Our trial practice group handles a wide variety of complex litigation matters, including

Commercial and Business Litigation

Some of the significant recent commercial cases we have handled include the following:

  • The firm successfully defended a private bank and its affiliate from a claim to proceeds recovered by the clients for significant property damage and business losses to a large commercial property. The firm obtained a dismissal of all claims under Rule 91a.
  • The firm successfully represented royalty interest owners in a large carbon dioxide fields in Colorado, in a lawsuit against ExxonMobil (the working interest owner). After a one-week trial, the jury found ExxonMobil breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing by selling the CO2 at an artificially low price over several years. This litigation will have a beneficial impact for royalty interest owners in this field going forward.
  • The firm successfully represented a power company in a “baseball” arbitration concerning the sale of a $250 million power generation plant, in which our opponents sought damages of $125 million. After a one-week proceeding, the arbitration panel chose our side’s proffered damage figure, and found our opponents were entitled to recovery from our client of only one percent of the damages claimed.
  • The firm successfully obtained a substantial arbitration award in favor of several former counsel of an oilfield heir in a fee dispute. We upheld this award in the subsequent federal trial and appellate proceedings confirming it.
  • The firm represented a nationwide financial institution in a breach of fiduciary duty case arising from the administration of oil and gas interests in a trust, where the plaintiffs sought $60,000,000 in damages.  Following a two-week jury trial in federal court, the jury returned a take-nothing verdict in favor of our client.
  • The firm negotiated a favorable settlement for former officers and directors of a bankrupt company who were accused of breach of fiduciary duty, usurpation of corporate opportunity, theft of trade secrets, and securities fraud (demand of $21 million).
  • The firm represented an entrepreneur in a matter involving claims of breach of fiduciary duty and usurpation of corporate opportunity based on the client’s participation in an initial public offering that resulted in stock holdings in the new company valued at $75 million.
  • The firm represented the estate of a former director of a California biotechnology company accused of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and conspiracy.  The plaintiffs alleged damages of more than $30,000,000. The case was favorably resolved prior to trial.
  • The firm represents a power production company in a multi-million dollar commercial arbitration concerning the sale of an electricity generating plant.  We obtained a vacatur of an unfavorable arbitration award against our client on the grounds of evident partiality on the part of the arbitrator chosen by our opponent.
  • The firm represented former officer and director accused of breach of fiduciary duty in connection with company’s environmental liabilities. The firm obtained a dismissal of all claims and recovered client’s attorneys’ fees.
  • The firm represented former employee of major financial institution against fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, state securities and related claims arising from services provided to private clients related to tax shelters.
  • The firm represented two corporate directors of First City Bancorp in securities fraud litigation arising out of the Texas savings and loan crisis. The claims involved allegations of accounting fraud due to improper loan write-downs and were dismissed in the trial court. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims against these directors.
  • The firm represented a corporate officer of a seismic technology corporation in a securities fraud litigation against the company, numerous officers and directors, and its auditors. The claims involved accounting fraud due to improper revenue recognition, following an SEC investigation and the company’s restatement of financials. The firm obtained a favorable settlement client.
  • The firm took over a case that had been pending for 16 years, representing a limited partner in a claim against an oil & gas operator. After a two-week trial, The firm achieved a favorable jury verdict, and then obtained a ruling from the court of appeals that our client should be entitled to bring some claims the court had dismissed before The firm was hired.
  • The firm obtained a judgment in federal court dismissing claims against a contractor for property damage and lost profits arising from the explosion of a power transformer.
  • The firm obtained a state court judgment of more than $2.5 million in damages in favor of a gas well operator arising from the failure of fracking equipment provided by an oilfield supply company.

Insurance Coverage

We have represented clients on a variety of coverage issues, including allocation of loss and expense with respect to multiple occurrences, multiple policies and multiple policy periods; the application of aggregation and accumulation provisions found in certain reinsurance agreements; reinsurance treatment of extra-contractual obligations; and claims and defenses based upon misrepresentation and non-disclosure.

  • After a plaintiff was injured on an oil well, the plaintiff sued the well’s insurer seeking to recover costs paid out of court. WCB argued the Texas No-Direct Action Rule prevented the plaintiff from recovering any relief from our client until it was determined that an obligation existed compelling the insured to pay damages to the plaintiff. The trial court agreed and granted WCB’s motion to dismiss all claims against our client.
  • The firm successfully won summary judgment for an insurance carrier after a party sought recovery of $30 million as an additional insured under several policies issued to its contractor. Two employees of an independent contractor conducting asbestos remediation at the party’s refinery were severely burned when, while attempting to wash off scaffolding, the hose they used released hydrocarbons instead of water. A California state court found that, because the injuries “arose out of” asbestos abatement, coverage was excluded as a matter of law. The court also rejected arguments by the purported insured that the policy’s asbestos abatement exclusion was ambiguous or required asbestos exposure to cause the injuries.
  • The firm successfully won summary judgment for insurance carriers after their insured sought to use its pre-merger D&O liability policies to fund another company’s acquisition of the insured. After the merger was approved, dissenting shareholders sought a judicial accounting of the value of their cancelled shares. The insured and the company acquiring it settled the appraisal actions, claimed the settlement funding represented additional deal costs for the acquiring company, and then sued the insured’s carriers to pay these increased costs. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of the carriers that the insured take nothing on its claims for these costs.
  • The firm represented a refining company its insurers in the defense of a declaratory judgment action regarding whether our client was an additional insured of another excess carrier and whether that carrier owed indemnity under its policy for the settlement of an underlying lawsuit. A jury found for our client on all issues submitted.
  • The firm represented an insurer in a coverage matter involving whether a hospital provided proper notice under a claims-made policy and whether the denial of coverage was in bad faith. Tried to a favorable judgment in federal court.
  • The firm represented a market of insurers in a large Hurricane Ike lawsuit involving damage to an industrial facility. The case settled favorably for a confidential amount prior to trial.
  • The firm represented an excess insurer in a lawsuit brought against a number of primary, umbrella and excess insurers by a corporate insured seeking a defense and indemnification against liability for asbestos-related bodily injury claims.
  • The firm defended an insurer in a complex coverage suit filed by a large commercial policy holder. The coverage suit involved claims for insurance coverage arising out of landfill and disposable waste activities. The case settled favorably for our client prior to trial.
  • The firm represented an insurer in separate, but similar, suits for property damage in multiple Texas counties. All claims against our clients were dismissed.
  • The firm obtained a judgment dismissing all claims against our insurance carrier clients for coverage allegedly owed to an oil & gas company.

Intellectual Property

We have represented clients in a number of patent infringement, trademark and trade secrets matters including the following:

  • The firm was lead counsel for a national chemical company defending a patent infringement and trade secrets lawsuit tried in the Eastern District of Texas. Trial resulted in a judgment as a matter of law in favor of our client on the trade secret claims and a minimal judgment for alleged patent infringement.  On appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, we obtained a judgment in our client’s favor that the patent at issue was invalid.
  • The firm represented a manufacturer of a well-known energy drink in a matter involving claims of theft of trade secrets, patent infringement, and copyright/trademark infringement.  After protracted litigation in multiple state and federal courts in Texas, the matter settled favorably for our client.
  • The firm assisted with post-verdict motions and briefing to uphold a multi-million trade secrets verdict in client’s favor in federal district court. The firm handled the appeal, and the verdict was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Serious Personal Injury and Product Liability

We have represented clients on both sides of the docket, ranging from injuries sustained in automobile, trucking, and heavy equipment accidents, to offshore injuries involving ships and rigs. Our trial practice group handles a wide variety of complex personal injury and products liability cases, including those involving medical drugs and devices.

  • After a plaintiff fell on premises owned by our client, he sued for recovery of personal injury damages. In the trial court, WCB argued that the premises owner was not liable and owed no duty because the alleged hazard was open and obvious. The court agreed and dismissed the case, overturning a jury’s verdict of over $1.3 million.
  • WCB defended an engineering firm from design defect and negligent inspection claims where a plaintiff fell from an attic and sustained severe injuries. The plaintiff claimed damages of $8 million, alleging the attic was designed and installed improperly and the home inspection failed to identify a dangerous condition. WCB obtained a complete defense verdict.
  • Following an arrest for aggravated assault, plaintiff sued our client in Federal District Court claiming that he had been wrongfully arrested and detained. However, after he failed to serve our client with the required summons and copy of the complaint, WCB successfully convinced the Magistrate and District Court Judges that, under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, his case should be dismissed.
  • The firm has represented numerous trucking companies against claims stemming from accidents involving trucks and buses. The firm recently represented a national trucking company and tried a case involving serious personal injury claims in Brownsville, Texas.  The case settled in middle of trial for a favorable result for our client.
  • For a number of years, The firm represented a national nursing home company with a number of homes in Texas. The firm resolved many of the cases in favor of the client.
  • The firm represented an apartment complex owner in a case involving a sexual assault on one of its residents.  The jury returned a verdict for our client.
  • The firm represented an injured plaintiff in a products liability case against several international tire manufacturers. The firm ultimately secured a favorable settlement in favor of client.
  • The firm represented manufacturer of propane heater in a Texas federal court products liability action. All claims against our client were ultimately dismissed with prejudice.
  • The firm routinely handles several products liability matters for a major pharmaceutical and medical device company.
  • Howard Close was lead counsel for seven different insurance carriers in a multi-billion dollar insurance coverage action in Jefferson County, Texas regarding breast implant products manufactured by Bristol Myers. Mr. Close was the lead attorney conducting jury voir dire for the defendants. After jury selection, the court ordered the parties to mediate the matter, and the case settled favorably.
  • The firm obtained a judgment dismissing all personal injury liability and damages claims against our oil & gas company clients arising from a workplace accident.

Employment Discrimination

  • The firm successfully defended a company against racial discrimination claims by a former employee, asserted under Title VII. After the employee reported the discriminatory acts to a supervisor, the offending employees were either fired or disciplined; however, the plaintiff subsequently failed to return to work and was fired. Following a bench trial, a federal district court found the company took appropriate action to punish the discriminatory conduct and did not create a hostile work atmosphere or constructively discharge the plaintiff. As a result, the court found our client not liable for harassment or discrimination.
  • The firm successfully represented an employee suing her former employer for religious discrimination after it fired her for attending church services on a Sunday instead of reporting to work. Following a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict that the employer failed to reasonably accommodate our client’s sincere religious beliefs and acted improperly in firing her. The jury awarded our client her damages, in the form of lost wages and other personal injury damages.

Construction / Professional Liability

  • WCB represented a civil engineering firm in a design defect case in which the plaintiffs claimed damages in excess of $10 million arising from a retaining wall system. After the plaintiffs failed to include a required certificate of merit, we secured a dismissal of the claims and successfully defended the ruling on appeal.