Fishman Haygood, a top-tier law firm in Louisiana, features a group of up-and-coming litigators with deep and broad experience. Two partners are making their first appearance on the 40 & Under List. Daniel Dysart is a commercial litigator who has developed a practice along the Gulf Coast, handling cases involving multi-district litigation and environmental-related claims. Dysart is handling an environmental pollution case in which he represents Reynolds Metals Company, a subsidiary of Alcoa, against Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District. The lawsuit stems from a prior operator’s operation of a solid waste landfill. As such, Dysart and the team filed third-party claims against the successors-in-interest for defense and indemnity and were successful on the motion for summary judgment. The matter was ultimately resolved before the April 2022 trial date. Dysart, along with Rebekka Veith, have also served on the team representing Knauf Gips, an international manufacturer of building products, in multi-district litigation, as well as in state court. Dysart and Veith resolved and tried bellwether cases and property damage claims to settlements. They continue to represent the client in individual cases throughout courts in the Gulf Coast like Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Veith’s primary focus is representing clients in environmental litigation. Veith represents the plaintiffs against the company of the Limetree Bay Refinery in St. Croix in a putative class action filed after emission events caused significant contamination and other damages to the island. Commercial litigator Michael Dodson and Veith represent a developer in a highly publicized matter arising from the New Orleans’ Hard Rock Hotel collapse in 2019. Dodson and team have completed the first stage of document discovery and conducted extensive inspections and evidence testing with experts in 2022. The team has a lead role in resolving larger claims through confidential settlements and depositions are likely to begin towards the end of 2023. Specifically, Dodson played a key role in one of the lawsuits against the demolition contractor, having drafted the opposition to a motion to dismiss that garnered an opinion from the court. E. Blair Schilling focuses on handling environmental litigation, primarily representing clients in lawsuits against oil and gas companies that are violating regulations. She is a lead lawyer representing Louisiana Wetlands in its lawsuit against a company operating oil and gas drilling on their property. The client alleges that the defendants violated their duty to act responsibly under contracts and Louisiana law. The case is ongoing, and Schilling, on behalf of the clients, has requested the court require the oil and gas companies to restore the property to its original condition. Commercial litigator with a concentration on international arbitrations, Mary Wells maintains a diverse practice representing plaintiffs and defendants. In a case arising from the Stanford International Bank certificate of deposit Ponzi scheme, she represents the plaintiffs, the Official Stanford Investors Committee and six individual Stanford Investors, against five banks that provided related banking services. The plaintiffs allege claims of breach of fiduciary duty and violations of the Texas Securities Act. To date, Wells has obtained settlements with all the banks earlier this year, which have yet to be approved.
The 40 & Under List has consistently recognized Jason McManis of the Texan litigation firm AZA Law. McManis heads the firm’s intellectual property group where he routinely litigates patent and trade secrets disputes on both sides of the v. In a recently concluded trade secrets case that took place in Fort Bend County, he obtained a unanimous jury verdict which found that a former employee of client, DistributionNOW, conspired with others to steal trade secrets and breached his fiduciary duty. Furthermore, the trial resulted in an almost $9 million verdict for the client, including attorney fees and punitive damages. The successful result also included the jury’s finding that other former DNOW employees conspired willfully and maliciously, leading to punitive damages against the other defendants individually.
Two new additions from the Texan litigation boutique Hicks Thomas make their debut on the 40 & Under list this year. Kasi Chadwick is a Houston litigator whose diverse practice involves cases from employment to commercial. She is currently handling two separate trade secrets cases. In one action, she represents New York Stock Exchange-listed company Trinseo against KBR, also listed on the NYSE and represented by a nationally ranked law firm. The client alleges that former employees misappropriated trade secrets, and the nature of the case involves chemistry and engineering issues related to polycarbonates. Chadwick is currently involved in discovery. In a separate action, she and the firm’s name partner represent Stress Engineering Services in its lawsuit against a former employee and a competitor, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and trade secrets misappropriation after the employee provided his expertise in high temperature hydrogen attack mechanisms to the client’s competitor. The case is pending in federal court and trial is expected to commence this year. A fellow member of the Houston office, Colin Watterson focuses his practice on resolving clients’ complex business disputes. Watterson represented West Houston Fluid System Technologies before the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in a lawsuit filed under the Texas Fair Practices of Equipment Manufacturers, Distributors, Wholesalers, and Dealers Act against Swagelok in connection to the company’s notice claiming to terminate the distribution agreement with the client. Watterson and the team were successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order to stop the termination and the case settled in arbitration. Watterson is also involved in an ongoing matter, serving as counsel on the environmental and toxic tort disputes on behalf of R.R. Street & Co, designer and developer of cleaning processes. Along with the firm’s name partner, Watterson also defends the client in actions currently pending in California state and federal courts.
Hunton Andrews Kurth
The Houston office of Hunton Andrews Kurth features one of the firm’s several 40 & Under stars. Joe Buoni maintains a practice combining his commercial and bankruptcy litigation experience, allowing him to handle a wide range of cases for clients in the energy and financial sectors. His latest casework includes defending PPL Corporation, as well as certain affiliates, in a fraudulent transfer lawsuit in the adversary proceeding related to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Talen Energy Supply. He works alongside and against other nationally ranked firms and lawyers on the case.
McKool Smith has a group of Texas rising stars who have made their debut on the 40 & Under List this year. Nicholas Mathews is an up-and-coming IP litigator taking the lead on cases for international companies. Mathews, along with Kevin Hess, are counsel to Ericsson in two different patent disputes. He defended the client against a lawsuit brought by IP Bridge in connection with seven patents related to mobile communications and multicarrier communications. The case was settled before trial. In another ongoing case, they defend Ericsson against the University of Minnesota. The university alleges the infringement of five patents related to 4G and 5G base stations. The case is scheduled to go to trial. Hess is an Austin-based IP litigator who specializes in cases involving standard essential patents. Houston’s Kristin Leveille Rodriguez has an eclectic practice that ranges from qui tam to commercial and bankruptcy-related litigation. Recently, she has also represented whistleblowers who filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies alleging violations of the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act for engaging in unlawful marketing schemes and practices. Leveille Rodgriguez is involved against several multinational pharmaceutical giants, including Bayer, Gilead and Eli Lilly, which are stayed, and Shire Pharmaceuticals, which has a tentative settlement. In Dallas, Travis DeArman splits his practice between commercial and IP litigation. He has represented plaintiffs and defendants alike, but recently has taken on the role of plaintiff in several cases. DeArman represents grandchildren of Dolph Briscoe II, the former governor of Texas, in a lawsuit related to their aunt Janey Briscoe Marmion’s will. The Carpenter’s grandchildren were cut out of her will, and they allege that their uncle exerted undue influence to convince their aunt to do so. In addition, they allege breach of fiduciary duty claims against the family’s attorney, James Curphy. In a recently closed case, DeArman obtained a settlement on behalf of prospective class representatives in a dispute for which they allege breach of contract, tortious interference, and breach of fiduciary duty claims against USPI and its parent company, as well as Tenent Healthcare and its CEO, CFO and COO. The dispute arises from the alleged defendants intentionally devaluing stock options and shares and, in turn, terminating the employee stock incentive plan.
Reid Collins & Tsai
The Texas-based plaintiffs’ law firm Reid Collins & Tsai has established a rising class of trial lawyers. One of the firm’s bankruptcy and commercial litigation specialists is Keith Cohan who handles cases in both practice areas, particularly when they overlap. Cohan and fellow commercial litigator, Ryan Goldstein, investigated and pursued litigation against the former directors, officers, and professionals of Insys Therapeutics, including an investigation into a highly regarded law firm. The matter stems from the company executives’ actions that resulted in numerous criminal proceedings, civil lawsuits, and class actions. The company’s successor, Insys Liquidation Trust, tapped the team to handle the investigation and subsequent lawsuits. Cohan and Goldstein were successful in obtaining confidential settlements with the defendants. Cohan has also been first-chair in a pro bono case with Goldstein as second-chair. They have partnered with the ACLU of Louisiana to represent plaintiff Teliah Perkins in a challenge to racially discriminatory policing practices. Cohan and Goldstein obtained a significant ruling that denied most of the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, deciding that they are not entitled to qualified immunity on two of the plaintiff’s claims, and that key facts and testimony show multiple violations and established constitutional rights. The defendants have appealed the decision. Scott Saldaña represents plaintiffs in lawsuits involving financial fraud and commercial claims, or in disputes across the border. In a fraud-related bankruptcy case, Saldaña brought a lawsuit on behalf of Claymore Holdings against Credit Suisse, arising from a fraudulent appraisal that greatly overvalued a development project in Las Vegas. The long-running case has been up to the Texas Supreme Court, and most recently, the Dallas Court of Appeals, which affirmed the fraud judgment from an earlier jury verdict. The case remains ongoing on other issues.
Boies Schiller Flexner
The Fort Lauderdale office of Boies Schiller Flexner houses a rising star in appellate litigation. Pascual Oliu has handled a variety of cases before several US courts of appeals. He represented NextEra at the Fifth Circuit in a lawsuit challenging a Texas law that would give utilities and other transmission owners the right to build new transmission lines. The panel ruled in favor of the client, asserting that the right of first refusal to build new lines would discriminate against interstate commerce. While the state petitioned the Supreme Court for review, the Court requested the Solicitor General’s opinion on the matter. Oliu was also co-lead counsel defending Carnival in a lawsuit filed under the Helms-Burton Act. He successfully obtained a judgment on the pleadings at district court, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the ruling.
Sanford Heisler Sharp
Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Nashville outfit features up-and-coming plaintiffs’ litigator Jonathan Tepe. Although based in the Tennessee city, Tepe practices well beyond the boundaries of the state. He is among the team members representing municipalities across the US in opioid related litigation, alleging that manufacturers are liable for the public nuisance arising from the over-prescription and proliferation of opioids. In the labor and employment space, Tepe represented three plaintiffs against Palomar Health in California. The lawsuit alleged numerous claims and compliance issues, including wrongful termination, corruption and misconduct that jeopardized safety and care. Tepe reached a confidential settlement agreement on behalf of the plaintiffs and in doing so, addressed concerns raised by employees and created proactive steps to address the issues.