, 2019 By Tara Mireur

In USAA Texas Lloyds Company v. Griffith, 2019 WL 2611015 (Tex.App. –Corpus Christi, June 26, 2019), the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals affirmed a Hidalgo County jury verdict that awarded Plaintiff John Griffith $776,000 after USAA seemingly performed an unreasonable investigation of his roof claim. The case provides insurers with an example of how a simple oversight can turn a bona fide dispute into a bona fide mess. Griffith held a USAA policy on his home in McAllen, Texas.  His
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Hanna & Plaut Partners Selected Once Again to the Texas Super Lawyers List

September 12th, 2019 By Catherine Hanna

Congratulations to Hanna & Plaut partners David Plaut and Catherine Hanna on their selection to the 2019 Texas Super Lawyers list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected to receive this honor. Catherine and David are especially proud of this achievement since it is based on a process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. While achieving this level of
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In Win for Insurers, Court Rejects Prejudice Limitation on Express Claim Reporting Condition

August 18th, 2019 By Eric S. Peabody

Following a hail storm in April 2016, insured Blanco West Properties failed to discover and report damage to the roof of its commercial building until October-November 2017. Blanco West’s insurer, Arch, denied the claim based on a policy endorsement that required hail-related claims to be brought within one year of the event. Appealing the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Arch, the insured argued that Arch was required to demonstrate it was prejudiced by Blanco West’s failure
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A Flood of Bad News for Tardy Claimants

July 21st, 2019 By Sheila Tan

Floods are unfortunate recurring events in Texas, and more so in recent years with Hurricane Harvey highlighting just how destructive Mother Nature can be. Little wonder that flood insurance and flood claims have been the subject of plenty of litigation and a recent opinion from the Fifth Circuit underscores how tricky it can be to navigate these waters (pun intended). Flood is generally not covered under a standard homeowner’s policy. In order to allow homeowners to obtain such coverage the
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“You Can’t Make Me”—Court Recognizes Limits on Authority to Order Specific Adjuster’s Mediation Attendance

July 12th, 2019 By Eric S. Peabody

In the course of litigation stemming from a motor vehicle accident, an El Paso trial court ordered the parties and their representatives “with full settlement authority” to mediation.  The defendant’s insurer, Allstate, sent a representative who was not the handling adjuster to the mediation.  The mediation was unsuccessful.  The plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to compel attendance of the adjuster handling the claim at a second mediation, which the court granted.  The adjuster sought mandamus relief from the trial court’s
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Barbara Technologies and Ortiz Allow Attorneys’ Fees and Late Payment Penalties Despite Insurer’s Payment of Appraisal Award.

July 1st, 2019 By David L. Plaut

“I come, then, to bury appraisals, not praise them.” -Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, Barbara Technologies (dissenting). In its Barbara Technologies and Ortiz decisions last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court resolved the troublesome question of whether an insurer’s payment of an appraisal award necessarily precludes common law and statutory “bad faith,” as well as prompt payment penalties under the Texas Insurance Code.  Writing for a 6-3 majority in Barbara Technologies, Justice Paul Green found in favor of the policyholder and held
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542A Elections of Adjuster Liability: “Dancing with the one that brung ya.”

June 24th, 2019 By Sarah Scott

More guidance on staying in federal court: Southern District affirms importance of timing in 542A removals Although there has been a flurry of litigation about removals under Section 542A of the Texas Insurance Code (see Eric Peabody’s stellar blog post here), until recently none of the current crop of federal cases addressed whether a pre-suit election by an insurance carrier of the liability of an adjuster precludes remand to state court. According to the Southern District the answer is a
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