The Tattler

We know what you don't know about the goings on with Texan lawyers

Published in 2007 Texas Super Lawyers Magazine — October 2007

Michael McConnell, Kelly Hart & Hallman, Fort Worth, recently attended the Annual Opening of Law Courts in England and Wales, and dined at Middle Temple, where Queen Elizabeth I dined regularly. His favorite course was the dessert, an apple and calvados syllabub. 

Texans can thank Linda Addison, Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston, for being able to shop on Sundays, because of her role in overturning the Texas Blue Law. Though she hopes it won’t be remembered on her tombstone, she says people remember the case because of the fast-paced lifestyles we lead today. 

An Inuit tribe that lost its home to global warming recently sought counsel from Stephen Susman, Susman Godfrey, Houston, an unofficial guru of climate change litigation. Using the same strategy as the tobacco cases, he sees a possible role for trial lawyers to seek redress for the public harm caused by global warming. 

Marie Yeates, Vinson & Elkins, Houston, was recently interviewed by Sky Radio as part of its “America’s Most Influential Women” series. The most influential woman in her life is her mother, who raised six daughters to become a doctor, a government official, a dentist, a lawyer, a civil engineer and a chemical engineer. 

With nearly 12 years of service on the board of the Dallas Museum of Art, Kim Askew, Hughes & Luce, heralds Picasso’s “Bottle of Port and Glass” as her favorite museum piece, albeit by a narrow margin. She also enjoys many pieces in the African collection. 

A co-author of Protecting Your Assets From a Texas Divorce, Kathryn Murphy, Koons, Fuller, Vanden Eykel & Robertson, Dallas, surprises many potential divorcés by telling them why they should stay married. “People have to consider if divorce is something they really want,” she says. 

Wayne Fisher, Fisher, Boyd, Brown, Boudreaux & Huguenard, Houston, a childhood friend of Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, settled a life insurance benefit payout case for the team. He has witnessed many of the team’s historic moments, including baseball’s first indoor home run, hit by Mickey Mantle in the Astrodome.  

Frank Branson, the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, Dallas, recently won a landmark negligence verdict against Mitsubishi Motors, where its Montero Sport SUV was deemed unreasonably dangerous. He drives a Volvo XC90 and advises consumers who want an SUV to buy one that ranks four stars or better on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s five-star rollover resistance rating system.

Samuel Baxter, McKool Smith, Dallas, won a $74 million patent infringement verdict for TiVo Inc. in a recording technology dispute. What’s on his TiVo? Dallas Cowboys games, CNN News and the latest movie offerings on HBO. 

As a co-author of “Instant Message, Instant Email, Instantly Gone? The Role of Technology in Infidelity and Divorce” (Fort Worth Business Press), Mary Jo McCurley, McCurley, Orsinger, McCurley, Nelson & Downing, Dallas, says, “Incriminating e-mails have taken the ‘he said/she said’ out of many divorce disputes. While you may have hit the delete button, e-mail messages live on in hard drives, PDAs and network servers.” 

Lisa Pennington, Baker Hostetler, Houston, has had a lot of satisfying wins in her career. But one of the most satisfying was a drawn-out employment case she defended in federal court for a company and three individuals. After all charges were dismissed, one of the individuals started dancing a Scottish jig in the hallway of the courthouse. 

George Bramblett Jr., Haynes and Boone, Dallas, was an inexperienced school finance attorney when four property-rich school districts sought help with a critical property tax crisis. Of the ruling in the districts last year, he says, “Texans and their 4.3 million students deserve school systems with the financial capacity to hire quality teachers and provide top-notch programming. If that was too much to ask of Austin, then thank goodness we have a court system willing to listen to reason.” 

Bill Brewer, Bickel & Brewer, Dallas, helped create the Future Leaders Program, a cutting-edge academic and leadership development program for students in the Dallas Independent School District, which recently earned special recognition from the State Board of Education and Texas Governor’s Office. “These students are the future of our community,” says Brewer. “They are an inspiration to me, and I am committed to their ultimate success.”

In 1998, Richard Mithoff, Mithoff Law Firm, Houston, requested that $10 million from his fee earned in the Harris County tobacco litigation be retained by the county to fund children’s health programs. That money is still funding the programs at the Harris County Hospital Foundation from a permanent endowment, and Mithoff is undertaking a new campaign—to raise a matching amount.

For Angeline Bain, Goranson, Bain, Larsen & Greenwald, Dallas, protecting children’s interests heavily motivates her work. Sometimes, though, even her victories are sad, such as when she succeeded in terminating the parental rights of the adults who threw their six-week-old baby from a three-story balcony.

Russell Budd, Baron & Budd, Dallas, was part of the negotiation team that secured a $3.9 billion settlement with United States Gypsum Co. on behalf of asbestos victims, marking one of the largest bankruptcy settlements in the history of U.S. asbestos litigation. At home, his volunteer work and philanthropy are focused in once-blighted west Dallas neighborhoods where Baron & Budd first represented destitute families hurt by contamination from a nearby lead smelter.

Jay Madrid, Winstead, Dallas, represented 21 defendants in the first-ever criminal prosecution under the Ocean Dumping Act, where guilty verdicts could have meant fines of more than $600 million. “This was an important case because it influenced the government’s approach to these technical violations of environmental criminal statutes and expanded the government’s use of mediation as an alternative to or an aid in prosecution,” Madrid says.  

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