Late-Hour Settlement Scuttles SCOTX Challenge to Insurance Industry’s Unfair Advantage in Texas Damage Disputes
– Robert Tharp, September 29th 2022
Late-Hour Settlement Scuttles SCOTX Challenge to Insurance Industry’s Unfair Advantage in Texas Damage DisputesWhen a last-minute settlement nixed a closely watched concurrent-causation insurance dispute known as Overstreet v. Allstate, Texas Lawbook reporter Michelle Casady turned to Marc Gravely for analysis.
Gravely penned a Supreme Court of Texas amicus brief for the Overstreet case on behalf of seven Texas business groups explaining why a disconnect between court rulings and clearly written language in the Texas Insurance Code has placed Texas businesses and property owners at an unfair disadvantage in property damage disputes.
Writes Texas Lawbook:
The questions ask who bears the burden of proof in certain insurance coverage disputes where damage is caused by a combination of covered and uncovered causes. It invokes the state’s “concurrent causation doctrine” and came to the Texas Supreme Court this time in a dispute between policyholder Harold Overstreet and Allstate.
And it seems insurance companies really don’t want the Texas Supreme Court to answer them.
“What’s a Texas business to do when a court refuses to follow the law and the insurance industry is in a position to prevent the Texas Supreme Court from ever hearing it?” Marc Gravely asked. “How surprising is that in a state like Texas that is so business friendly?”
The rules, Gravely argued in an amicus brief he filed on behalf of seven industry groups just days before a settlement was reached, have been mischaracterized, misapplied and misunderstood… A teed-up chance for clarity — oral arguments before the Texas Supreme Court scheduled for Sept. 21 — fell through when a settlement was announced Sept. 16. That settlement blocked the Texas Supreme Court from answering the certified questions for the second time in 10 months.
While lawmakers are unlikely to try to change the already clear language in the insurance code, Gravely noted that he’s hopeful arguments in the amicus brief lay the groundwork for proper interpretations of the law going forward.
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