Analysis of Fairfield: Does It “Raise More Questions Than It Answers”?

Todd Smith of the Texas Appellate Law Blog has a thoughtful post today about last week’s Texas Supreme Court decision in Fairfield Insurance Co. v. Stephens Martin Paving — the case in which the Court answered the Fifth Circuit’s certified question about whether certain insurance against punitive damages was against Texas public policy.

Todd points out the narrowness of the Court’s actual holding in Fairfield — that even the Court’s expanded policy discussions didn’t provide a definitive resolution to how the Court would resolve future cases:

Folks who were hoping for ultimate resolution of whether punitive damages are insurable in Texas are undoubtedly disappointed. Although the Court said more than was needed to answer the Fifth Circuit’s certified question, it stopped well short of adopting a bright-line rule. Indeed, just about everything other than worker’s compensation coverage remains open for further debate under the framework announced in this case.

An Insurance Perspective on Fairfield

The blog Law and Insurance also discusses Fairfield in a post titled “Supreme Court Finds No Broad Prohibition of Insurance Covering Punitive Damages — But …”. That article’s take: “[I]t appeared to me that all nine justices were in general agreement that insurance coverage of punitive damages would offend Texas public policy in some circumstances.”

And a (Very) Long View on Long-Pending Cases

The Sophistic Miltonian Serbonian Blog gives some historical perspective on the length of time that cases are pending before the Texas Supreme Court. It turns out that the average case took 738 days to decide over about a 40 year time period extending into the 1950s.

With such an amazing piece of statistics, I’d say that blog is certainly living up to its slogan — “A vaguely legal-tinged ode to arcana.”