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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Texas Insurance Case Attempt to Answer the Age Old Question of whether you’re “in” a car that’s lying on top of you

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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I’ve recently developed the disturbing habit of relaxing by listening to recordings of oral arguments. Oyez.org offers all the U.S. Supreme Court arguments, nearly as soon as they happen. Listening to Boumediene v. Bush ended up coming in pretty handy on my Con Law final, though I’ll reserve judgment on whether it did me any good until grades come out. Recently I’ve been getting into the oral arguments from the Texas Supreme Court, which is particularly entertaining for the ‘aw shucks’ down-home-y demeanor of some of the advocates.

So far my favorite is 06-0987 UNITED STATES FIDELITY and GUAR. CO. v. GOUDEAU, an insurance case dealing with a good Samaritan who was injured after stopping to help a stranded motorist and being pinned between his own car and the guardrail when struck by another motorist. He’s trying to recover on an under-insured motorist policy that unfortunately for him, is limited by the terms of the contract to “occupying a covered vehicle” as defined by the USF&G policy. See the petitioner’s brief (.pdf) for more background. For the most part, it’s about as exciting as a pig in the shade, but a little after the half-way mark it gets a little surreal as the justices try to parse precedent on whether one can construe “occupying” to include being run over by the car you just stepped out of. The cases cited are, while tragic in the way of all accidents, so bizarre it’s funny. You can bet I won’t be turning my back on my own car any time soon.

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06-0987 UNITED STATES FIDELITY and GUAR. CO. v. GOUDEAU (.mp3) [via Supreme Court of Texas Oral Argument Archive]

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