The answer to the titled questions is partially addressed in a 2019 opinion from the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi.  The opinion is styled, MJ & JJ, LLC; dba Peacock Manor Apartments v. Clear Blue Specialty Insurance Company, et al.

After sustaining hurricane damage, Peacock sued Clear Blue, Madsen, Kneppers & Associates (MKA), Hylton Cruickshank, and Charles Jendrusch in State Court.  Clear Blue removed the case to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction.  Then they contend Cruickshand and Jendrusch should be dismissed.  Peacock file a motion to remand.

The parties agree Cruickshank and Jendrusch are not diverse, but the MKA defendants contend they were improperly joined, thus, removal to Federal Court was proper.

Insurance lawyers and anybody who has an insurance policy needs to know what the limitations period is in the insurance policy.  This is illustrated in the 2019, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion styled, Lillian Smith v. Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America.

Lillian sued Travelers for contractual and statutory violations that arose out of the denial of her commercial property claim for benefits.  Here are the facts.

Smith agrees that Travelers sent her an unambiguous letter, denying her claim for benefits.  She however, insists that her causes of action did not accrue until nine months later (rather than the date of the denial) because Travelers had agreed upon her request, to re-investigate her claim for damages.  After a re-investigation, Travelers affirmed they were standing by their original denial of the claim.

As stated before, the insurance companies prefer to litigate cases in Federal Court.  One of the ways to stay out of Federal Court when suing the adjuster for an insurance company is to clearly articulate the wrongs that the insurance adjuster committed.  This is illustrated in a 2019, opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The case is styled, David Williams v. Allstate Vehicle And Property Insurance Company.

Williams filed suit against Allstate and Allstate’s adjuster, Murray McKay, alleging that McKay violated various sections of the Texas Insurance Code when adjusting Williams claim for storm damage to his home.  Allstate removed the lawsuit to Federal Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C., Section 1441(b), alleging that McKay had been improperly joined in the lawsuit, thus, the requirements of diversity were satisfied.  Williams sought a remand to the State Court based on 28 U.S.C., Section 1447(c).

The Federal Court conducts a Rule 12(b)(6) type analysis to determine whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim against a nondiverse defendant, in this case, the defendant being McKay.

When it comes to claims dealing with automobile policies, here is a case that needs to be read.  It is a 2019, opinion from the Texarkana Court of Appeals and is styled, Alan Kiely v. Texas Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company.

Kiely sued Farm Bureau in an effort to recover Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits that had been denied.  Summary Judgement was granted in favor of Farm Bureau and this is Kiely’s appeal from that ruling.  This Court sustained the ruling in favor of Farm Bureau.

The PIP policy at issue provided coverage up to $10,000 per person for each accident.  Texas Insurance Code, Section 1952.151, states PIP requires payment of all reasonable expenses that: (1) arise from an accident; ….

Insurance lawyers know that almost all insurance policies require that an insured provide to the insurance company, prompt notice of a claim.  The purpose of this prompt notice requirement is to allow the insurance company to investigate the claim while the facts of the claim are fresh.  However, if the insured fails to provide this prompt notice, the insurer is required to show that it was prejudiced or harmed by the insured’s failure to provide the prompt notice.  Here is a case discussing that issue.

The case is from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and is styled, Blanco Properties, L.L.C. v. Arch Specialty Insurance Company.

Blanco owed commercial property insured by Arch.  Blanco’s owner did not discover April 2016, hail damage until October 2017 and did not file a claim until November 2017.  The claim was denied due to the policy containing a specific endorsement that explicitly required hail related claims to be brought within one year.  The District Court granted summary judgement in favor of Arch and this Court affirmed that judgment.

Claims involving property losses usually do not require expert testimony.  But, if they do require expert testimony, it is important for an insurance lawyer to know how present the expert.  This is illustrated in the 2019, opinion from the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, styled, Mt Hawley Insurance Company v. TFP Properties III LLC.

Mt. Hawley filed this lawsuit against TFP asserting it had paid all sums owing under the commercial policy at issue.  After the lawsuit was filed, Mt. Hawley filed a motion to exclude the testimony of TFP’s property evaluation expert.

The courts are to act as gatekeepers by making preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology underlying an experts testimony can be properly applied to the facts at issue in the case.  Testimony that is based purely on the ipse dixit of the expert is not allowed.  The court’s determination regarding the admissibility of the expert evidence is subject to an abuse of discretion standard.

Interpreting the number of accidents or occurrences that are covered by a policy can be confusing.  The State Bar of Texas, Insurance Law Section, Insurance Journal, published an article titled, Texas Law And The Restatement Of The Law Of Liability Insurance: An Initial Comparison Of Blackletter Principles.  This article dedicates about a page discussing the issue.

The article tells us that for liability policies, the number of occurrences is determined by finding the number of events or incidents for which the insured is liable.  This is discussed in quite a number of Texas cases starting with the 1971, 5th Circuit opinion styled, Maurice Pincoffs Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co.

The Restatement of Law essentially mirrors Texas law in adopting a “cause” standard:

Insurance lawyers understand that an insured has an obligation to cooperate with the insurance company investigation of a claim.  This topic is briefly discussed in an article published by the State Bar of Texas, Insurance Section Journal.  The article is titled, Texas Law And The Restatement Of The Law Of Liability Insurance: An Initial Comparison Of Blackletter Principles.

In most situations when an insured has a claim, he calls the insurance company, the insurance comes out, takes a statement, and a few days later the claim is resolved.  But, that is not how it always occurs.

The law in Texas, is that an insured has a duty to cooperate with its insurance company in the defense of claims for which the insurer has a duty to defend.  This was made clear in the 1993, opinion from the Texas Supreme Court styled, State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. V. S.S.  These clauses, called cooperation clauses, are intended to guarantee to the insurance companies the right to prepare adequately their defense on questions of substantive liability.  This was stated in the 1971, 5th Circuit opinion styled, Martin v. Travelers Indem. Co.  The Restatement essentially recognizes this same duty and says:

Have we ever mentioned that the insurance companies prefer to fight cases in federal court rather than state court?  And that insurance lawyers representing people who have a claim against their insurance company would prefer to litigate the case in state court?

Here’s a case dealing with the $75,000 pleading requirement to have a case heard in federal court.  The case is from the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, and is styled, Fernando Abascal v. United Property & Casualty Insurance Company.

Fernando filed suit in state court against United after United partially denied his claim for damage resulting from Hurricane Harvey.  In his pleadings, Fernando stated that he “will never ask, receive, or take a judgment for any amount exceeding $75,000.  United removed the case to federal court arguing that Fernando’s statement does not qualify as a binding stipulation and that Fernando’s demonstrates that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00.

The subject of anti-assignment clauses was discussed in an article published in the State Bar of Texas, Insurance Section, Journal.  The article is titled “Texas Law And The Restatement Of The Law Of Liability Insurance: An Initial Comparison Of Blackletter Principles.”

The article is lengthy and a good read for lawyers dealing with this area of the law.  One page of the article deals with anti-assignment clauses.  It tells us this.

A 1994, Fort Worth Court of Appeals opinion styled, Tex. Farmers Ins. Co. v. Gerdes, says that anti-assignment clauses have been consistently enforced by Texas courts.  Texas courts enforce anti-assignment clauses post-loss ad without requiring the insurer to show prejudice and this is reinforced by the 2010, U.S. 5th Circuit opinion styled, Keller Foundations, Inc. v. Wausau Underwriters Ins. Co.  Thus, Texas courts will uphold anti-assignment provisions so long as they do not interfere with the operation of a statute.