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Insurer to Charity: Oh, You Meant Rain at the Party?

Last September’s Cattle Baron’s Ball was notable for several reasons. The big outdoor bash at Southfork Ranch in Parker marked one of the last public appearances by the late Larry “J.R.” Hagman. The annual charity event raised nearly $4 million for the American Cancer Society and its cancer-research efforts. The blowout also took place during a driving rainstorm, with the attendees in their turquoise necklaces and Western finery hoisting umbrellas, sloshing through mud, and generally getting dumped on by Mother Nature.

Because of that last point, the cancer society has filed a lawsuit against a couple of insurance brokerages which, it claims, were supposed to indemnify it in the event of rain during the party. Although an insurance policy called for the nonprofit to receive $300,000 to offset extra expenses in case it rained at least one inch, nobody allegedly noticed the fine print: the rainfall was to be measured at the nearest national weather station, which was at Collin County Regional Airport, 12 miles from Southfork. While Southfork did get the requisite inch of rain—and more—less than half an inch fell at the airport that day. Which prompted the insurer to say, “Nice try, but no cigar.” Bill Hethcock’s got the scoop on the flap, including a link to the lawsuit, over at the Dallas Business Journal.