Complex Litigation & Appeals

Shipley Snell is a litigation boutique that routinely handles the most complex and high-value litigation. Because of our focused litigation practice, and lack of bureaucracy, we have structured our firm to better suit our clients' needs.

The job of Shipley Snell lawyers is conflict resolution and, where possible, conflict prevention. In general, our approach to this job takes four forms:

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  • Preparing and pursuing a case through a jury trial or arbitration
  • Preserving error and taking a case through the appeals process
  • Employing creative methods, whether resolving disputes or going to trial
  • Preventing conflicts by helping clients anticipate and short circuit potential problems

Litigation

Shipley Snell attorneys have prosecuted and defended lawsuits in courts around the nation, with an outstanding record of success trying cases to verdicts in our clients’ favor. We have tried or arbitrated highly complex cases for some of the largest global corporations.

Among our guidelines in preparing for and managing cases are the following:

  • Define objectives early and review them regularly throughout the case.
  • Develop a clear, concise, and jury-friendly theory of the case early on.
  • Identify and counsel clients on all of the risks associated with the matter.
  • Determine the right level of intensity based on our clients' goals. For example, taking every deposition possible is rarely the right solution.
  • Evaluate the costs and likely benefits of all proposed discovery efforts.
  • Where appropriate, negotiating settlements is good business, not a sign of weakness.
  • Be willing to take a matter “all the way” if necessary.

For specific examples of trial experience, please see the individual practice and industry descriptions on this site.

Appeals

Appellate advocacy is specialized work. It draws upon talents and skills that are far different from those utilized in other facets of practicing law.
— The Honorable Ruggero J. Aldisert (Winning on Appeal: Better Briefs and Oral Argument (2d ed. NITA 2003))

Our lawyers have handled numerous appeals on behalf of appellants and appellees, in multiple state and federal appellate courts. Our appellate successes include several published opinions. Many of our lawyers are former judicial clerks, including those who worked for appellate judges at both the state and federal levels, giving them invaluable insight into the appellate judicial process. And, the appeals our lawyers have handled involve a wide variety of subjects  — from arbitration awards to personal injury, products liability, toxic tort, and nuisance to insurance, property, energy, and commercial disputes.

Our firm is uniquely positioned not only to present and defend traditional appeals, but also to undertake interlocutory appeals, mandamus petitions, and amicus briefing. In addition, we have extensive experience in preservation of error — itself a unique area of procedural law — which can often make the difference in an appeal even before it happens.

Representative Appellate Cases

·       Alattar v. Ganim, 35 SW.3d 1 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist] 2010, pet. denied improv. granted); obtained reversal of judgment against property owner on statute of frauds grounds and successfully defended court of appeals decision through substantial proceedings in the Texas Supreme Court.

·       Wärtsilä Finland Oy v. Duke Energy Int’l Guat. y CIA, S.C.A., 518 F.3d 287 (5th Cir. 2008): successful defense of a $16 million judgment enforcing an international arbitration award.

·       In re Raymond James & Assocs., Inc., 196 S.W.3d 311 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2006): successful mandamus proceedings to enforce arbitration agreements in securities litigation.

·       IQ Prods. Co. v. Pennzoil Prods. Co., 305 F.3d 368 (5th Cir. 2002): successful defense of summary judgment on Lanham Act claims.

·       Brown v. Pennzoil-Quaker State Co., 175 S.W.3d 431 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, pet. denied): successful defense of personal injury claims stemming from refinery explosion.

·       Newman v. CenterPoint Energy Houston Elec., LLC, 2017 WL 229577 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, no pet.): successfully defended jury verdict in favor of electric utility and persuaded court of appeals to uphold jury charge submitted on premises liability/licensee grounds.

·       Koelsch v. Indus. Gas Supply Corp., 132 S.W.3d 494 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, pet. denied): successful defense of trespass claims arising from natural gas transmission pipeline easement dispute.

·       Pennzoil Co. v. Arnold Oil Co., 30 S.W.3d 494 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2000, no pet.): successful mandamus proceedings to compel arbitration.

·       Cardoza v. Reliant Energy HL&P, 2005 WL 1189649 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2005, no pet.): successful defense of breach of warranty, spoliation, and negligence claims.

·       CenterPoint Energy Houston Elec., L.L.C. v. Harris County Toll Road Auth., 436 F.3d 541 (5th Cir. 2006): successful defense of judgment for $10.2 million resulting from forced relocation of electrical and gas utility facilities from right-of-way.

·       Elloway v. Pate, 238 S.W.3d 882 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, no pet.): successfully defended jury verdict in favor of Pennzoil directors in shareholder action complaining of breaches of fiduciary duties in connection with Shell-Pennzoil merger.

·       Verret v. Am. Biltrite, Inc., 2006 WL 2507318 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2006, pet. denied): successfully defended jury verdict in asbestos exposure case, despite jury charge error, by showing that error was harmless because of lack of evidence quantifying plaintiffs’ asbestos exposure with regard to each defendant.

·       Oxy USA, Inc. v. Southwestern Energy Prod. Co., 161 S.W.3d 277 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2005, pet. denied): successfully reversed summary judgment and obtained rendition that indemnity agreement covered intentional torts and was not against public policy.

·       Schneider Nat’l Carriers, Inc. v. Bates, 147 S.W.3d 264 (Tex. 2004): successfully obtained reversal and rendition in favor of ship channel industries in nuisance case that established new principles to determine when a nuisance is temporary or permanent.

·       Medallion Int’l Corp. v. Sylva, 2004 WL 1211613 (Tex. App.—Waco 2004, no pet.): successfully reversed summary judgment in case involving breach of international consulting contract.

·       Atl. Lloyds Ins. Co. v. Butler, 137 S.W.3d 199 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2004, pet. denied): successfully defended summary judgment on contract, fraud and misrepresentation, and insurance claims arising out of settlement of prior lawsuit.

·       In re Union Carbide Corp., 2003 WL 22682301 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, orig. proceeding): successfully obtained mandamus relief from order compelling production of privileged documents.

·       Creel v. Houston Indus., Inc., 124 S.W.3d 742 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, no pet.): successfully defended summary judgment based on construction of terms in severance agreement.

·       Ball v. SBC Comm’ns, Inc., 2003 WL 2146729 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2003, pet. denied): obtained affirmance of summary judgment in case involving alleged lack of insurable interest in employees covered by corporate-owned life insurance.

·       Cardinal Health Staffing Network, Inc. v. Bowen, 106 S.W.3d 230 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, no pet.): successfully defended denial of temporary injunction in interlocutory appeal involving covenant not to compete.

·       Praytor v. Ford Motor Co., 97 S.W.3d 237 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.): successfully defended no-evidence summary judgment based on lack of qualified and reliable expert testimony.

·       Millan v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 90 S.W.3d 760 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2002, pet. denied): successfully defended directed verdict that broker-dealer was not vicariously liable for broker’s fraud and stealing from client.

·       Entex v. Gonzalez, 94 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, pet. denied): obtained reversal of jury verdict and rendition of judgment in defendant’s favor based on no duty to warn of dangers associated with floor-level water heater.

·       Union Carbide v. Adams, 166 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. J.P.M.L. 2003): successfully petitioned for first statewide multidistrict litigation in Texas.