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Appellate Group Prevails in Texas Supreme Court on Major Insurance Policy Case

February 7, 2008

HOUSTON (February 7, 2008) – Warren W. Harris, who leads the appellate practice of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, successfully defended Frank’s Casing Crew & Rental Tools Inc. in one of Texas’ most significant insurance cases in the last several decades.

On Feb. 1, 2008, the Texas Supreme Court withdrew its landmark 2005 7-0 ruling in Excess Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, et al. v. Frank’s Casing Crew & Rental Tools Inc. and held that unless an insurance policyholder’s contract provides the insurer with the right to reimbursement of settlement proceeds following a coverage dispute, then the insurer cannot unilaterally create such a right.  The Court’s 5-3 ruling affirmed the case’s 2002 ruling by the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston.

In the closely-watched appeal, the Supreme Court relied on Texas Association of Counties County Government Risk Management Pool v. Matagorda County, a 2000 decision that ruled that an insurer can seek reimbursement  only if it obtains clear consent from the policyholder.

“For the Court to reconsider their original opinion and reverse a 7-0 ruling is virtually unheard of,” said Mr. Harris, who sought the Frank’s Casing rehearing on behalf of his client in January 2006.  “It’s certainly been a long-awaited decision in the  bar and is a significant victory..  We are thrilled that the Court reaffirmed Texas law  on this issue.”

Mr. Harris argued the case on rehearing on Feb, 15, 2006. Fred Hagans of Hagans, Burdine, Montgomery, Rustay & Winchester in Houston served as Co-counsel.

Based in the Houston office, Mr. Harris heads the firm’s appellate practice, is chair of the IADC Appellate Practice Committee and is a past chair of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section and the ABA TIPS Appellate Practice Committee.