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LaDawn Nandrasy Obtains Win for Policyholder in Fifth Circuit Coverage Appeal

By News & Events

LaDawn NandrasyScheef & Stone is delighted to announce LaDawn Nandrasy’s victory in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a coverage lawsuit between her client, the policyholder, and its insurer.

In a published opinion, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court’s ruling in favor of the insurer on its duty to indemnify the policyholder for potential liability in an underlying lawsuit was premature and incorrect.

The underlying lawsuit involved claims by eight plaintiffs in South Carolina against the policyholder, an online car auction company. The plaintiffs alleged that the company’s vehicles had leaked pollutants, contaminating ponds and streams on their properties. While the underlying suit was still pending, the district court in the insurer’s coverage action granted the insurer summary judgment on both the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify, based on pollution exclusions in the policies. In reaching its indemnity holding, the court reasoned that because the insurer had no duty to defend, “it follows that it has no duty to indemnify.” The Fifth Circuit reversed this holding.

The Court found “faulty,” the assumption that the duty to indemnify cannot exist where there is no duty to defend. The Court clarified that “the facts adduced at trial might differ from the allegations, and thus, a duty to indemnify could be shown notwithstanding the absence of a duty to defend.”

The Court further concluded that the underlying lawsuit’s settlement while the coverage ruling was pending on appeal did not alter the analysis. “[W]hether and to what extent the settlement amount is covered by [the insurer’s] policies,” the Court explained, “will take place on remand in this coverage litigation.” Accordingly, the insurer ultimately may be required to reimburse the policyholder for payments the policyholder made in settlement of the underlying lawsuit.

Amy Elizabeth Stewart, Managing Principal of Amy Stewart PC, joined LaDawn as co-counsel for the policyholder. The firm congratulates the entire team for their diligent efforts and successful outcome of the appeal.

This legal victory has garnered attention from prominent legal publications, including Texas Lawyer, Law360, Property Casualty 360, Attorney at Law Magazine, the Global Legal Chronicle, and others. For detailed coverage of the case, readers may access the articles through the respective websites (logins required).

Scheef & Stone Welcomes LaDawn Nandrasy to the Firm

By News & Events

LaDawn NandrasyScheef & Stone is pleased to announce that LaDawn Nandrasy has joined the firm. LaDawn will practice as a member of the firm’s Appellate team.

LaDawn is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a prestigious credential earned by less than 1% of practicing Texas lawyers and joins the firm with more than three decades of appellate law experience. She has tried cases in several appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of Texas and the Fifth Circuit.

“To say we’re thrilled to have LaDawn join Scheef & Stone is an understatement,” said Founding Partner, John Scheef. “The appellate experience and bench depth that she brings to the firm is incomparably remarkable and she will be invaluable to our clients and our firm.”

LaDawn’s achievements have been recognized by Texas Super Lawyers in Appellate Law as well as a Top 50 Women Lawyer in Texas. D Magazine named her a Best Women Lawyer in Dallas and included her in the Best Lawyers in Dallas in Appellate Law.

Committed to the legal profession, LaDawn serves in a variety of capacities. She is a member of the Oversight Committee of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Pattern Jury Charges. Four times, she has authored the chapter on Interlocutory Appeals for the Texas Practitioner’s Guide to Civil Appeals in Texas. Her other roles have included leadership at the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section as a Council Member and as Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee.

Devoted to her community, LaDawn’s has served on several non-profit boards including Empowering Women as Leaders and Hope International, an international adoption agency that assisted with the adoption of her daughter from overseas.

The addition of LaDawn further solidifies Scheef & Stone’s position as a leader in the legal community and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead with her joining our team.