HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on June 21 ordered a prison to provide drinking water to inmates that conforms to the maximum contaminant levels (MCL) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for arsenic in response to a motion for preliminary judgment filed by inmates who had contended that the water contained as much as 4-1/2 times the levels of arsenic permitted by the EPA Keith Cole v. Brad Livingston, No. 14-1698, S.D. Texas, Houston Div.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80345).
McALLEN, Texas - An insurer's prompt payment of an appraisal award in a homeowners insurance dispute estops the insureds from bringing a claim for breach of contract, and as a result, their extracontractual claims are inactionable under Texas law, a federal judge in Texas ruled June 20 (Daniel Gutierrez, et al. v. State Farm Lloyds, et al., No. 14-430, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79665).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on June 21 held that an insured did not "own" its lost earnings stemming from a Ponzi scheme within the meaning of a commercial crime insurance policy (Cooper Industries, Ltd., et al v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh Pa., No. 12-01591, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80342).
DALLAS - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on June 17 filed an unopposed motion in Texas federal court to consolidate three cases challenging its new "fiduciary rule" (Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor, et al., No. 3:16-cv-1476, N.D. Texas).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court denied two motions to rehear a commercial general liability coverage dispute arising from faulty flanges that resulted in an underlying $6,345,824 settlement against the insured, according to its June 17 orders pronounced list (U.S. Metals Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Group Inc., et al., No. 14-0753, Texas Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - An excess insurer maintains in a June 8 brief filed in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a Texas federal judge erred by not requiring any actual proof of when underlying individual plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos (Longhorn Gasket and Supply Co., et al. v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co., No. 15-41625, 5th Cir.).
DALLAS - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and eight other organizations on June 1 sued Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in Texas federal court in a bid to stop the DOL's finalized fiduciary rule, which they say "exceeds the Department's statutory authority and is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law" (Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. Thomas E. Perez, et al., No. 16-cv-1476, N.D. Texas).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Texas federal judge properly construed the disputed term "communications path" as it appears in three patents directed to improved access to a local area network (LAN), a divided panel of the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 31 (Ruckus Wireless Inc. et al. v. Innovative Wireless Solutions LLC, Nos. 15-1425, -1438, Fed. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9786).
DALLAS - Because an insured failed to prove that a third-party administrator tortiously interfered with an insurance contract when handling underlying asbestos coverage claims on behalf of the insurer, a Texas federal judge on May 20 granted the third-party administrator's motion to dismiss and granted the insured's leave to amend its complaint to replead its claims against the third-party administrator (Celanese Corp. v. OneBeacon America Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-03822, N.D. Texas).
NEW ORLEANS - A "most favored licensee" (MFL) clause in a license agreement allowing JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. (JPMC) to use patented check processing technology was properly interpreted by a Texas federal judge as entitling JPMC to reimbursement after the patent licensor granted a similar unlimited license to another entity for a lesser lump sum, a divided Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 19 (JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. v. DataTreasury Corporation, No. 15-40905, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9203).
HOUSTON - A Texas appellate panel on May 17 affirmed final summary judgment to a grocery store chain in a slip-and-fall action, finding that the plaintiff customer failed to present evidence that a mat and a plastic extension cord cover near a cash register posed an unreasonable risk of harm (Maria Resendiz v. Seller Bros. Inc., No. 1-15-00331-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist., Houston; 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 5178).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on May 18 denied a whistle-blower's motion for a new trial in his False Claims Act case alleging that Abbott Laboratories Inc. promoted its biliary stents for off-label use in the vascular system (United States of America, ex rel. Kevin Colquitt v. Abbott Laboratories, et al., No. 06-1769, N.D. Texas).
MINNEAPOLIS - Dentists from Georgia and Texas filed a proposed class complaint on May 16 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, alleging that 3M Co.'s Lava Ultimate dental crowns contain defects that cause the crowns to de-bond inside patients' mouths up to 50 percent of the time (Vikram Bhatia, D.D.S., et al. v. 3M Company, No. 16-1304, D. Minn.).
TYLER, Texas - In response to a motion by intervenor Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a Texas federal magistrate judge on May 17 ordered certain documents in a patent infringement case over "signal abstracting" anti-piracy technology to be unsealed in light of the presumption of public access to court filings, while permitting the parties to submit redacted copies of the documents in question related to legitimate confidential material (Blue Spike LLC v. Audible Magic Corp., No. 6:15-cv-00584, E.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63956).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - An Indiana federal judge on May 17 found that an errors and omissions insurer breached its duty to defend its life insurance company insured against an underlying lawsuit alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, unjust enrichment, "money had and received" and violations of the Texas Insurance Code (Columbus Life Insurance Co. v. Arch Insurance Co., No. 14-01659, N.D. Ind.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64449).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 9 rejected as time-barred allegations that a seller of aftermarket non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts for a plaintiff's machinery and equipment violated the Copyright Act (Alfa Laval Inc. v. Flowtrend Inc., No. 14-2597, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60742).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on May 5 said an insurer is required only to pay the full amount of a sublimit for all of the crew members injured when an insured ship exploded and caused an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico rather than separate sublimits for each of the four crew members injured in the explosion (United Specialty Insurance Co. v. Porto Castelo Inc. et al., No. 15-1036, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59715).
DALLAS - Summary judgment in an insurance coverage dispute is proper because insureds have failed to provide sufficient evidence showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists that would show they were entitled to coverage under a commercial property insurance policy, a federal judge in Texas ruled May 6 (Seneca Insurance Co. Inc. v. Hamilton Properties Inc., et al., No. 15-0829, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60275).
NEW ORLEANS - Dismissal by a Texas federal judge of allegations of copyright and trademark infringement by an author on grounds of lacking personal jurisdiction was proper, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 5 (Omar Hazim v. Schiel & Denver Ltd., No. 15-20586, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8321).
AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas judge on May 3 granted the special deputy receiver (SDR) of an insurer in receivership's application to disallow a claim brought by a homeowner for damages allegedly already paid by the insurer before it was placed into rehabilitation (The State of Texas and the Texas Department of Insurance v. Vesta Fire Insurance Corporation, et al., No. D-1-GN-002366, Texas Dist., Travis Co.).
SAN ANTONIO - A divided Texas appellate panel on April 29 affirmed the dismissal of a wrongful death action against the owners and operators of oil and gas wells that use a road where a man died as the result of a one-vehicle roll-over accident, finding that they had no duty to repair the road in question or warn of a dangerous condition on the road (Laura Leticia Zepeda Vasquez, Individually and on behalf of the Estate of Jose Abraham Vasquez Jr. v. Legend Natural Gass III, LP, et al., No. 04-14-00899-CV, Texas App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 4480).
WACO, Texas - A settlement agreement that resolved a payment dispute between a general contractor that was hired to construct a housing complex on Sam Houston State University's (SHSU) campus and the subcontractor that installed the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system did not result in a merger of the indemnity clause between the parties' subcontracts, a Texas appellate panel ruled April 28 in reversing the subcontractor's summary judgment award (Capstone Building Corporation v. IES Commercial Inc., No. 10-15-00182-CV, Texas App., 10th Dist.; 2016 Texas App. LEXIS 4449).
GALVESTON, Texas - A Texas federal magistrate judge on April 28 granted an insurer's motion for summary judgment in a coverage dispute arising from the insurer's cancellation of a federal flood insurance policy following Hurricane Ike, dismissing with prejudice all claims against the insurer (Robert Spong and Kerry Spong v. Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Co., et al., No. 10-228, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56474).
AUSTIN, Texas - A commercial general liability insurer's declaratory judgment lawsuit with regard to an underlying construction defect case should be dismissed on the basis that the case lacks ripeness and jurisdiction, a federal magistrate judge in Texas recommended April 28 (Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Christians Development Company, Inc. and Aquarena Plaza, LLC, No. 16-31, W.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56973).
CLEVELAND - An insured filed a notice of appeal to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 27, challenging a number of rulings entered in favor of its insurer in a dispute arising out of coverage for environmental cleanup costs incurred by the insured at a Superfund site in Texas (Arrowood Indemnity Company v. Lubrizol Corporation, No. 1:10-cv-02871-SO, N.D. Ohio).