Karen K. Milhollin

Karen is the quintessential coverage lawyer, known for her expertise and appellate prowess in complex energy and marine insurance disputes. Her analysis and advice have been instrumental in the favorable resolution of numerous high-risk claims and cases for international and domestic insurers. She brings a wealth of experience gained over 30 years of trial and appellate work in multi-million dollar cases involving subrogation recovery, control-of-well, builders risk, offshore package, commercial property, professional liability, excess liabilities, marine and reinsurance coverages. The number of coverage opinions she has authored on different policy forms could fill a barn, making her the “go-to” lawyer for unique and difficult coverage issues.

She doesn’t stop there—subrogation and energy-related commercial cases are a significant part of her practice. Her high energy, “can-do” attitude, and attention to detail are the hallmarks of her reputation among trial and appellate practitioners and judges. Clients praise her innovation, problem-solving and ability to navigate through the most difficult cases. Karen is licensed to practice in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Illinois, and has tried cases and argued appeals in each of those jurisdictions.

Recognized as a top-rated lawyer in Texas and a regular speaker at CLE conferences on coverage, Karen has never met an insurance contract she did not like. Born and bred a Yankee, Karen has successfully absorbed some southern charm and firmly believes there is no substitute for attention to detail, hard work and tireless energy to help her clients achieve success.

Experience
  • Recovered a $14 million judgment for property damage and deferred production on behalf of London-based insurers and oil and gas operator against dredger and the United States after the dredge, under contract to the government, ran over and severed the operator's 20-inch gas pipeline in the Atchafalaya Ship Channel.
  • Argued and won in the Texas Supreme Court a domestic well-control insurer’s contractual right to recover an overpayment to an insured that misrepresented its ownership interest in a well blowout and fire, resulting in a $2 million recovery.
  • Lead appellate counsel for subrogated London-based insurers against a Spanish chain manufacturer for a defective tether chain on an oil and gas riser causing excess of $400 million in damage to a subsea production facility.
  • Provided coverage advice for builders risk insurers in $50 million stuck pipeline claim in offshore New York.
  • Lead appellate counsel in the Texas Supreme Court in case involving sufficiency of expert testimony to support an $8 million judgment against a foreign manufacturer for a defective product suspected of causing a chemical warehouse fire.
  • Coverage advice to foreign insurers for $300 million in losses arising from pipeline explosion at Australian processing facility.
  • Trial co-counsel and lead appellate counsel for domestic insurer in coverage dispute over oil well blowout and issues of first impression regarding Texas Prompt Payment Act.
  • As lead trial counsel, obtained complete exoneration of drilling consultant in an arbitration dispute between working-interest owners and an operator over a $4.3 million well drilled in the wrong location.
  • As lead trial counsel, obtained dismissal on summary judgment of duty to defend bad faith case against insurer involving claim of $9 million in lost revenues for breach of gas sale contract after attempted plant repairs shut down a processing facility.
  • Provided coverage advice for English solicitors regarding $175 million claim against an oil and gas company for bad faith and conspiracy to breach a contract to hire a North Sea drilling rig.
Success
  • Texas pesticide manufacturing company burned after a gas-vapor explosion occurred in an industrial oven presumably caused by drums of chemicals they were melting at temperatures recommended by the manufacturer. Level of contamination could be not be determined, but all other causes were ruled out. While the jury found the product defective and awarded the Texas company $8.37 million, the trial judge tossed out the verdict on the grounds no definitive proof the product was defective. Court of appeals reinstated the verdict because evidence of contamination was sufficient. Texas Supreme Court sided with the trial court indicating proof of a defect was lacking. Case Study
  • Dredging company hired to dredge a ship channel in the Gulf ran its dredge over a subsea gas pipeline, causing an explosion and fire. We filed suit against the dredge company and the United States, which had permitted the pipeline installation and dredging project. We obtained a federal court judgment for the oil company that owned the pipeline and for its insurers for the property damage. Trial court found the incidence was caused 60% by the Corps of Engineers negligence, and 40% by the dredger’s negligence and awarded our clients $13.89 million in damages. Case Study
  • Two years after drilling a dry hole in a Louisiana lake at a cost of $4.3 million, a Texas oil company and its working interest owners discovered the well had been drilled 600 yards from the intended target. The oil company demanded arbitration against our client, who provided a consultant to supervise the drilling, and against the company that drilled the well and the company that towed the drilling barge into position. After a full hearing, the arbitration panel accepted our proof that the drilling supervisor was not responsible for navigation of the drilling barge to the correct location. The panel found the oil company responsible and liable to its investors for its gross negligence. Case Study
Education
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D., 1985 (Moot Court Editorial Board, Freshman Moot Court Competition Overall Winner, National Quarterfinalist National Trial Advocacy Competition)
  • DePauw University, B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy, 1982 (National Honor Society, Academic Council, Chairman Student Judicial Board)
Admissions
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits
  • U.S. District Courts of Texas (all districts)
  • U.S. District Courts of Louisiana (all districts)
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • All state trial and appellate courts in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Illinois
Awards/Rankings
  • Named a Top Rated Lawyer in Texas, Martindale-Hubbell, March 2015
  • AV Preeminent Rating, Martindale-Hubbell, 2000-2015
  • Top Rated Lawyers of Texas, Texas Top Lawyers, 2013

Memberships
  • Fifth Circuit Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Houston Bar Association
Speaking Engagements
  • Texas Supreme Court Update and 2014 Projections: Lennar Homes, Warren and Ewing: An Insurer’s Right to Restitution from an Insured for Policy Benefits Paid but not Owed, 2014 Texas Insurance Law Symposium, South Texas College of Law
  • The Prompt Payment Act: Who Owes What and When, 18th Annual Insurance Law Institute, University of Texas Continuing Legal Education, 2013
  • Restaurant Tables, Hotel Rooms & Insurer Rights: How Commons Mistakes Result in No Reservations of Rights, Annual Insurance Law Institute, University of Texas Continuing Legal Education, 2008
  • The Ten Most Important Insurance Cases from 2006, Texas Insurance Law Symposium, South Texas College of Law, 2006
  • Untangling the Tangle of Insurance and Ethical Issues Arising from the Texas Supreme Court’s Decision in Frank’s Casing, Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference, University of Texas Continuing Legal Education, 2006

Publications
  • Texas Supreme Court Update and 2014 Projections: Lennar Homes, Warren and Ewing: An Insurer’s Right to Restitution from an Insured for Policy Benefits Paid but not Owed, 2014 Texas Insurance Law Symposium, South Texas College of Law
  • The Prompt Payment Act: Who Owes What and When, 18th Annual Insurance Law Institute, University of Texas Continuing Legal Education, 2013
  • Restaurant Tables, Hotel Rooms & Insurer Rights: How Commons Mistakes Result in No Reservations of Rights, Annual Insurance Law Institute, University of Texas Continuing Legal Education, 2008
  • The Ten Most Important Insurance Cases from 2006, Texas Insurance Law Symposium, South Texas College of Law, 2006
  • Untangling the Tangle of Insurance and Ethical Issues Arising from the Texas Supreme Court’s Decision in Frank’s Casing, Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference, University of Texas Continuing Legal Education, 2006
  • Indemnity on the Outer Continental Shelf, Tulane Maritime Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1, Winter 2002, (co-author Julia M. Adams)
  • Ethical Advice Attorneys Can Give Their Clients and Employees and Unethical Advice They Can’t (Shouldn’t) Give, Preventing and Responding to the Maritime Emergency, South Texas College of Law, (co-author Julia M. Adams), 2000
  • Ethical Dilemmas in Marine Insurance Coverage – Four (or More) Repeat Offenders, Seminar for the New Millennium, Houston Mariner’s Club, (co-author Julia M. Adams), 2000