Texas Supreme Court Holds Anadarko’s $100M Deepwater Horizon Defense Costs Are Not Subject To Joint Venture Liability Limits

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The Texas Supreme Court’s reversal clarifies how Texas courts should apply the rules of policy construction.

February 27, 2019
Sergio F. Oehninger & Michael S. Levine - Hunton Andrews Kurth

Reversing a Texas Court of Appeals decision that allowed Anadarko’s Lloyd’s of London excess insurers to escape coverage for more than $100 million in defense costs incurred in connection with claims from the Deepwater Horizon well blowout, the Supreme Court of Texas held that the insurers’ obligations to pay defense costs under an “energy package” liability policy are not capped by a joint venture coverage limit for “liability” insured. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. et al. v. Houston Casualty Co. et al., No. 16-1013 (Tex. Jan. 25, 2019).

While the Lloyd’s of London insurers had agreed to pay Anadarko $37.5 million for damages, they declined to cover $100 million-plus in defense fees, arguing that both Anadarko’s liability and defense expenses are subject to the $37.5 million joint venture limit for “liability” insured. Anadarko asserted that only amounts paid as damages to third parties are subject to that limit. Defense costs, however, are not amounts paid as damages to a third party and, thus, are not a “liability.” Those amounts, therefore, are not subject to the joint venture limit and are instead subject to the policy’s $150 million coverage limit.

Reprinted courtesy of Sergio F. Oehninger, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Michael S. Levine, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Mr. Oehninger may be contacted at soehninger@HuntonAK.com
Mr. Levine may be contacted at mlevine@HuntonAK.com



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