Law Practice

Plaut Spouts: Top Ten Tips and Tricks for Lawyers on Zoom!

August 16th, 2020 By David L. Plaut

I came up with this list the hard way and don’t think that’s because I’m a technophobe.  I’m not and won’t make any stupid myspace jokes here.  There are usually some problems with Zoom depositions, mediations, and hearings and most of that is user error.  Here are some things to think about before jumping on Zoom: Practice, practice, practice! If you haven’t used Zoom for a deposition, mediation, or hearing make sure you set up a practice session with someone
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Corporate Depositions and the Personal Knowledge Trap

May 25th, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

When entities are defendants in a lawsuit, the deposition process is not quite as easy as it would be for individual fact witnesses. Depositions of organizations are governed by Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 199.2(b)(1), which states that: If an organization is named as the witness, the notice must describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. In response, the organization named in the notice must—a reasonable time before the deposition—designate one or more individuals to testify
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Requests for Admission: A “Gotcha” Game

April 5th, 2020 By Catherine Hanna

After taking on a case, reviewing a file, and drafting initial pleadings, it’s often easy to get a sense of what kind of questions to expect in written discovery. Sometimes, however, the questions can throw you for a loop. For example, requests for admissions can include sweeping accusations such as the following: “Admit that [Defendant] encourages its legal counsel to lay resolution of policy holder lawsuits, file frivolous motions, and impede ongoing efforts at discovery.” Or this one: “Admit that
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Plaut Spouts: Dealing with the Difficult Lawyer

January 20th, 2020 By David L. Plaut

One of the great pleasures of law practice is the camaraderie between lawyers and professionalism that exist despite the often high-stakes nature of litigation.  On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than having to deal with opposing counsel who is rude to you and your staff, belligerent in his demands, oblivious to the clear requirements of Texas law, and contentious as a matter of course.  Dealing with jokers of this sort is a skill that can be learned.  I’ve often
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You Can’t Always Get What You Want (if what you want is a declaratory judgment on non-liability)

June 16th, 2019 By Jeffrey C. Glass

In re Houston Specialty Insurance Co., 569 S.W.3d 138 (Tex. Jan. 25, 2019) is a mandamus case involving an insurer’s motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment action by a law firm seeking a declaration of non-liability for malpractice in representing the insurer and advising it did not owe a defense in an underlying suit.  The Texas Supreme Court ultimately held the Rule 91a motion was proper because the declaratory judgment action seeking non-liability was without merit. [Ed. Note – Rule
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Collateral Source? Not necessarily. Sometimes you CAN have your cake and eat it too.

May 5th, 2019 By Tara Mireur

The Amarillo Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court decision to grant a new trial after the lower court determined that admitted testimony concerning the Plaintiff’s “claim” violated the collateral source rule and likely caused the jury to apportion responsibility and determine damages that were inconsistent with the great weight of the evidence at trial. In re DCP Operating Company, LP f/k/a DCP Midstream, LP, 2019 WL 1908147 (Tex. App. – Amarillo April 29, 2019). At trial, Brain Stringer
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Did the Hot Seat Just Get Hotter?

March 11th, 2019 By Catherine Hanna

Potential Substantive Changes to Rule 30(b)(6): What Companies Need to Know For the last fifty years Rule 30(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs corporate representative depositions, has remain unchanged.  Now, in a move that is causing defense attorneys and their clients heartburn, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States has proposed an amendment that could potentially cause discovery disputes to hit the roof. In its current form,
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Fifth Circuit Reaffirms Attorney Immunity Doctrine

February 25th, 2019 By Tara Mireur

In Ironshore Europe DAC v. Schiff Hardin, LLP, No. 18-40101 (5th Cir. 2019), the Fifth Circuit recently reversed the district court decision we previously wrote about here. The district court denied an attorney’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against it by an excess insurance carrier complaining it was misled about settlement, instead holding that the law firm could not be held liable to a nonclient under the attorney immunity defense doctrine.   The lower court’s decision to allow the claim was
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Keeping Adjusters Out of the Hot Seat – UM/UIM Edition

February 3rd, 2019 By Sheila Tan

UM/UIM cases are a unique hybrid of tort and contract. Although the insured’s own insurance carrier is often named as a defendant, it has no contractual duty to pay benefits until after the liability of the insured and the other motorist, as well as the damages suffered by the insured, have been determined. Brainard v. Trinity Universal Ins. Co., 216 S.W.3d 809, 815 (Tex. 2006). Trial courts often struggle with the dilemma of how to avoid the prejudicial injection of insurance
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Staying On the Level and Avoiding Discovery Snafus

January 14th, 2019 By Catherine Hanna

Every case filed in Texas state court requires the plaintiff to choose a discovery plan: Level One, which applies only for cases where the plaintiff seeks less than $100,000 in damages; Level Two, which applies by default to all other cases and has its own specific set of deadlines; and Level Three, which allows the parties to agree on deadlines that work best for their case. Tex. R. Civ. P. 190.1-109.4. For many attorneys, choosing a Level 3 discovery plan
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