Latest News

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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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.

Bad Faith in Texas Survives . . . this Round

April 7th, 2017 By David L. Plaut

The USAA v. Menchaca opinion, which has been eagerly (and anxiously) awaited by insurers and insureds was released today. The Texas Supreme Court reversed and remanded the judgment in the policyholder’s favor in this Hurricane Ike case.  The jury had determined there was no breach of contract, but found an Insurance Code violation, including an unfair or deceptive practice and an unreasonable investigation.  The jury awarded Plaintiff $11,350 in damages. In reversing the judgment, the Court announced the five following important principles
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Tan Selected as a 2017 Rising Star

March 9th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

Hanna & Plaut is proud to announce that Sheila Tan has been selected as a 2017 Rising Star by Super Lawyers Texas Monthly magazine, a Thomson Reuters publication. Sheila is incredibly intelligent and committed to zealously advocating for our clients’ best interests. In addition, she is a pleasure to work with. We are happy that she is part of the team.

The Road to Hail Reform – An Update

March 6th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

A couple of items from the Insurance Council of Texas. The House Insurance Committee met last week, where they heard from TDI about the results of their data call regarding hail litigation in Texas.  Lots of interesting stuff in the TDI report which is titled  “The Cost of Weather-Related Property Claims and Related Litigation”  and which you can find on the TDI website. An interesting tidbit highlighted by ICT: South Texas accounts for about 4 percent of all sampled windstorm
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South Texas Jury Hits USAA with Big Damages in Hailstorm Case

February 28th, 2017 By David L. Plaut

  Five years after a South Texas hail storm, a Hidalgo County jury awarded homeowner John Griffith damages of $1,244,500 against USAA Texas Lloyd’s Co. (“USAA”) and at least $200,000 against claim adjuster AllCat Claims Service, L.P. (“AllCat”).  Griffith – a principal of the McAllen-based Griffith Law Group – filed the lawsuit alleging the defendants intentionally undervalued the cost of damages to his home during the inspection process.  He alleged the 2012 hail storm damaged his roof, pool, pool deck,
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Barratry? What does it mean to you?

February 24th, 2017 By Sheila Tan

In recent years, Texas has seen a rise in hailstorm litigation that exceeds the rise in hailstorms. While, insured homeowners who are unhappy with the adjustment of their claim are entitled to their contractual remedies, it appears that some homeowners are being victimized by unscrupulous actors, including unethical lawyers. See, e.g., Yates, David, “Barratry class action against hail firm alleges ‘elaborate web of fraud.” SE Texas Record, May 17, 2016.  Barratry is the solicitation of employment to prosecute or defend
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The road to hail reform.

February 17th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

In the last few years in Texas, we have seen a significant increase in the percentage of hail storm claims turning into lawsuits and there is no end in sight. Texas saw more record hail storms in 2016. “Texas Hailstorms Set Record Losses in 2016.” Insurance Council of Texas. December 13, 2016. In his recent state of the state address, Governor Greg Abbott called the many lawsuits arising from these storms, “the newest form of lawsuit abuse,” and added his voice to the
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