“Gravely is the Best of the Best –
another Texas Legend”
– Joe. K. Longley, Past President, State Bar of Texas
Appellate Practice and Advocacy
The Gravely PC team includes veteran lawyers who practice at the intersection of appellate law and construction and insurance litigation. The firm staffs all litigation for appeal, ensuring that every case is best positioned to capitalize on appellate rulings at every level, all the way to the Supreme Court of Texas. In addition to benefitting clients directly, the firm’s appellate work has resulted in lasting court opinions that have preserved the rights of policyholders in claim disputes and property owners in defect litigation.
The construction and insurance industries have powerful lobbies that seek to influence legislation and policy to their benefit. Gravely PC proudly represents business and industry groups as pro bono amicus counsel before the Supreme Court of Texas. The firm has made more than a dozen appearances on behalf of organizations that include:
- Texas Hospital Association
- Texas Apartment Association
- Texas Hotel & Lodging Association
- Texas Association of School Boards – Legal Assistance Fund
- Texas Municipal League
- Texas Association of Counties
- Texas Automobile Dealers Association
- Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association
- International Council of Shopping Centers
- Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals
- Texas Building Owners and Managers Association
- Texas Community Association Advocates
- Independent Bankers Association of Texas
Appellate Practice and Advocacy
Texas Supreme Court Advocacy
“A talented advocate and thought leader – his work at the Texas Supreme Court has benefitted Texas businesses across the board.”
– Santos Vargas, Chair of the Board of Directors, State Bar of Texas
Gravely Supports Texas Businesses Challenging Unfair Insurance Industry Practices Based on Contradictory Legal, Legislative Interpretations
Summary: SCOTX was primed and ready to hear a case in which the issue of whose burden it is to plead and prove the applicability of policy exclusions was squarely in the crosshairs for decision. Probably fearing that it was about to take a well-deserved beating, Allstate settled the case right before oral argument, depriving SCOTX of jurisdiction to issue an opinion. You can find more information about this case and the state of the law HERE.
Role: Gravely filed an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of the Texas Hospital Association, Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, Texas League of Community Charter Schools, Texas Community Association Advocates, Texas Automobile Dealers Association, Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association, and Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals.
Case: Harold Franklin Overstreet v. Allstate Vehicle & Property Ins. Co. – since the case settled, there is no SCOTX opinion
Gravely Client TopDog Prevails with SCOTX Ruling: Insurance Co. Can’t Dodge Bad-Faith, PPCA Claims
April 17, 2020
Summary: The ruling was a victory for TopDog in a protracted dispute with Guideone National Insurance Co. over the insurance company’s delays and failure to pay for storm damage. Eight months after TopDog filed a lawsuit, Guideone paid an appraisal award and sought to end remaining claims for bad-faith insurance, breach of contract and violations of the Prompt Payment Claims Act. The Gravely team secured an important ruling that the trial court and court of appeals had erred, sending the case back to the trial court to proceed.
Role: Gravely Lawyers represented Steven Biasatti dba TopDog Properties and Paul Gross dba TopDog Properties
Case: Steven Biasatti and Paul gross dba TopDog Properties vs. Guideone National Ins. Co.
SCOTX Opinions in Companion Cases Mirror Reasoning in Gravely ‘friend of the court’ Brief: Prompt Payment Duties Apply Even in Appraisal Process
June 28, 2019
Summary: In two separate cases, State Farm Lloyds used the same trick of attempting to escape Texas Prompt Payment statutory duties by stalling until long after suit was filed, then invoking the policy appraisal procedures and paying the appraisal amount. The trial and appellate courts blessed the ruse by letting the insurance company skate on summary judgment. The Texas Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that TPPA duties apply despite the appraisal payment and requiring the trial courts to let the insureds try their cases. An excellent result for Texas businesses.
Role: Gravely filed a brief in both cases as counsel for amicus curiae (friends of the court) Independent Bankers Association of Texas, Texas Association of Community Schools, Texas Automobile Dealers Association, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association, Texas League of Community Charter Schools, Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals.
Cases: Barbara Techs. Corp. v. State Farm Lloyds, 589 S.W.3d 806 (Tex. 2019)
Ortiz v. State Farm Lloyds, 589 S.W.3d 127 (Tex. 2019)
Gravely Amicus Brief and SCOTX Opinion Once Again in Lockstep – Insurance Company Can’t Shift Burden of Investigation to Insured
April 13, 2018
Summary: In a case involving conflicting jury answers, USAA took the position (among others, all contrary to its insured’s interests) that the cost burden to investigate conditions of coverage was on the policyholder. The Court disagreed and clarified some hazy language from prior opinions about the rules that apply to different situations involving both breach of contract claims and tort cases alleging violation of statutory duties placed upon insurance companies—a win for Texas business.
Role: Gravely acted as a friend of the court on behalf of Brass Real Estate Funds, Texas Automobile Dealers Association, Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association, and the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals.
Case: USAA Tex. Lloyds Co. v. Menchaca, 545 S.W.3d 479 (Tex. 2018)
Gravely Carries the Lance for Insurance Coverage Counsel Association to Defend Policyholder Rights
June 17, 2016
Summary: The Texas Supreme Court addressed several technical coverage issues involving statutes and regulations governing insurance companies and surplus lines carriers, clarifying protections for Texas businesses. Within the opinion lies an important snippet of dicta. The Court said, “[T]he…insurers may plead and prove that the policy exclusions…preclude coverage….” (emphasis added). This language may foreshadow how the Court will rule on an issue that troubles the coverage area even today: who bears the burden of pleading and proving exclusions to coverage. If, that is, the Court ever gets a chance to decide it. Go HERE to see the latest development in this area and see the summary of the Overstreet case above.
Role: Acting as a friend of the court, Gravely filed an amicus brief on behalf of Texas Insurance Coverage Lawyers.
Case: Seger v. Yorkshire Ins. Co., 503 S.W.3d 388 (Tex. 2016)
Gravely Supports Texas Businesses and Policyholders Over Duties Owed by Insurance Companies
September 11, 2015
Summary: This case addressed the duties that insurance companies owe to policyholders in various specific situations. The Court did not publish its opinion.
Role: Gravely was honored to step up to the plate as a friend of the court on behalf of Texas Policyholders Coverage Lawyers.
SCOTX Affirms That a Tie Goes to the Policyholder Runner When It Comes to Ambiguous Policy Language
May 8, 2015
Summary: A policy covering huge damages caused by Hurricane Rita contained fuzzy language describing the method for determining the amount of the loss. The policyholders interpreted it one way; RSUI Indemnity Company interpreted it another. Both interpretations were “reasonable,” meaning that the language was ambiguous as a matter of law. In a big win for policyholders, SCOTX concluded the ambiguity must be resolved in favor of coverage for the insured.
Role: Gravely stepped up to the plate for amicus curiae Texas Apartment Association and Texas Hotel & Lodging Association
Case: RSUI Indem. Co. v. Lynd Co., 466 S.W.3d 113 (Tex. 2015)
Gravely Represents Business in Case Involving Complex Interpretations of an Anti-Concurrent Causation Clause and Application of City Ordinances
April 24, 2015
Summary: Damage from Hurricane Ike prompted the city to require expensive code compliance updates to an apartment complex. Lexington Insurance Company contended that because the damage was caused by both wind – a covered peril – and flooding – an excluded cause – the expense of bringing the complex into code compliance weren’t covered. The trial court sided with the policyholder. The court of appeals and SCOTX didn’t. The opinion illustrates the importance of care in crafting anti-concurrent cause clauses and demonstrates the critical nature of claim presentation actions. On a positive note, SCOTX recognized the applicability of §554.002, Tex.Ins.Code, a good sign for policyholders if the issues presented in Overstreet (see above) ever make it to the Court for express decision.
Role: Gravely represented JAW the Pointe, L.L.C.
Case: JAW the Pointe, L.L.C. v. Lexington Ins. Co., 460 S.W.3d 597 (Tex. 2015)
SCOTX Plugs Big Loophole Resulting in Coverage for General Contractors
January 17, 2014
Summary: The question boiled down to whether a contractor agreeing to perform construction work in a good and workmanlike manner amounted to “assuming liability” for damages for defective work, which Amerisure contended triggered a contractual liability exclusion under the policy. Thanks in part to Gravely’s amicus brief on behalf of nearly a dozen trade organizations in support of Ewing Construction Company’s position, SCOTX held that the exclusion did not apply and Ewing was entitled to coverage under its policy.
Role: Gravely filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Texas Apartment Association, Inc., the Texas Hospital Association, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Texas Automobile Dealers Association, Inc., Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund, Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals, International Council of Shopping Centers,
Texas Community Association Advocates, Texas Association of Counties,
Texas Municipal League, and Texas Building Owners and Managers Association, Inc.
Case: Ewing Constr. Co. v. Amerisure Ins. Co., 420 S.W.3d 30, 57 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 195 (Tex. 2014)
Big Win for Policyholders: SCOTX Wraps Up 12-Year-Old Case with Pivotal Decision Placing Insurance Company on the Hook for Cost of Determining Existence and Amount of Damages
August 23, 2013
Summary: After a tortuous 12-year journey through the legal system, this case ended with SCOTX holding that Markel American Insurance Company was responsible for covering costs of homebuilder Lennar Corporation and its sister companies in determining the existence of damage, as well as repairing it, as well as the cost to remediate damages that began before and continued after the policy period. A big win for policyholders.
Role: Gravely represented certain insurance coverage attorneys as amicus curiae.
Case: Lennar Corp. v. Markel Am. Ins. Co., 413 S.W.3d 750, 56 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 893 (Tex. 2013)
Gravely Goes to Battle Over Damage Valuations and Case Presentation
October 26, 2012
Summary: Even though SCOTX decided not to publish the opinion in the case, Gravely attorneys never discounted the importance of highly technical disputes involving both damage valuation and case presentation at trial. The issues in the case centered around three areas: evidentiary qualification of expert witness testimony, replacement cost versus actual cash value, and the appraisal process.
Role: Gravely represented Don Onofre Cantu
Case: Southlands Lloyds Ins. Co. v. David Onofre Cantu and Guadelupe Cantu No. 11-0912, 2012 Tex. LEXIS 927 (Oct. 26, 2012)
Gravely Team Supports Texas Businesses Challenging Insurance Company Delay Tactics in Claim Disputes
May 6, 2011
Summary: The Gravely team represented Texas business associations supporting a Texas business challenging the widespread insurance industry practice of delaying the invocation of appraisal clauses in claims disputes. SCOTX ruled that an insurer’s delay in requesting appraisal, standing alone, is not sufficient to constitute a waiver.
Role: Gravely represented friends of the court Texas Apartment Association, Inc., Texas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance Fund, and Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals.
Case: In re Universal Underwriters of Tex. Ins. Co., 345 S.W.3d 404, 54 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 931 (Tex. 2011)
Gravely Team Prevails for Church Denied Storm Damage Coverage Based on Insurance Company’s Erroneous Claim
December 3, 2010
Summary: Even though it initially accepted coverage for the Christi Bay Temple’s water damages, Guideone Specialty Mutual Insurance Company tried to avoid its responsibilities during litigation by denying that the church had legal capacity to sue. Guideone erroneously claimed that the church had converted its property to a non-profit organization and had forfeited its charter and its ability to sue. The trial court bought into Guideone’s position and dismissed the suit. SCOTX agreed with the Gravely team that Guideone’s argument was ludicrous and remanded the case so that the church might have its day in court.
Role: Gravely represented the Christi Bay Temple church.
Case: Christi Bay Temple v. Guideone Specialty Mut. Ins. Co., 330 S.W.3d 251, 54 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 313 (Tex. 2010)
Gravely Team Fights Insurance Co. Attempt to Avoid Prompt Payment Claims
January 15, 2010
Summary: The Gravely team represented client Ramon Garcia challenging a claim by State Farm Lloyds that payment of an appraisal award precluded TPPCA prompt payment claims.
Role: The Gravely team represented client Ramon Garcia challenging a claim by State Farm Lloyds that payment of an appraisal award precluded TPPCA prompt payment claims.
Case: State Farm Lloyds vs. Ramon and Anita Garcia, No. 09-0488, 2010 Tex. LEXIS 56 (Jan. 15, 2010)