Claire W. Parsons Partner

     

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Claire Parsons focuses her practice on ERISA, professional liability, insurance coverage, and product liability matters. She is responsible for managing cases in all stages of litigation in state and federal courts. Her experience extends to welfare benefit litigation, products liability, legal malpractice, medical practice, premises liability, mortgage fraud actions and insurance coverage disputes. Claire’s appellate experience includes researching and drafting briefs in the Court of Appeals for the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Districts of Texas; petitions for review in the Texas Supreme Court; and briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Areas of Focus

Life, Health, Disability & ERISA
Claire has a broad understanding of the insurance industry and self-funded plans and she works closely with insurers, underwriters, claims personnel, insurance agents and contract drafters. With a strong working knowledge of their respective businesses, she has defended cases involving claims for denial of short- and long-term disability benefits, denial of accidental death and dismemberment benefits, life insurance rescission and claims issues, eligibility for ERISA medical benefits and medical provider insurance fraud. She has successfully defended multiple insurance industry clients in ERISA actions in the Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas, as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lawyers
In the area of legal malpractice defense, Claire has considerable experience defending attorneys sued for legal malpractice, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and deceptive trade practices, and other causes of action arising from underlying litigation and business transactions. She has handled all aspects of the defense of such claims from pre-litigation investigations through discovery, retention of experts and dispositive motions. Keeping the client’s interests and objectives in mind, she has negotiated successful settlements on behalf of attorneys, in addition to pursuing successful motions for summary judgment. Her defense of legal professionals includes successful appeals to the First and Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas and a successful petition for review to the Texas Supreme Court.

Medical Malpractice
Claire has many years experience defending malpractice claims against doctors, nurses, mental health care providers and other health care professionals.  Through her knowledge of Texas statutes governing malpractice claims against medical providers, Claire has helped her clients in the medical field obtain early dismissal of lawsuits through challenges to expert reports and deficiencies in pleadings.  Her experience includes defense of health care professionals through pre-suit analysis of claims, discovery and analysis of comprehensive medical records, retention and deposition of medical experts, alternative dispute resolution and trial.

Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith
Claire’s practice includes the defense of bad faith lawsuits against insurers and third party administrators that could result in large punitive damage awards.  She has defended and provided property and casualty coverage analysis in dozens of cases arising from hurricanes, hail storms, and other natural disasters effecting Texas’ Gulf Coast region.  She has also provided coverage analysis in professional liability matters, crafted reservation of rights letters, and defended such matters in state and federal court.  Claire’s successful defense of insurance clients includes many advantageous settlements as well as summary judgment motions. 

Product Liability
Claire has handled product liability matters throughout Texas, in both state and federal court.  As part of this practice, she has defended foreign corporations and assisted them in seeking dismissal through jurisdictional challenges.  Her product liability defense experience includes defense of manufacturers and sellers of boats, steering systems, nutritional supplements, agricultural equipment, and steel pipe.

Representative Matters

Drafted motion to compel arbitration, subsequent application for writ of mandamus in the court of appeals, and successful petition for review to the Texas Supreme Court on issue of whether a Sabine Pilot claim must be arbitrated under certain amendments to the FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure.

Obtained summary judgment for attorney sued by former clients seeking millions of dollars in damages based on the attorney’s handling of a complex business transaction. The summary judgment ruling was upheld by both the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas and the Texas Supreme Court.

Obtained summary judgment for local youth sports league sued by minor spectator whose foot was amputated while playing on fixtures on adjacent premises. The district court and the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio both found that the sports league owed no duty to the child and dismissed all claims against the league. The Texas Supreme Court upheld their rulings.

Achieved settlements on behalf of medical benefit insurers and third-party administrators in disputes involving the insurer, health care providers and plan sponsors.

Drafted multiple successful summary judgment motions in ERISA welfare benefit matters in which the district courts found that the insurer/claim fiduciary did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiffs’ claim for benefits.

Negotiated advantageous settlement of mortgage fraud actions brought against client who served as closing attorney in multiple residential real estate transactions involving subsequent loan defaults by buyers.

Prepared successful motion to dismiss medical malpractice action against a medical doctor based on the plaintiff’s failure to provide a medical expert report in compliance with the Texas Medical Liability Act.

Forced early nonsuit of a defamation claim against a media client based on the strength of a motion to dismiss the action based on the Texas Citizen Participation Act, which allows for prompt dismissal of legal actions that threaten to chill the right to free speech or right to petition.

Obtained summary judgment on behalf of a business owner sued by a former employee who was sexually assaulted on the business premises.

Drafted successful 12(b)(6) motion to achieve dismissal of $1 million coverage action in federal court within six weeks of initiation of lawsuit.

Obtained summary judgment on behalf of attorney who represented the plaintiff mold remediation contractor in an underlying lawsuit. The district court dismissed all claims against the attorney, including claims for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty; the First Court of Appeals in Houston upheld the dismissal.

Represented insurance agency sued for allegedly unpaid commissions and wrongful termination of former insurance agent employee. The district court granted partial summary judgment on most of the agent’s claims, which enabled the client to negotiate an advantageous settlement with the agent before trial.

Monitored trials as counsel and/or representative of the defendants’ insurance carriers in multiple high-profile and large-exposure disputes, including a racial discrimination lawsuit in federal court against a communications company; a retaliation lawsuit involving a Houston-area car dealership; an age discrimination lawsuit against a university in the Corpus Christi area; three whistle-blower lawsuits against universities in the Houston and Galveston areas; an accounting malpractice lawsuit in Harris County district court; and a complex, multiple-party medical malpractice action in Louisiana state court.

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