Hail Damage Claims And Insurance Code Section 542A

Here is a 2022, opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, that deals with recovery of attorney fees under Section 542A of the Texas Insurance Code.  The opinion is styled, Mario Rodriguez v. Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana.

This is a decision based on Safeco’s motion for summary judgment.

At issue is whether payment of an appraisal award, plus payment of estimated interest due under the Prompt Payment Act, entitle an insurer to summary judgment on an insured’s claim
under the Prompt Payment Act.  If so, then the insurer is absolved from paying attorney’s fees
that otherwise would be due under the Prompt Payment Act.  No issue of material fact is present to prevent the entry of summary judgment.  As the Parties have recognized, this is purely a matter of law.  After careful review of the arguments and authority cited by the Parties, the Court finds that Defendant’s position is meritorious.  Although the issue presents policy factors that weigh in favor of each possible outcome, the Court finds that pursuant to 542A.007(a), the legislature’s intent appears clear when enacting Chapter 542A of the Texas Insurance Code to limit attorney’s fees.  It must be presumed that the legislature was aware of the conflict Chapter 542A would have with the Prompt Payment Act and chose to limit attorney’s fees anyway.  It is logical that attorney’s fees are not recoverable when the computation of fees as set forth in Chapter 542A.007(a) lead to zero because the apparent purpose is to curb abusive hailstorm claims.

The Court also fully considered Plaintiff s supplemental authority and Defendant’s response thereto.  The Court notes, as argued by Defendant, the supplemental authority supplied by Plaintiff was a state court case that dealt with attorney’s fee issues prior to the enactment of
Chapter 542A.007(a) of the Texas Insurance Code.

Furthermore, Plaintiff does not appear to dispute that the payment of the appraisal award
disposes of Plaintiffs claims for breach of contract and violations of Chapters 541 of the Texas
Insurance Code.

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