In June 2013, commercial properties owned by TopDog Properties and insured by GuideOne National Insurance Company sustained wind and hail damage. After its first inspection, GuideOne determined that the loss fell below TopDog’s deductible and denied the claim. GuideOne refused to reinspect the property and then rejected TopDog’s request to resolve the dispute through appraisal, explaining that the policy had a unilateral appraisal provision which only GuideOne could invoke and it refused to do so.
TopDog’s only option was to hire an attorney and file suit against GuideOne, which they did in 2014, alleging claims for breach of contract, common-law and statutory bad faith, and violations of the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act (TPPCA).
Over eight months after the lawsuit was filed, GuideOne reversed course and demanded appraisal. Over TopDog’s objection, the trial court compelled the case to appraisal. The damage was so obvious that both appraisers agreed that TopDog’s roofs needed to be replaced as a result of the hail damage, and set the loss at $168,808. After paying the appraisal award, GuideOne moved for summary judgment arguing that TopDog was not entitled to attorney’s fees or any other damages because GuideOne paid the appraisal award. The trial court granted GuideOne’s summary judgment dismissing all of TopDog’s claims, and the court of appeals affirmed. TopDog appealed the case to the Texas Supreme Court.
Today, without hearing oral argument, the Texas Supreme Court of Texas reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and trial court. The case will now go back to the trial court to consider TopDog’s claims for breach of contract, common law and statutory bad faith claims and Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act (TPPCA) claim. Matthew Pearson, TopDog’s lead attorney, said that “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a win for all Texas policyholders.”
Pearson Legal, P.C. represents property owners on contingency in insurance recovery and construction defects litigation, as well as commercial litigation, throughout the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. The firm represents commercial property owners, school districts and other public and private entities. According to Texas Lawyer, Matthew R. Pearson (founder of Pearson Legal), is responsible for some of the largest insurance verdicts in the State of Texas in recent years.