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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: In 1968, Dr. James Knott began practicing obstetrics and gynecology with Dr. Robert Kuhne. Around 1970, the doctors formed a professional association, Kuhne & Knott Gynecological Associates, which was eventually renamed Richardson Women’s Clinic. In the early 1970s, Knott met with Ellis Garland Gatlin, an insurance agent, to discuss buying disability insurance. Knott eventually bought two policies: one issued in 1970 and a second policy issued in 1974. The policies, as amended, provided benefits for total disability and partial disability, among other things. In June 1985, Knott suffered a spine fracture in a plane crash and underwent surgery (a thoracolumbar fusion) to stabilize the fracture. Knott was unable to return to work until August 1985. On December 19, 1985, Knott submitted a claim to Provident. Within five days of receipt of Knott’s claim, Provident issued Knott a check for $7500 in total disability benefits. However, in a letter dated February 19, 1986, Provident requested repayment of the $7500, less $1250 in benefits, because Knott had failed to satisfy the “90-day elimination period,” which was a condition of coverage. The ninety-day elimination period refers to a requirement that the total disability continue for more than ninety days, and benefits, if any, would commence on the ninety-first day of a covered disability. The parties negotiated this dispute, which culminated in a solution described in Provident’s March 21, 1986, letter to Knott. The March letter stated that Provident would treat Knott’s claim “on a residual basis,” waive Knott’s premiums as long as he was disabled, and waive repayment of the $7500. Under this arrangement, Knott continued to submit claims for benefits through 1989, and Provident continued to pay benefits. In 1991, Provident informed Knott that he no longer qualified for residual benefits and that Provident planned to resume billing him for his premiums. Provident had discontinued billing for these premiums while Knott was receiving benefits under the policy. Knott retained an attorney who negotiated the payment of premiums with Provident, and, apparently, Provident agreed to continue to waive Knott’s premium payments. Knott did not submit another claim until December 1995. Provident did not pay Knott any additional benefits until 1996. Except for a two-month period immediately following the 1985 plane crash, Knott worked as a physician from 1985 through 1995, performing all of his pre-accident duties except for certain surgical and office examination procedures. On August 20, 1995, Knott turned sixty-five. A few months later, on December 15, 1995, Knott submitted a claim for total disability to Provident. No new event or accident precipitated the claim. After the 90-day elimination period was satisfied, Provident began to pay Knott benefits under the policies. Provident made total disability payments to Knott for twenty-four months. Then, in a letter dated March 11, 1998, Provident notified Knott that it was closing his claim because it had paid him the maximum benefits to which he was entitled. Under the “policy schedule” in both disability insurance policies at issue, the maximum benefit period for total disability commencing on or after the insured’s sixty-fifth birthday is twenty-four months. An insured who has a total disability that commences prior to his sixty-fifth birthday is entitled to lifetime benefits under the policies. In August 1998, Knott sued Provident and the executrix of Gatlin’s estate for breach of contract, misrepresentation, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, violations of the Texas Insurance Code and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The trial court granted Provident’s and Gatlin’s motions for summary judgment without specifying the grounds for its judgment. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment on Knott’s breach of contract claim against Provident, remanding the claim to the trial court, but affirmed the trial court’s judgment on the remaining claims (misrepresentation, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code and the DTPA). HOLDING: Reversed in part and affirmed in part. Because the insured in this case was able to perform some of the important and usual duties of his occupation as a physician, he was not totally disabled under the policies’ terms. The insured’s extra-contractual claims are barred by limitations. The court disapproves of language in Commonwealth Bonding & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Bryant, 240 S.W. 893 (Tex. 1922); Great S. Life Ins. Co. v. Johnson, 25 S.W.2d 1093 (Tex. Comm’n App. 1930, holding approved); and Prudential Ins. Co. v. Tate, 347 S.W.2d 556 (Tex. 1961), to the extent that the language suggests that it is proper to disregard defined terms in a policy in favor of definitions not expressed in the parties’ written agreements. When terms are defined in an insurance policy, those definitions control the interpretation of the policy. Trinity Universal Ins. Co. v. Cowan, 945 S.W.2d 819 (Tex. 1997). Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, the court concludes that Provident established as a matter of law that Knott was not totally disabled from a disability that commenced prior to his sixty-fifth birthday. Provident’s February 1986 letter conveyed its denial of Knott’s claim for total disability and the reasons for its decision to reject the claim. As of the time of the February letter, Provident had paid Knott $7500 in total disability benefits in response to Knott’s claim under the policies. However, the letter also indicates that upon further review of new material received from Knott’s treating physician, Dr. Wharton, Provident determined that Knott failed to meet the ninety-day elimination provision of the policy. Taken with Dr. Wharton’s Nov. 20, 1985 report, this letter establishes that Provident considered Knott totally disabled only from June 9, 1985 through August 4, 1985, and partially disabled through Nov. 20, 1985, the date of Dr. Wharton’s report. Although the letter does not use the word “deny,” the letter clearly conveys Provident’s position that Knott was not entitled to the $7500 for total disability coverage and that Provident was seeking a reimbursement of the overpayment of benefits. Provident denied Knott’s claim for benefits for total disability and instead agreed to provide him with benefits “on a residual basis” in its February 1986 letter. Thus, the court agrees with the court of appeals that the statutes of limitations for Knott’s extra-contractual claims against Provident and Gatlin expired long before he filed suit in August 1998. OPINION: Wainwright, J., delivered the opinion of the court.

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