Duty to Indemnify, but not to Defend

The case of Gilbane Building Co. v. Admiral Insurance (No. 10-20817, Dec. 12, 2011) involved an insurer’s duty to defend and indemnify an injury claim under Texas law.  The Court first reviewed the basic rules in the Circuit for an “Erie guess” about state law.  Op. at 4-5 & 8 n.2.  The Court found that Texas’s “express negligence” rule was limited to contractual indemnity and did not bear on whether the plaintiff was an “additional insured.”  The Court then applied Texas’s “eight corners” rule and found no duty to defend, reminding that this rule “consider[s] only the facts alleged in the pleadings and . . . not . . . factual assumptions or inferences that were not pleaded.”  Id. at 13.   The Court declined to recognize an exception to the “eight corners” rule for claims involving a plaintiff’s unpleaded contributory negligence.  Id. at 14-17.  The Court concluded by affirming the district court’s summary judgment for the insured on the duty to indemnify, applying a broader standard based on “the facts proven in the underlying suit.”  Id. at 17-18 & n.4 (acknowledging that “this may seem like an unusual result,” but referring to a similar result in D.R. Horton v. Markel Int’l Ins., 300 S.W.3d 740, 744 (Tex. 2009)).

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