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Expert Testimony Legally Insufficient to Support Verdict

In an appeal from a judgment on a jury verdict against current lease operator for underpaid royalties on casinghead gas, the court of appeals reversed, holding the evidence was legally insufficient. Because the testimony of plaintiff’s expert did not comport with the language of the… + read more

In an appeal from a judgment on a jury verdict against current lease operator for underpaid royalties on casinghead gas, the court of appeals reversed, holding the evidence was legally insufficient. Because the testimony of plaintiff’s expert did not comport with the language of the leases, it constituted no evidence of the operator’s failure to pay royalties. Additionally, the proceeds to which expert pointed as the basis for his theory were proceeds of the sale of gas after processing  rather than as produced at the wellhead. Moreover, the royalty owners’ expert’s testimony did not comport with state law as to the determination of the market value of casinghead gas, and thus did not support the verdict that the lease operators underpaid royalties on market-value leases. Deborah Hankinson represented Occidental Permian in this successful appeal. Occidental Permian Ltd. v. Helen Jones Foundation, 333 S.W.3d 392 (Tex. App. – Amarillo 2011, pet. denied).

 

Breach of Contract Judgment Reversed and Vacated on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen were two of the lawyers who represented defendants Hampden Corporation and Fantasy Diamond Corporation in an appeal of a judgment after a bench trial awarding the plaintiff over $750,000 in damages for breach of a commission agreement. Following oral… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen were two of the lawyers who represented defendants Hampden Corporation and Fantasy Diamond Corporation in an appeal of a judgment after a bench trial awarding the plaintiff over $750,000 in damages for breach of a commission agreement. Following oral argument, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that the parties tried the breach of contract action by consent and by granting the plaintiff leave to file an amended petition after the trial to assert that cause of action. The court thus vacated the judgment in its entirety and remanded the case to the trial court to allow it to consider the evidence at trial in light of the claims pleaded in the plaintiff’s earlier-filed petition. Hampden Corp. v. Remark, Inc., 331 S.W.3d 489 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2010, pet. denied).

 

Default Judgment Reversed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick was part of the team that successfully represented defendants Paul Williams and Hughes-Roth Financial Group in an appeal of a no-answer default judgment awarding the plaintiff Nexplore Corporation over $300,000 in damages and attorney’s fees and the right to cancel Williams’s 10 million… + read more

Brett Kutnick was part of the team that successfully represented defendants Paul Williams and Hughes-Roth Financial Group in an appeal of a no-answer default judgment awarding the plaintiff Nexplore Corporation over $300,000 in damages and attorney’s fees and the right to cancel Williams’s 10 million shares of stock in Nexplore valued at approximately $7 million.  The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas held that the trial court never obtained personal jurisdiction over the defendants because substituted service was not property authorized, and that the default judgment rendered against the defendants was therefore void.  The court thus reversed the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.  Williams v. Nexplore Corp., No. 05-09-00621-CV, 2010 WL 4945364 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010, pet. denied.) (mem. op.).

 

Take-Nothing Summary Judgment Affirmed on Claims Arising from Operation of Traffic Signal Enforcement System

Jennifer Rangel Stagen was on the legal team that represented ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., a corporation that provides traffic signal enforcement systems to municipalities, in the appeal of a take-nothing summary judgment in its favor. The plaintiff had been cited for a red-light… + read more

Jennifer Rangel Stagen was on the legal team that represented ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., a corporation that provides traffic signal enforcement systems to municipalities, in the appeal of a take-nothing summary judgment in its favor. The plaintiff had been cited for a red-light violation, and brought claims against ACS for purported violations of the Texas Debt Collection Act and negligence per se based on alleged violations of the Texas Occupations Code and the Texas Transportation Code. The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment in favor of ACS on all grounds. Amanda Ward v. ACS State and Local Solutions, Inc., d/b/a LDC Collection Systems, 328 S.W.3d 648 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010, no pet.).

 

Supreme Court Strikes Down Unconstitutionally Retroactive Statute

Representing the estate of a worker who died of mesothelioma, Deborah Hankinson successfully argued to the Texas Supreme Court that a statute limiting corporate successor liability for asbestos-related claims was unconstitutionally retroactive. The statute was enacted after the plaintiff filed common law negligence and product… + read more

Representing the estate of a worker who died of mesothelioma, Deborah Hankinson successfully argued to the Texas Supreme Court that a statute limiting corporate successor liability for asbestos-related claims was unconstitutionally retroactive. The statute was enacted after the plaintiff filed common law negligence and product liability claims against the defendant, a successor corporation to an asbestos manufacturer. The court held the statute’s retroactive elimination of plaintiff’s mature common law tort claims, which had a substantial basis in fact, disrupted his reasonable, settled expectations under the law. The statute was enacted to help only the defendant, and no one else. Because the legislature made no findings on any substantial public interest that the statute served, the court concluded that the public interest served by the statute was slight. Robinson v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 335 S.W.3d 126 (Tex. 2010).

 

Court Upholds Jury Verdict of No Substantial Oil and Gas Drainage

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment on a jury verdict in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, Occidental Permian. The court held the evidence was legally sufficient to support the jury’s finding that substantial drainage of oil or gas from a lease did… + read more

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment on a jury verdict in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, Occidental Permian. The court held the evidence was legally sufficient to support the jury’s finding that substantial drainage of oil or gas from a lease did not occur. In so holding, the court relied on the testimony of two experts who found no evidence of substantial drainage and on production data that was consistent with that expected in a bottom water drive reservoir such as the lease at issue. Additionally, the court held that because the trial court reasonably could have found the testimony of an expert rebuttal witness to be unreliable, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in instructing the jury to disregard it. Finally, the court held any error in the trial court’s admission of an expert’s previously undisclosed opinion was harmless in light of the other evidence that was legally sufficient to support the verdict. Petroleum Synergy Group, Inc. v. Occidental Permian, Ltd, 331 S.W.3d 14 (Tex. App. – Amarillo 2010).

 

Fraud Judgment Reversed and Rendered on Appeal

Brett Kutnick was a principal member of the legal team that represented defendant Peter Gottlieb in an appeal of a judgment awarding the plaintiff $233,000 in actual damages and $466,000 in exemplary damages for fraud after a multi-week jury trial. The Dallas Court of Appeals denied… + read more

Brett Kutnick was a principal member of the legal team that represented defendant Peter Gottlieb in an appeal of a judgment awarding the plaintiff $233,000 in actual damages and $466,000 in exemplary damages for fraud after a multi-week jury trial. The Dallas Court of Appeals denied the plaintiff’s appeal seeking additional damages, concluded that there was no evidence to support the jury’s fraud finding against Gottlieb, and reversed the trial court’s judgment and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing from Gottlieb. Cerullo v. Gottlieb, 309 S.W.3d 160 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2010, pet. denied).

 

Dallas’ Hankinson, Levinger Named Among State’s Top Appellate Attorneys by Chambers USA

DALLAS – Deborah Hankinson and Jeffrey Levinger, founding partners in the Dallas-based civil appellate firm of Hankinson Levinger LLP, are recognized as two of the state’s top appellate lawyers in the prestigious Chambers USA 2010 legal directory. The U.K.-based publication exclusively lists law firms and… + read more

Attorney:

DALLAS – Deborah Hankinson and Jeffrey Levinger, founding partners in the Dallas-based civil appellate firm of Hankinson Levinger LLP, are recognized as two of the state’s top appellate lawyers in the prestigious Chambers USA 2010 legal directory. The U.K.-based publication exclusively lists law firms and attorneys who are strongly recommended based on in-depth interviews with peers and clients.

Ms. Hankinson, a former Texas Supreme Court Justice, practices appellate law and serves as a mediator and arbitrator in cases involving a variety of complex legal issues. In addition to her work at Texas’ highest civil appellate court, Ms. Hankinson previously served as a Justice on the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas.

The publication notes that the “incredibly talented” Ms. Hankinson “is recommended for her intimate knowledge of judiciary procedures and her seasoned approach.” She was recognized earlier this year as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America by Lawdragon; one of D Magazine’s Best Women Lawyers in Dallas; and as one of the country’s top appellate attorneys in The Best Lawyers in America. She has been recognized among Texas’ top lawyers each year since the Texas Super Lawyers list first was published in 2003, and is ranked by Texas Lawyer newspaper as one of the state’s “Go-To” appellate attorneys, 2007.

Mr. Levinger, who has practiced appellate law for more than 25 years, is cited by Chambers as a “highly experienced, talented and knowledgeable appellate specialist”. Earlier this year, Mr. Levinger was named to “The Defenders,” an elite list of North Texas’ top business defense attorneys published by the Dallas Business Journal. He currently serves as Chairman of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Pattern Jury Charges (Malpractice, Premises, and Products) and is an officer of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section. He has been recognized among Texas’ top lawyers each year since the Texas Super Lawyers list first was published in 2003, and also was honored earlier this year in D Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Dallas listing. Mr. Levinger also is listed in The Best Lawyers in America as one of the nation’s top lawyers in both appeals and commercial litigation, since 2008.

Hankinson Levinger, the preeminent civil appellate firm in the Southwest, provides clients with innovative legal insights and judicial perspective in all phases of litigation. The firm’s attorneys work with trial teams to develop strategies designed to put a case in the best position before, during, and after trial. Hankinson Levinger represents national clients, regional companies, governmental bodies, and individuals with trial and appellate matters, and offers mediation and arbitration services as well.

Learn more about the firm at http://www.hankinsonlaw.com.

For more information on Hankinson Levinger and the Chambers honor, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

Attorney:

 

Judgment Allowing Judicial Foreclosure Affirmed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick successfully represented plaintiff LPP Mortgage in the defendants’ appeal of a judgment for judicial foreclosure following a bench trial.  The Court of Appeals held that LPP Mortgage’s suit for foreclosure following its unsuccessful attempt to collect a judgment on the debt was not… + read more

Brett Kutnick successfully represented plaintiff LPP Mortgage in the defendants’ appeal of a judgment for judicial foreclosure following a bench trial.  The Court of Appeals held that LPP Mortgage’s suit for foreclosure following its unsuccessful attempt to collect a judgment on the debt was not barred by res judicata, waiver, or the Texas statute of limitations, and thus affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of LPP.  Stephens v. LPP Mortgage, Ltd., 316 S.W.3d 742 (Tex. App.—Austin 2010, pet. denied).

 

Lawdragon 500 Names Deborah Hankinson ‘Leading Lawyer’

DALLAS – Noted Dallas appellate lawyer and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson has been named one of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Ms. Hankinson, a name partner in Dallas’ Hankinson Levinger, practices appellate law and serves as a mediator and arbitrator… + read more

DALLAS – Noted Dallas appellate lawyer and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson has been named one of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America.

Ms. Hankinson, a name partner in Dallas’ Hankinson Levinger, practices appellate law and serves as a mediator and arbitrator in cases involving a variety of complex legal issues. Ms. Hankinson served as a Justice both on the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas and the Supreme Court of Texas, she is a member of the American Law Institute, and is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

The Lawdragon 500 is compiled based on a combination of written submissions, nominations and comments received through an online ballot, in addition to editorial research by Lawdragon staff. The list represents 0.04 percent of all lawyers in the U.S.

“I’m honored to be named one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America,” says Ms. Hankinson. “We work hard to give our clients top-quality legal services, both at the trial and appellate levels. To have that work acknowledged by our peers is gratifying.”

Being named to the Lawdragon 500 is just the latest honor for Ms. Hankinson. She has repeatedly earned selection as:

  • One of D Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Dallas, and was honored in that magazine’s list of the Best Women Lawyers in Dallas, 2010.
  • One of the Best Lawyers in America in Appellate Law, according to The Best Lawyers in America, 2008-2011.
  • One of the Top 100 Lawyers in Texas and Top 50 Women Lawyers, as published by Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters legal division.
  • A Top Notch Lawyer in Appellate Law in the October 8, 2007 issue of Texas Lawyer’s Go-To Guide.
  • One of the best business defense lawyers in Dallas by the Dallas Business Journal in 2009.

Hankinson Levinger, the preeminent civil appellate firm in the Southwest, provides clients with innovative legal insights and judicial perspective in all phases of litigation. The firm’s attorneys work with trial teams to develop strategies designed to put a case in the best position before, during, and after trial. Hankinson Levinger represents national clients, regional companies, governmental bodies, and individuals with trial and appellate matters, and offers mediation and arbitration services as well.

Learn more about the firm at http://www.hankinsonlaw.com.

For more information on Ms. Hankinson and Hankinson Levinger, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

 

 

 

Temporary Injunction Reversed in Interlocutory Appeal

Brett Kutnick successfully represented Alliance Royalties, LLC and Alliance Royalties, Inc., in an interlocutory appeal challenging a temporary injunction that enjoined them from terminating a Management Agreement with Compass Royalty Management, LLC.  After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth… + read more

Brett Kutnick successfully represented Alliance Royalties, LLC and Alliance Royalties, Inc., in an interlocutory appeal challenging a temporary injunction that enjoined them from terminating a Management Agreement with Compass Royalty Management, LLC.  After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas held that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the injunction because the injunction effectively rewrote a contract that was terminable at will and imposed a contractual relationship upon the parties that was contrary to the specific contractual provisions regarding termination.  The court therefore reversed the trial court’s injunction order and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.  Alliance Royalties, LLC v. Boothe, 313 S.W.3d 493 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2010, no pet.).

 

Hankinson Client Prevails in Trespass to Try Title Action

In this trespass to try title action, the plaintiff operator had filed suit against another operator who had purchased a lease on a tract of land on which the plaintiff also claimed to hold a lease. Ruling in favor of the defendant, represented by Deborah… + read more

In this trespass to try title action, the plaintiff operator had filed suit against another operator who had purchased a lease on a tract of land on which the plaintiff also claimed to hold a lease. Ruling in favor of the defendant, represented by Deborah Hankinson, the court of appeals held that the plaintiff had introduced insufficient evidence at trial to establish superior title out of a common source. The court reasoned the operator could not fill a gap in record title through the oral expert testimony of an attorney, and that documentary evidence is required to establish title. The court of appeals also concluded that the plaintiff had introduced no evidence to prove title by prior possession of the property through production from wells on the lease. McCammon v. Ischy, 2010 WL 1930149 (Tex. App. – Austin 2010, pet. denied).

 

Appellate Attorney from Dallas’ Hankinson LLP Honored in Texas Rising Stars List

DALLAS – The Dallas-based appellate law boutique Hankinson LLP is pleased to announce that firm attorney Brett Kutnick again has earned a place on the list of Texas Rising Stars, which honors the state’s top young lawyers. The 2010 Texas Rising Stars selections are based… + read more

Attorney:

DALLAS – The Dallas-based appellate law boutique Hankinson LLP is pleased to announce that firm attorney Brett Kutnick again has earned a place on the list of Texas Rising Stars, which honors the state’s top young lawyers.

The 2010 Texas Rising Stars selections are based on nominations from fellow attorneys who previously were honored on the prestigious Texas Super Lawyers list. Selection is limited attorneys age 40 and under and those who have been practicing law a decade or less. Overall, only 2.5 percent of eligible Texas attorneys earn the Rising Stars honor each year.

Mr. Kutnick has earned a spot on the prestigious list six times in his legal career. The 2010 Texas Rising Stars list will be published in the May edition of Texas Monthly magazine.

Mr. Kutnick has a strong business background and business litigation experience. He has successfully handled complex business litigation at the trial-court and appellate levels, including contract disputes, business torts, legal malpractice, and breach of fiduciary duty claims. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, where he was a member of the Texas Law Review, Chancellors, Order of the Coif, and the Legal Research Board. Mr. Kutnick earned his B.B.A. degree in honors business and finance from The University of Texas.

Hankinson LLP, the preeminent civil appellate firm in the Southwest, provides clients with innovative legal insights and judicial perspective in all phases of litigation. The firm’s attorneys work with trial teams to develop strategies designed to put a case in the best position before, during and after trial.  Hankinson LLP represents national clients, regional companies, governmental bodies and individuals with trial and appellate matters, and offers mediation and arbitration services as well.

Attorney:

 

Take-Nothing Judgment in Intellectual Property Dispute Affirmed on Appeal

In Rusty’s Weigh Scales v. North Texas Scales, the plaintiff alleged that NTS misappropriated trade secrets when it repaired industrial weighing scales originally sold and programmed by the plaintiff. Hankinson LLP was hired to represent NTS after the trial court initially rendered judgment for the… + read more

In Rusty’s Weigh Scales v. North Texas Scales, the plaintiff alleged that NTS misappropriated trade secrets when it repaired industrial weighing scales originally sold and programmed by the plaintiff. Hankinson LLP was hired to represent NTS after the trial court initially rendered judgment for the plaintiff. Deborah Hankinson successfully persuaded the trial court to withdraw the first judgment and render judgment that the plaintiff take nothing.  After briefing and argument, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of NTS, concluding that the plaintiff provided insufficient evidence to support any damages award. Rusty’s Weigh Scales v. North Texas Scales, 314 S.W.3d 105 (Tex.App.—El Paso 2010, no pet.).

 

Judgment on Breach of Contract and Misappropriation of Trade Secret Claims Reversed and Rendered on Appeal, and Judgment in Favor of Counterclaimant Affirmed

Brett Kutnick successfully represented defendant/counter-plaintiff Impact Equity and its two owners in their appeal of a $400,000 judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff for breach of a confidentiality agreement and misappropriation of trade secrets and in the plaintiff’s cross-appeal of a $776,000 judgment rendered… + read more

Brett Kutnick successfully represented defendant/counter-plaintiff Impact Equity and its two owners in their appeal of a $400,000 judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff for breach of a confidentiality agreement and misappropriation of trade secrets and in the plaintiff’s cross-appeal of a $776,000 judgment rendered in favor of Impact Equity on a claim for breach of a fee agreement.  After oral argument, the Dallas Court affirmed the judgment in favor of Impact Equity on its breach-of-contract claim and reversed and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing on its claims.  Calce v. Dorado Exploration, Inc., 309 S.W.3d 719 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010, no pet.).

 

Judgment on Breach of Contract and Misappropriation of Trade Secret Claims Reversed and Rendered on Appeal, and Judgment in Favor of Counterclaimant Affirmed

Brett Kutnick was a principal member of the legal team that represented defendant/counter-plaintiff Impact Equity and its two owners in their appeal of judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff for breach of a confidentiality agreement and misappropriation of trade secrets and in the plaintiff’s… + read more

Brett Kutnick was a principal member of the legal team that represented defendant/counter-plaintiff Impact Equity and its two owners in their appeal of judgment rendered in favor of the plaintiff for breach of a confidentiality agreement and misappropriation of trade secrets and in the plaintiff’s cross-appeal of a judgment rendered in Impact Equity’s favor on a claim for breach of a fee agreement. The Dallas Court affirmed the judgment in favor of Impact Equity on its breach of contract claim and reversed and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing on its claims. Calce v. Dorado Exploration, Inc., 309 S.W.3d 719 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2010, no pet.).

 

$61 Million Judgment for Breach of Bond Indenture Reversed and Rendered on Appeal

Brett Kutnick was a principal member of the legal team that represented Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the appeal of a $61 million judgment based on a jury verdict that Sears breached a bond indenture by prematurely redeeming corporate bonds held by a number of… + read more

Brett Kutnick was a principal member of the legal team that represented Sears, Roebuck and Co. in the appeal of a $61 million judgment based on a jury verdict that Sears breached a bond indenture by prematurely redeeming corporate bonds held by a number of institutional investors. The Dallas Court of Appeals sustained Sears’ no evidence challenge because the investors failed to present any evidence of breach, and thus reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment against the investors. After Sears responded to the investors’ petition for review, the Texas Supreme Court denied the petition. Sears, Roebuck and Co. v. AIG Annuity Ins. Co., 270 S.W.3d 632 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2008, pet. denied).

 

Hankinson Client Prevails in Indemnification Offset Argument

Manchester, the manufacturer of an LP-gas cylinder that exploded, appealed from the trial court’s denial of its indemnification claim against ECI, the manufacturer of the cylinder’s valve assembly component. Ruling in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, ECI, the Court of Appeals held Manchester was a… + read more

Manchester, the manufacturer of an LP-gas cylinder that exploded, appealed from the trial court’s denial of its indemnification claim against ECI, the manufacturer of the cylinder’s valve assembly component. Ruling in favor of Deborah Hankinson’s client, ECI, the Court of Appeals held Manchester was a manufacturer as to ECI within the meaning of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, and not just a mere seller. Because the injured claimants’ pleadings in the underlying products liability case alleged that both the valve and cylinder were defective, both ECI and Manchester had a duty to indemnify each other. The proof at the indemnification trial, however, established that neither the cylinder nor the valve was defective. Therefore, the parties’ duties of indemnification offset each other. Manchester Tank & Equip. Co. v. Engineered Controls Intern., Inc., 311 S.W.3d 573 (Tex. App. – Waco 2009, pet. denied).

 

Mandamus Granted by Texas Supreme Court to Enforce the Employer’s Arbitration Agreement

Rick Thompson represented the employer in an original proceeding to enforce an arbitration agreement in an Employee Injury Benefit Plan, which was signed by the employee who was killed during the course and scope of his employment. The trial court and court of appeals refused… + read more

Rick Thompson represented the employer in an original proceeding to enforce an arbitration agreement in an Employee Injury Benefit Plan, which was signed by the employee who was killed during the course and scope of his employment. The trial court and court of appeals refused to enforce the arbitration agreement against the employee’s surviving family members who had not signed the Plan. The Texas Supreme Court held that the surviving family members, as wrongful death beneficiaries, were derivative claimants and were therefore bound by the decedent’s agreement to arbitrate. The Court conditionally granted the employer’s petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to enter an order compelling arbitration of the surviving family members’ claims against the employer. In re Golden Peanut Co., 298 S.W.3d 629 (Tex. 2009).

 

Hankinson LLP Successfully Defends Against Appellate Challenge to District Court’s Distribution of Marital Estate in Favor of Client

Rick Thompson successfully represented the Wife in the appeal of the district court’s division of the marital estate.  Notably, the El Paso Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision to admit parol evidence to prove the terms of a lost premarital agreement proffered by… + read more

Rick Thompson successfully represented the Wife in the appeal of the district court’s division of the marital estate.  Notably, the El Paso Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision to admit parol evidence to prove the terms of a lost premarital agreement proffered by Wife.  See Jurek v. Couch-Jurek, 296 S.W.3d 864 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2009, no pet.).