On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed the question of whether the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court holding in Vaughan v. Atkinson, 369 U.S. 527 (1962) requires courts hearing maintenance and cure cases to construe disputed medical evidence in the seaman’s favor. In Witbart v. Mandara Spa (Hawaii), LLC
Commercial Lease Considerations in the Wake of Hurricane Laura
Commercial Lease Considerations in the Wake of Hurricane Laura
Following disasters such as Hurricane Laura, business owners have a variety of concerns when beginning the recovery process. Chief among those concerns: what to do when your place of business has been damaged or destroyed? If you lease your place of business, or if you lease out land or buildings to other people for their businesses, this concern becomes especially important when you consider the different parties with a potential interest in the recovery—the lessor (landlord), the lessor’s insurer, the lessor’s lender, the lessee (tenant), the lessee’s insurer, and the lessee’s lender. Being familiar with your lease agreement is the key to understanding the extent of your rights and responsibilities, especially as they pertain to repair obligations, obligations regarding the payment or reimbursement of insurance deductibles, insurance recovery, and rights to termination and reduction (abatement) of rent. As an initial matter, the first question you should ask yourself is: What kind of lease agreement do I have?
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Louisiana Governor Signs 2020 Tort Reform Legislation
One of the major outcomes of the 2020 Louisiana Legislative session was the passage of tort reform legislation that supporters argue will lower insurance rates and change the state’s notoriously litigious environment. The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, House Bill 57 (“HB57”) introduces a number of key changes:
- Allows jury trials if damages sought exceed $10,000 (the prior rule required $50,000 in damages);
- Revised the controversial “collateral source rule”;
- Repealed the limitation on presenting evidence of a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt in a car accident; and
- Limits the discussion of a party’s insurance coverage before a jury except (with limited exceptions).
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SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton
Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages. The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue. The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit alleging a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh. Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.…
Highly Anticipated En Banc Fifth Circuit Opinion Reframes Maritime Contract Analysis
In a highly anticipated ruling, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its en banc decision in In re: Larry Doiron, Inc., No. 16-30217 (5th Cir. Jan. 8, 2018). The case called upon the court to determine whether a contract for performance of specialty services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil and gas on navigable waters is maritime in nature. In ruling that the particular contract at issue in the case was non-maritime, the Fifth Circuit took the significant step of streamlining and re-framing the analysis for maritime contracts generally.
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Fifth Circuit Addresses A Complicated Cargo Dispute, Resulting In A Victory For Vessel-Operating Common Carriers
In GIC Services, L.L.C. v. Freightplus USA, Inc., No. 15-3097 (5th Cir. Aug. 8, 2017), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an ocean carrier stiffed by an intermediary in a freight transaction may recover unpaid freight from the original NVOCC who arranged the cargo transportation unless the evidence clearly shows the carrier intended to release that party from liability. The court further held that the carrier may protect its interest in unpaid freight against the cargo in rem, and weighed in on several other issues pertinent to the maritime field. The key points of the lengthy opinion are highlighted below.
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United States Fifth Circuit Confirms Remedies Available to Subrogated Insurer
On July 7, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, in Associated International Insurance Company v. Scottsdale Insurance Company, held that, under Texas law, the subrogation clause of an insurance agreement allowed a subrogated insurer to seek reformation of a contract between its insured and a third party. In that appeal, the defendant’s primary and excess insurer settled a lawsuit. The excess insurer, Associated International Insurance Co., then sought reimbursement from Scottsdale, an insurer that had also issued a commercial umbrella policy to the insured defendant. Scottsdale argued Associated could not seek reimbursement because the property that had been at issue in the underlying suit was not listed on Scottsdale’s schedule of covered properties.
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Louisiana Flooding – Legal Update
The Liskow & Lewis family stands by our friends and neighbors throughout the unprecedented flooding in our community. As we begin the long process of recovery, here is a brief legal update on the response of various courts and state agencies:
- State courts: Governor John Bel Edwards has issued an executive order which purports to
The Fifth Circuit Further Clarifies Service Contract and Insurance Interplay Under Texas Law
Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co. v. Aspen Underwriting Ltd. et al., No. 13-51027 (5th Cir. June 10, 2015)
In March 2013, the federal Fifth Circuit ruled in the Deepwater Horizon litigation, under Texas law, that the scope of additional insured coverage was to be determined based only upon the four corners of the policy and that…
A premises owner can still be a statutory employer in Texas, at least for now
The Supreme Court of Texas issued a decision on rehearing in Entergy Gulf States, Inc. v. Summers April 3, 2009. The court’s original unanimous decision in August 2007 that a Texas premises owner can be a statutory employer for workers’ compensation purposes produced a great deal of political heat and a flurry…