Sunday, November 23, 2008

When indemnity hinges on choice of law | Texas Supreme Court remands case for application of LA law

Contractual Choice of Law: Case remanded for retrial under Louisiana law. In prior mandamus proceeding Court granted insurer opportunity to participate as nonparty in appeal.

Sonat Exploration Co. v. Cudd Pressure Control, Inc.
No. 06-0979 (Tex. Nov. 21, 2008) (Brister)(choice of law where no express provision in the contract applied to the oilfield accident in Louisiana, duty to indemnify, Rule 11 Agreement, intervention of insurer in appeal)
SONAT EXPLORATION COMPANY v. CUDD PRESSURE CONTROL, INC.; from Harrison County; 6th district (06-03-00077-CV, 202 SW3d 901, 09-26-06) 2 petitions The Court affirms the court of appeals' judgment, but on different grounds. Justice Brister delivered the opinion of the Court.

FROM THE OPINION: This case returns to us after we ordered that an insurer be allowed to argue on appeal a choice-of-law issue that its insured had waived.[1] The court of appeals sustained the insurer’s point, finding that Louisiana law applied because it was the place the contract was performed and was impliedly chosen by the parties. While we disagree with those reasons, we agree with the court’s ultimate conclusion that Louisiana law applies and that remand is required. Accordingly, we affirm.

Prior mandamus case: In re Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 184 S.W.3d 718 (Tex. 2006)("We hold that under the unusual circumstances this case presents, Lumbermens is entitled to invoke the virtual-representation doctrine to raise on appeal the choice-of-law issue its insured abandoned in order to settle uninsured claims in another suit, and the court of appeals abused its discretion in holding otherwise. Accordingly, we conditionally grant the writ of mandamus and direct the court of appeals to permit Lumbermens’ participation to contest the trial court’s choice-of-law ruling. The writ will issue only if the court fails to do so.")

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