Rob Gilbreath Secures Victory in Texas Supreme Court for D.R. Horton

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Duty-to-Indemnify Rule

December 11, 2009

In an opinion released today, the Texas Supreme Court clarified its duty-to-indemnify ruling in Farmers Tex. County Mut. Ins. Co. v. Griffin, 955 S.W.2d 81 (Tex. 1997). Some courts have mistakenly understood that case to mean that as a matter of law, an insurer owes no duty to indemnify its insured if there is no duty to defend. Today's decision in D.R. Horton-Texas, Ltd. v. Markel Int'l Ins. Co., Ltd.clarifies that the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify are separate and, as such, must be separately analyzed. The homeowner plaintiff's pleadings did not trigger a duty to defend, but the Supreme Court held that D.R. Horton's summary judgment evidence raised a fact question whether its carrier might nonetheless be required to indemnify D.R. Horton against the plaintiff's claims. The carrier relied on Griffin to argue that no duty to defend necessarily means no duty to indemnify, but the Supreme Court observed that its holding in Griffin "was fact specific and cannot be construed so broadly." The case has been closely followed by specialists in insurance coverage law.

D.R. Horton was represented in the Texas Supreme Court by Robert B. Gilbreath of Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young and Blake S. Evans of Schubert & Evans.

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