On December 15th, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to revisit its April 7, 2017 decision in USAA Texas Lloyds Co. v. Menchaca, No. 14-0721, a “bad faith” case arising out of Hurricane Ike damage, in which the court held that a policyholder could potentially recover policy benefits for statutory bad faith under Texas law, even though a jury concluded that the insurer did not breach the terms of the policy, if the policyholder could show that she was nevertheless entitled to the benefit. The decision to rehear this matter comes at the urging of insurers and interested groups, including the Insurance Council of Texas and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who argued that the April 7, 2017 ruling substantially unsettled Texas insurance law.
Menchaca is a first-party property insurance coverage case. After Hurricane Ike struck in 2008, plaintiff Menchaca submitted a claim under her homeowners policy to USAA. A USAA adjuster later concluded that Menchaca’s property suffered only “minimal damage” that fell below the deductible. Menchaca sued claiming breach of contract and unfair claims settlement practices in violation of the Texas Insurance Code. As damages, she sought only the policy benefit, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.