Updates on Insurance Coverage, Construction Defect
and Commercial Auto Law Developments
in Texas and Louisiana
Happy New Year and welcome to the January 2017 edition of Evans & Co.'sCase Notes, a continuing digest of important new cases in the areas of insurance coverage, commercial liability, construction defect, and commercial transportation law, in states in which we work. We return from a very busy December to write this month with updates in the states of Texas and Louisiana, with cases from state appellate courts, and from federal courts construing the laws of those states.
You may access our entire brief by clicking here, or Texas only here and Louisiana only here.
Our past Case Notes are archived at evanslawfirm.comand we would be pleased to bring current the decisions on which we've reported previously, at your request. We also have trial court decisions bearing on the issues covered, available on your request via email reply.
The TEXAS Supreme Court intervenes via mandamus to void in part a discovery order compelling an insurer to disclose claim handling data regarding claims other than the plaintiffs’. Insurers should cleave to this precedent in shaping responses to discovery which seems inevitable in coverage litigation, seeking everything under the sun in their files. Some errors in preserving the right to object are also illuminated in this opinion.
Embellishing on the same theme (and underscoring the prevalence of the attempted discovery abuse) the Texas Court of Appeals provide mandamus relief, based on a determination of irrelevance, to a truck insurer from an attempt to obtain records of all cases in which the insurer denied coverage or conducted coverage litigation.
We digest a third mandamus relief for an insurer, granted when a personal injury claimant improperly joined the insurer as a defendant – a theme we are seeing in several states where there is no direct action permitted. We infer that some insurers may be failing to assert their right to be free having to defend themselves in bodily injury case, emboldening these actions.
A Texas Court of Appeals analyzes who exactly is the named insured in a truck liability policy, and with assistance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration federal regulations, supports the narrowest possible distinction between an individual (cast in a judgment) and that individual’s “dba” an unincorporated business name.
A Federal District Court, applying Texas law, breathes life into the exception to the Texas “eight corners” rule used to determine if there is a duty to defend, and allows extrinsic evidence showing that the suit arose from facts that triggered an exception to coverage, thus saving the insurer the expense of the duty to defend.
We also digest cases on insurance for computer fraud, and on subrogation rights vested in an insurer, to pursue tort and contract remedies against a storage company for loss of the insured’s artwork.
In LOUISIANA, where stealing air conditioners ebbs and flows with the scrap value of copper, property insurers have found a champion the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding a “precious metals exclusion” to deny claims based on theft of a church’s compressors.
ADA claims will find no coverage under CGL policy terms as either property damage or bodily injury. Employment practices insurers add this case to your marketing materials!
Finally, a further development of the theme of direct action against insurers attempts where no law provides for same, is a Federal District Court case applying Louisiana law, which dismissed counts against the insurer because the accident did not occur in Louisiana.
We hope you find these updates helpful and note that you may find them archived at our firm's website, evanslawfirm.com. We are always glad to provide enhanced interpretations of these and other cases for application to the particular facts of claims that you may be considering.
Clickherefor our Case Notes for both states. (32 pages)