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August 28, 2020
This week the Texas Supreme Court has issued 16 grants and no opinions. This blog discusses four of these recent grants, which address issues of particular interest.

On October 28, 2020 the Court is set to hear oral arguments in a case out of Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals, Waste Management of Texas Inc. and Rigoberto Zelaya v. Robert Stevenson. This is a personal injury case in which the Court will determine whether the label “independent contractor” can defeat summary judgment when there is evidence of actual control over that worker at the time that he was injured.

On October 29, 2020 the Court is set to hear oral arguments in Los Compadres Pescadores L.L.C. v. Juan G. Valdez and Alfredo Teran, a case out of the Corpus Christi-Edinburg Court of Appeals. This is an electrocution-injury case concerning a property owner’s liability. There are three major issues that have been identified in this case. The first is whether Chapter 95 applies regardless of whether a claim arises from the same improvement on which the injured individual was working when the injury occurred. The second is whether the condition of the improvement, or workplace in general, is relevant to a Chapter 95 analysis. Lastly, the Court will assess the effects on a property owner’s liability when a jury finds constructive, rather than actual, knowledge of an on obvious condition.

On December 2, 2020, the Court is set to hear oral arguments in In re State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Terecina Shahan, out of the Dallas Court of Appeals. This is an underinsured-insurance dispute in which the Court will assess underinsured-motorist benefits. This case should provide answers to three uninsured-insurance issues. First, the Court will consider whether a policyholder can sue claiming a violation of Insurance Code’s prompt-settlement provision, without having proved he is entitled to underinsured-motorist benefits. Secondly, the Court will analyze whether a policyholder’s entitlement to underinsured benefits include prompt-payment violations. Third, the Court will consider whether the trial court in this case abused its discretion when it decided the underinsured-motorist benefit issues before severing and abating the Insurance Code claims.

On December 2, 2020, the Court is also set to hear oral arguments in a case out of the San Antonio Court of Appeals, In re USAA General Indemnity Co. The issues in this case deal with the right to and need for a second trial after the insurer agreed to be bound following a negligence verdict. The Court will hear argument regarding the trial court’s conclusion that a second trial was necessary to determine the coverage of the underinsured-motorist, and will consider USAA’s entitlement to mandamus relief. The Court will also consider whether collateral estoppel applies to bar the policyholder from litigating negligence and damages in a second trial.

The Bassett Firm