Law Practice

Plaut Spouts: Reflections of an Old Guy with a Corner Office

March 7th, 2018 By David L. Plaut

One of the great things about practicing law here at Hanna & Plaut is that you’re surrounded by quality people wherever you look.  Besides my savvy, highly accomplished trial lawyer partner Catherine – and yes, I know she needs no introduction – we have terrific lawyers, young and old.   I couldn’t be happier than practicing law here with these people. Last week I had the great pleasure of going to trial with two of our lawyers, Sheila Tan and Sarah
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Insurance Carrier Allowed to Sue Attorney For Failing to Disclose Settlement Demand

February 19th, 2018 By Tara Mireur

In a ruling likely to give insurance attorneys heartburn, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division denied an attorney’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against it by an excess insurance carrier complaining it was misled about settlement. Ironshore Europe DAC v. Schiff Hardin, LLP, 2018 WL 338604 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 9, 2018). The Schiff Hardin firm was representing Ironshore’s insured Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc. in a lawsuit filed by the Hinsons, who were parents
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Texas Supreme Court Broadly Construes Scope of Judicial Review of Workers’ Compensation Decisions

January 30th, 2018 By Robert Josey

    At the tail end of 2017, the Texas Supreme Court issued a decision which has rather far-reaching implications for the various participants in the Texas Workers’ Compensation appellate and judicial review systems.  In State Office of Risk Management v. Edna A. Martinez  the court held that: An “issue” for purposes of dispute resolution is broadly construed as the disputed matter related to a workers’ compensation claim (i.e. compensability, disability, extent-of-injury, etc.) An “issue” is not a legal argument advanced
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Gone to Trial

January 21st, 2018 By Catherine Hanna

  Many of the issues we deal with as insurance lawyers involve legal questions decided by judges or fact questions that provide motivation for settlement. However, we do sometimes come across issues that cannot be resolved by the court or settlement and that is where I find myself today. Tomorrow, I will be in the courtroom asking a jury of six (we are in county court) to decide my client’s fate. Trying a case can be fun, but it’s also
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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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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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After the Verdict: What Jurors Want to Hear and What to Avoid at Trial

April 18th, 2017 By Anne-Marie Abarado

One of the biggest learning opportunities in trial practice actually occurs after the trial. Many courts usually allow the attorneys to interview jurors after they have rendered their verdict. While many jurors may rush out of the courtroom to get home after they have done their civil duty, there are a few that will stay behind because they are interested in the process, and they want to find out more about the strategies employed by the attorneys during trial. Speaking
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Venue: Where’s the Dance

April 11th, 2017 By Eric S. Peabody

Texas is a big, diverse state – with judges and jury pools to match. One of the most important decisions for plaintiffs and defendants alike is determining where the litigation dance will take place, i.e. venue. Because the burden is on defendants to immediately challenge a plaintiff’s choice of venue, defense attorneys need to be particularly vigilant to protect their clients from having to litigate in an inappropriate or inconvenient locale. While some specifics of venue challenges depend on the
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March 26th, 2017 By David L. Plaut

What is “voir dire”? I never discuss the etymology of the phrase “voir dire”– which in Texas we happily mispronounce “voir” (sounds like “four”) and “dire (sounds like “tire”) – with potential jurors because, well, it’s just not interesting to anyone but me.  That said, “voir dire” comes from Anglo-Norman French, which was much different than the modern French spoken today.  In that archaic tongue, “voir dire” literally means “to speak the truth.” Most people think of voir dire as
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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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