Merlin Law Group Houston based attorney Patrick McGinnis turns 50 today. I wrote a blog about me turning 50, Chip Merlin Turns Fifty Years Old. So, I thought I could write one for Patrick.

What does a property insurance nerd write to honor somebody making it to this grand old age? How about a property insurance case decided on the day he was born?

Well, on the day after Patrick was born, a Texas Hurricane Carla case, Hartford Fire Insurance Company v. Christianson,1 was decided. It is still an important decision because it sets out the very unique law Texas courts make policyholders prove to win a wind versus flood causation dispute:

[T]he burden was on [the policyholder] to prove by a preponderance of the evidence not only that his loss was directly caused by the hurricane, but that it was not caused by any of the excluded perils named in the policy, such as high water, wave action, flood, or the other perils not insured against; also, if caused by a combination of wind and any of such excluded perils, the percentage of loss caused by the excluded perils.

This rule is unique because the other 49 states make insurance companies prove that the loss was excluded under an all risk or open perils policy. Texas judges never accepted that concept nor the change the insurance industry made when developing the all risk policy versus a direct or specified perils policy.

Patrick’s grandfather, James A. McGinnis, was a "land man" for the South Penn Oil Company (now Pennzoil) and in the early 1900s he was sent to Cisco, Texas, when the West Texas Field was discovered. That is how Patrick’s family got to Texas.

We—and policyholders—are lucky that he got to our law firm.

Happy Birthday!!

1 Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Christianson, 395 S.W.2d 53 (Tex.Civ.App. 1965).