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Rising Stars

Suzanna Bonham and Kelli Gunter were named 2012 Texas Rising Stars in the most recent edition of Super Lawyers. Suzanna Bonham was selected for her expertise in business litigation and Kelli Gunter was selected for her expertise in insurance coverage. Super Lawyers is a rating service which recognizes outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The magazine, which includes the profiles of selected attorneys, is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.


Summary Judgment in Trade Secret Case 

In a trade secret, covenant not to compete and tortious interference dispute in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking $28 million in damages from the firm's client, the firm obtained a partial summary judgment that certain features of the product were not secret. The client is represented by Roger Greenberg, Jason Sharp and Christina Vines.


Summary Judgment in oil and gas case.

Ed Junell and Kyle Weynand recently obtained a summary judgment on all claims in an oil and gas dispute from Judge Karen K. Brown of the United State Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff asserted claims against defendants, our clients, for fraud, promissory estoppel, and negligent misrepresentation related to the drilling and alleged investment in an oil and gas prospect. Plaintiff sought more than $5.8 million dollars in damages.


Favorable settlement in early mediation

Monica Oathout, David Finck, and Michael Jones obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of SJGO's client, the plaintiff in a construction case. In the fiercely contested dispute, SJGO's client sought damages arising from a $32 million dollar construction contract involving thousands of change orders, spanning several markets and several years. After over one year of venue disputes, the lawsuit was transferred to Texas and SJGO substituted in as counsel. SJGO hit the ground running, culled through hundreds of thousands of documents and put together a strategy to substantiate each change order. Then, prior to depositions, SJGO proposed mediation. At mediation, SJGO used the change order analysis (done without the assistance of experts) to present a solid and compelling case demonstrating why SJGO's client was owed a substantial sum of money and would prevail at trial. After a mediation lasting almost 12 hours, the case settled very favorably for SJGO's client.


Insurance coverage obtained after denial

David Finck and Kelli Gunter successfully obtained coverage for the firm's client after the insurer denied coverage. After the firm filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment addressing the duty to defend issue, the insurer agreed to fund the entire settlement with the plaintiff in the underlying claim


Environmental Contamination

David Finck and Jim Marrow successfully defended the firm's client, an oilfield services company, from claims brought by a real-estate developer, who alleged environmental contamination of his property. SJGO filed a motion for summary judgment asserting the property was not contaminated, the developer lacked standing to sue and the developer's claims were time-barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff dismissed all claims against the client, without any payment by the company.


Sexual Harassment/Retaliatory Discharge Claim

SJGO defended its client against a former employee who alleged sexual harassment and retaliatory discharge. The plaintiff alleged she had complained about inappropriate remarks made to her in the workplace, was terminated shortly thereafter, and she had medical problems resulting from the stress related to the alleged harassment and discharge. After obtaining and reviewing extensive medical records and email correspondence, we were able to make the case that the medical issues pre-dated the alleged harassment and the plaintiff was not likely to have been offended by the alleged harassing statement. The case settled on favorable terms for the client, who was represented by David E. Finck and James C. Marrow.


Zach Wolfe served as a panel member and moderator presenting the program, "Key Supreme Court Decisions Affecting Securities Law" at the U.T. 34th Annual Securities Regulation and Business Law Conference held at the Belo Mansion, Dallas, Texas on February 9-10, 2012. Roger Greenberg is a member of the Planning Committee for this annual CLE event.  


Dick Schwartz spoke at the Houston Bar Association Mentor Protégé Breakfast on February 22, at the Harris County Courthouse. Dick, Jennifer Hasley and Jill Yaziji made an ethics presentation about Money Issues in the Practice of Law, with an emphasis on ethical issues in Engagement Letters, Trust Accounts, and Financing Contingency Cases.


Dick Schwartz, Suzanna Bonham, Parker Fauntleroy, Kenneth George, Roger Greenberg, Ed Junell and Monica Oathout have been selected as Texas' Top Rated Lawyers receiving an AV Preeminent rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review ratings. An AV Preeminent rating is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence. In recognition of this honor these SJGO attorneys will be featured in Texas' Top Rated Lawyers, a special stand alone magazine that will be distributed in the Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and The Wall Street Journal on March 30th. It will also be distributed with The Texas Lawyer, The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel magazine.


SJGO Lawyers Receive Peer Recognition

Dick Schwartz, Ed Junell and Roger Greenberg were recently recognized in the Super Lawyers - Business Edition 2011. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The new Business Edition features those attorneys who were previously selected in 2010 to the Super Lawyers list in specific business practice areas and is distributed to in-house counsel, and CEOs and presidents of Fortune 500 companies. Dick and Ed were selected in Business Litigation while Roger was selected in Securities Litigation.

Dick and Ed were also included in the 2011 Best Lawyers, Houston Edition, in a special supplement to the National Law Journal and The American Lawyer. Both were selected for Commercial Litigation and Dick was also selected for Alternative Dispute Resolution.


The Firm Welcomes New Associates and Of Counsel

SJGO welcomes new associates, Kristie Widner, Zach Bowman, Eric Hawley, Kelli Gunter, Christina Vines, Mark Merrell, and Of Counsel, Shawn Bates. Before Kristie Widner joined SJGO, she successfully represented clients in a wide variety of civil matters including complex commercial litigation and arbitration, insurance coverage, and personal injury and premises liability.

Zach Bowman and Eric Hawley are both recent law school graduates. Zach attended South Texas College of Law where he graduated Cum Laude. While at South Texas, he was a Varsity Moot Court Advocate and won both a National Championship and a best advocate award. Additionally, he was a member of law review and was selected to the Order of the Barristers and Order of Lytae. Before joining the firm, Zach served as a law clerk to the Honorable Paul W. Green at the Supreme Court of Texas. Eric graduated from University of Texas School of Law. While at University of Texas, Eric was the Recent Developments Associate Editor of the Texas Journal of Oil, Gas & Energy Law and interned for the Honorable Evelyn Keyes, First Court of Appeals, Houston, Texas.

Kelli Gunter and Christina Vines both bring extensive and varied experience to the firm. Kelli primarily handled cases involving insurance coverage defense and first party litigation and Christina worked for the Division of the Special Prosecution Unit for the State of Texas where she successfully tried multiple civil jury trials to verdict. In law school, Christina competed on behalf of South Texas College of Law in National Moot Court and Mock Trial competitions.

Prior to joining SJGO Mark Merrell's practice focused primarily on the representation of governmental entities and landowners in condemnation litigation. In addition to his eminent domain practice, Mark has significant experience in many other types of litigation, including real estate title disputes and landlord-tenant disputes.

Shawn Bates has first chaired numerous cases to verdict in jury trial, bench trial and arbitration settings and holds a Certificate in Advanced Arbitration Skills from the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center of the University of Houston Law Center. He has been involved in numerous complex commercial disputes and has been named a Texas Rising Star by Texas Monthly Magazine and one of Houston's Top Lawyers by H Texas Magazine.

Schwartz, Junell, Greenberg & Oathout, LLP
Two Houston Center
909 Fannin Street, Suite 2700
Houston, Texas 77010

713-752-0017 Telephone
877-752-2477 Toll Free
713-752-0327 Fax

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