Our News

MH Wins Solar Energy Arbitration

Houston, TX (November 15, 2019)

McDowell Hetherington obtained a complete victory for its client, a leading solar energy company, following an arbitration hearing in Houston against a subcontractor. The case centered on contracts for dozens of solar energy systems installed in four states. MH’s client sought nearly $500,000 for systems that were cancelled or improperly installed. It was awarded 100% of its actual damages, along with its attorney’s fees and arbitration costs. MH lawyers Matt Matthews and Diane Wizig arbitrated the case.

Matthews Again Named Texas Super Lawyer

New York (September 3, 2019)

Thomson Reuters has recognized MH partner Matt Matthews as a Texas Super Lawyer in the category of business litigation for the third year in a row. Matt’s practice, however, extends well beyond Texas. His experience litigating complex business disputes spans the country. In the last six months alone he has won a jury trial in Houston and appeals before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second and Seventh Circuits. He is licensed in Texas, New York, and numerous federal courts.

Thomson Reuters recognizes outstanding attorneys in more than 70 areas of practice using a rigorous, multiphase selection process that includes peer nominations, evaluation of attorneys based on 12 separate indicators of professional achievement and peer recognition, peer evaluation by other lawyers within one’s practice area and a final discipline check to verify that the attorney meets the highest ethical standards. Each year, only five percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

MH Secures Dismissal of $1.4 million Preference Lawsuit in First Choice ER Bankruptcy

The liquidating trustee for Adeptus Health (First Choice ER) voluntarily dismissed a $1.4 million preference and fraudulent transfer lawsuit against a trade creditor represented by MH. At the time Adeptus Health and its affiliates filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it was the largest operator of free-standing emergency rooms in the United States. When Adeptus Health confirmed its plan of reorganization, it assumed the trade creditor’s contract. Upon discovering this fact, MH filed a motion to stay all discovery to allow the trade creditor to file a motion for summary judgment, as the assumption of the contract acted as a total defense to the liquidating trustee’s lawsuit. Faced with this motion, the liquidating trustee dismissed the lawsuit rather than continue litigation.

MH lawyer Jarrod Martin represented the trade creditor in the adversary proceeding.

Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Energy Class Action

Chicago, IL (July 26, 2019)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a unanimous opinion affirming dismissal of a class action brought against MH client Direct Energy on behalf of its Illinois variable-rate electricity customers. The Seventh Circuit agreed with the District Court that the plaintiff failed to plead any facts suggesting that Direct Energy’s rates were too high or were not based on others available in the competitive market—despite the plaintiff being given three opportunities to draft his complaint.

This case is one in a series of class actions filed against competitive suppliers like Direct Energy that challenge the companies’ pricing practices with no factual support. MH has been at the forefront of defending against those claims. Its win in the Seventh Circuit builds on its earlier victory in the Second Circuit. The Seventh Circuit is now the second federal appeals court to affirm Direct Energy’s variable-rate pricing practices and to reject misguided attempts to reregulate energy markets through the courts.

The Seventh Circuit’s opinion is available here.

MH lawyers Matt Matthews and Diane Wizig represented Direct Energy in the District Court and were assisted by Jay Chambers in the appeal.

MH Secures Unanimous Arbitration Win for Client

Houston, TX (June 25, 2019)

McDowell Hetherington recently obtained total victory for its client, a leading life-insurance company, in a unanimous arbitration award. An insurance broker sued the life insurer alleging that the insurer conveyed to him inaccurate tax advice about a customer’s annuity, which he then relayed to his client. Claimant also asserted that the life insurer improperly disclosed information regarding the customer to another producer, who used that information to “steal” the customer from the producer. The Claimant sought $1.5 million in actual damages, as well as punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. After a multi-day evidentiary hearing, a panel of three distinguished Houston attorneys, including a former judge, rejected Claimant’s allegations in their entirety.  In vindicating the life insurer, the Panel found that McDowell Hetherington’s client had correctly communicated the tax issues to the producer on multiple occasions and that it had not disclosed confidential or sensitive information regarding the client to any third party. The panel awarded MH’s life-insurance client over $42,000 in arbitration costs.

David McDowell arbitrated the case with the help of lawyers Avi Moshenberg and Emil Sadykhov and paralegal Kate Taylor.

MH Wins Jury Trial in Houston

Houston,  TX (May 22, 2019)

Last month, MH secured a complete defense verdict for an energy company and one of its former employees after a seven-day jury trial. The former employee was accused of assaulting a contractor during a termination and then destroying various personal items allegedly stolen from the contractor, including a book manuscript. The case, which was first filed in 2014, involved formal claims of assault, conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference, invasion of privacy, and claims under the Texas Theft Liability Act. The plaintiff asked the jury to award $8 million for his alleged injuries. MH’s clients consistently maintained that the case was meritless, and a twelve-member Harris County jury agreed.

After closing arguments on May 21, 2019, the jury returned a complete defense verdict in favor of MH’s clients on every claim, deliberating for less than three hours. Following the trial, the jurors who spoke with counsel complimented MH’s case organization, preparedness, and effectiveness in the courtroom.

MH attorneys Matt Matthews and Bobby Debelak tried the case.

MH Brokers $7.5M Credit Sale of Renewable Energy Credits

Wilmington, DE (April 30, 2019)

McDowell Hetherington LLP assisted their client in the purchase of 76,000 renewable energy credits and related contracts for $7.5M. MH, through Jarrod Martin and Benjamin Ritz, originally defended Skyview Finance Company LLC’s forward contractual rights in Great Eastern Energy’s Delaware bankruptcy case. Skyview invests in renewable energy markets, and Great Eastern is a regional energy supplier. As a result of regional restrictions, Great Eastern had to sell off many of its credits quickly to maximize its investment to the bankruptcy estate. Skyview and MH saw an opportunity. While maintaining Skyview’s contractual rights, MH pivoted to assist Skyview in structuring a winning bid and a profit-sharing contract on future contract recovery. A Delaware judge signed off on the sale on Tuesday, April 30.

MH Lawyers Named 2019 Rising Stars

Houston, TX. (March 20, 2019)

McDowell Hetherington LLP is proud to announce that five of its lawyers – Kate Easterling, Micah Grodin, Jarrod Martin, Avi Moshenberg, and Will Thomas — have been named to the 2019 Texas Rising Stars list.

The annual list of Texas’ top up-and-coming lawyers is based on a statewide poll of attorneys that measures peer recognition and professional achievement. Nominees must be age 40 or younger or have been in practice for fewer than 10 years. Only 2.5 percent of Texas attorneys are included in the list, which appears in the April 2019 editions of Texas Monthly and Texas Rising Stars magazines.

Kate Easterling, a senior attorney at the firm, was named a “Rising Star” in business litigation for the eighth time. Ms. Easterling handles commercial disputes, energy litigation, tort claims, and personal injury claims.

Micah Grodin, an associate in the Houston office, was recognized as a “Rising Star” in business litigation. Mr. Grodin represents clients in state and federal courts, arbitration proceedings, and administrative law hearings across the country.

Jarrod Martin, a senior attorney in the firm’s Houston office, was recognized as a “Rising Star” for his expertise in bankruptcy law. Mr. Martin handles a variety of commercial litigation matters in addition to his bankruptcy and restructuring work.

Avi Moshenberg, a senior attorney in the Houston office, was named a “Rising Star” in general litigation – a designation that reflects the breadth of his practice. Mr. Moshenberg prosecutes and defends cases involving complex business disputes, personal injury, and labor and employment matters.

Will Thomas, an associate in the Houston office, was recognized as a “Rising Star” in business litigation for the third year in a row. Mr. Thomas’s practice includes complex cases involving energy, construction, consumer protection, and white-collar issues across the country.

Second Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Energy Class Action

New York (February 4, 2019)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion affirming the summary judgment dismissal of a class action alleging that MH’s client, Direct Energy, overcharged variable-rate electricity customers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Though this lawsuit is one of many similar cases filed against retail energy suppliers in recent years, this decision is the first time a federal circuit court has opined on the merits of claims brought against retail energy suppliers in a published opinion.

The Second Circuit’s decision is a victory for Direct Energy, but also has broad implications for class actions brought against competitive energy retailers across the country. In particular, the opinion found that “[Q]uotidian pricing practices like Direct Energy’s . . . have long been mainstream across numerous sectors of American commerce.” And the Second Circuit declined the plaintiff’s invitation to impose restrictions on that deregulated market through novel legal theories, holding instead that “Connecticut chose to deregulate consumer electricity ratemaking, not transfer that authority from a public utility commission to the after-the-fact judgments of courts. . .” (emphasis in original).

The Second Circuit’s majority opinion is available here.

MH lawyers Matt Matthews, Bobby Debelak, Hutson Smelley, and Jay Chambers represented Direct Energy in the District Court and on appeal.

Matthews Named Texas Super Lawyer

Houston, TX. (September 6, 2018)

MH partner Matt Matthews has been recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as a Texas Super Lawyer in the category of business litigation. This is the second consecutive year he has received this honor. Matt has experience prosecuting and defending cases involving energy, commercial contracts, construction, manufacturing, financial services, property rights, international trade, personal injury, products liability, employment law, and other complex business disputes across the country. He is licensed in Texas and New York.

Texas Monthly recognizes outstanding attorneys in more than 70 areas of practice using a rigorous, multiphase selection process that includes peer nominations, evaluation of attorneys based on 12 separate indicators of professional achievement and peer recognition, peer evaluation by other lawyers within one’s practice area and a final discipline check to verify that the attorney meets the highest ethical standards. Each year, only five percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

McDowell Hetherington LLP Achieves HITRUST CSF® Certification to Further Mitigate Risk in Third Party Privacy, Security and, Compliance

Houston, TX. (April 25, 2018)

National trial law firm McDowell Hetherington LLP today announced their Worldox application & servers, Equitrac print tracking system, Juris SQL servers and their supporting infrastructure have earned Certified status for information security by HITRUST.

HITRUST CSF Certified status demonstrates that the above-referenced servers, and systems have met key regulations and industry-defined requirements and are appropriately managing risk. This achievement places McDowell Hetherington in an elite group of organizations worldwide that have earned this certification. By including federal and state regulations, standards, and frameworks and incorporating a risk-based approach, the HITRUST CSF helps organizations address these challenges through a comprehensive and flexible framework of prescriptive and scalable security controls.

“Law firms are under great pressure to meet complex compliance requirements that include technical and process elements such as HIPAA, NIST, ISO and COBIT,” said David McDowell, Managing Partner at McDowell Hetherington LLP. “The HITRUST CSF is the gold-standard of network and data security, and McDowell Hetherington is pleased to demonstrate its commitment to protecting client information by achieving HITRUST CSF Certification.”

“HITRUST has been working with the industry to ensure the appropriate information protection requirements are met when sensitive information is accessed or stored in a cloud environment. By taking the steps necessary to obtain HITRUST CSF Certified status, McDowell Hetherington is distinguished as an organization on which clients can depend to keep their information safe,” said Ken Vander Wal, Chief Compliance Officer, HITRUST.

McDowell Hetherington LLP Announces Name Change

Houston, TX. (February 22, 2018)

McDowell Hetherington LLP congratulates founding partner Andrew M. Edison on his appointment as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The appointment, which is effective immediately, recognizes Andrew’s twenty-four years as a smart, tough, and fair advocate for his clients.  He will bring that same energy, intelligence, and dedication to the federal bench as a public servant.

Partner Tom Hetherington said, “I am thrilled for Andy. Having practiced law with him for almost 20 years, we have fought many battles together for our clients. While I will miss working with my friend, I know that he will serve the Southern District of Texas well as a magistrate judge.”

The firm is also excited to announce that it will now be known as McDowell Hetherington LLP. “We look forward to carrying on the firm’s tradition of zealously representing our clients’ interests in courtrooms from coast to coast,” said partner David McDowell.

Chambers USA Recognizes MH Partner Jodi Swick

Houston, TX. (September 18, 2017)

MH is pleased to announce that firm partner Jodi Swick has been recognized by Chambers USA as a leaders in specific practice areas.

Ms. Swick is a Recognised Practitioner in the category of California, Insurance, Insurer.

Chambers USA ranks the leading firms and lawyers in an extensive range of practice areas throughout America. The rankings are based on client and peer reviews interviews, and research. The guide is widely referred to by industry-leading companies, organizations, and law firms.

MH Lawyer Named Texas Super Lawyer

Houston, TX. (September 18, 2017)

MH partner Matt Matthews has been recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as a Texas Super Lawyer in the category of business litigation.

Texas Monthly recognizes outstanding attorneys in more than 70 areas of practice using a rigorous, multiphase selection process that includes peer nominations, evaluation of attorneys based on 12 separate indicators of professional achievement and peer recognition, peer evaluation by other lawyers within one’s practice area and a final discipline check to verify that the attorney meets the highest ethical standards. Each year, only five percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

MH Wins Software Arbitration

Houston, TX. (July 24, 2017)

MH has successfully represented a major international software provider in an arbitration proceeding questioning the feasibility of the company’s health care computer software.

MH’s client received an arbitration demand late last year from a disgruntled customer, who alleged that MH’s client failed to provide contractually-mandated services/software and fraudulently induced the customer to enter into a contract.  MH’s client filed a counterclaim in the arbitration proceeding, seeking to recover unpaid invoices.

After hearing testimony from 10 witnesses in June 2017, the arbitrator issued an opinion completely vindicating MH’s client of wrongdoing.  The arbitrator also held that MH’s client prevailed on its breach of contract claim, recovering monies due and owing under the contract.

MH Secures Pro Bono Victory

Houston, TX. (July 23, 2017)

After six years of hard work, MH attorney Andrew Kasner, with the assistance of Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Kids in Need of Defense, has successfully adjudicated a pro bono immigration matter in his client’s favor resulting in the client’s receipt of permanent residence status.

The client, a minor child, had come to the United States seeking refuge and an opportunity for a better life. After the client was detained by United States authorities and placed into deportation proceedings, MH represented the client and sought a stay of deportation. Ultimately, after petitioning state courts, immigration courts, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, MH obtained “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” for its client. By obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, MH’s client is now a permanent resident of the United States, is no longer the subject of deportation proceedings, and will eventually be able to apply for United States citizenship.

MH is fully committed to partnering with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Kids in Need of Defense, and other local charitable organizations in providing pro bono assistance to those that require, but otherwise do not have access to, adequate legal representation.

MH 2017 Texas Rising Stars

Houston, TX. (March 16, 2017)

McDowell Hetherington LLP is proud to announce that three of its lawyers – Kate Easterling, Blaire Bruns Johnson and William Thomas — have been named to the 2017 Texas Rising Stars list.

The annual list of Texas’ top up-and-coming lawyers is based on a statewide poll of attorneys. Nominees must be age 40 or younger or have been in practice for fewer than 10 years. Only 2.5 percent of Texas attorneys are included in the list, which appears in the April 2017 editions of Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers Magazine.

Ms. Easterling, a senior attorney in the Houston office, was recognized as a “Rising Star” in business litigation — making her a six-time Texas Super Lawyer Rising Star. Ms. Easterling handles commercial disputes, energy litigation, tort claims, and personal injury claims across the country.

Ms. Johnson, a partner in the Houston office, has achieved great results for the firm’s clients in an array of civil litigation, including financial services litigation; life, health and disability insurance litigation; employment-related litigation; oil-and-gas industry litigation; and stop-loss insurance litigation. Particularly, Ms. Johnson has a growing practice in ERISA disputes both in Texas and across the country. This is Ms. Johnson’s third time to be recognized as a “Rising Star” in insurance coverage.

Mr. Thomas is an associate in the Houston office. His complex and national litigation practice involves disputes related to energy, construction, commercial contracts, insurance, and consumer protection statutes. He was recognized as a “Rising Star” for his litigation work in energy.

MH Successfully Preserves Causes of Action Against Bankrupt Oil Service Company’s Executives

2017

MH attorney Kate Easterling represented Lendteq, LLC in successfully contesting the bankruptcy sale of Diverse Energy Systems, LLC (“DES”) and certain of its affiliates to Cimarron Acquisition Co.

Based on arguments made by MH, Bankruptcy Judge David R. Jones entered an order conditioning the 363 sale on the preservation of causes of action held by Lendteq and the bankruptcy estate against executives of DES. A copy of the order can be accessed here.

McDowell Hetherington LLP announces new Florida location

Houston, TX. (December 1, 2016)

National trial law firm McDowell Hetherington LLP (“MH”) announced the opening of its South Florida office today. MH now has offices from coast to coast—in Texas, California and Florida.

Kristina “Tina” B. Pett and Wendy L. Furman, formerly of Pett Furman, PL in Boca Raton, are joining the firm as partners to launch the Florida office.

David McDowell, MH’s managing partner, says, “We are thrilled to join forces with Tina and Wendy. We have worked with both for many years and have tremendous respect for them as lawyers and as people. Our clients requested that we have a physical presence in Florida, and we are excited to address that request with the caliber of lawyers found at Pett Furman.”

“We are responding to client demand. MH is committed to providing outstanding legal work at competitive rates across the country. With offices in Texas and California, expansion to Florida is the logical next step,” says MH founding partner Tom Hetherington.

MH is a 43-lawyer trial firm that has handled complex commercial litigation in almost every state since the firm was founded in 2009.

Tina Pett and Wendy Furman, who have extensive experience in commercial and financial services litigation, say they are pleased to join a firm with a national reach.

“We now have a nationwide presence and MH’s footprint will allow us to further serve our clients,” says Tina Pett.

Wendy Furman agrees, “Our clients know MH and are pleased that we now have a platform that spans the country.”

The MH Florida office is located at 2101 N.W. Corporate Boulevard, Suite 316, Boca Raton, FL 33431.

MH Prevails in Broker/Dealer Case

Houston, TX. (September 6, 2016)

MH attorneys Jason Richardson and Kate Easterling obtained post-verdict judgment as a matter of law in favor of securities broker/dealer on claims of fraud involving the sale of variable annuities to early retirees.

After a week-long jury trial and various post-verdict motions, United States District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal granted the broker/dealer’s motion to set aside the verdict based on clear evidence demonstrating that the plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred.  All claims were dismissed with prejudice as a result. Judge Rosenthal’s opinion can be found here.

The case was originally brought in FINRA arbitration proceedings, but dismissed as ineligible after the arbitrators determined that the claims were time-barred.  At the trial court level, Judge Rosenthal made several favorable ruling establishing precedent that (1) there is no private right of action for violation of FINRA rules; (2) a customer lacks standing as a third party beneficiary to enforce a member firm’s agreement with FINRA; (3) a branch office manager or supervisor cannot be personally liable to customers for actions taken in the course and scope of his employment absent an independent legal duty to the customers; (4) variable annuities are not “securities” under Texas law; (5) absent discretionary trading authority, broker/dealers and associated persons do not owe fiduciary duties to customers; and (6) an investor is on inquiry notice of her claims, as a matter of law, when she receives account statements that contain information that conflicts with misrepresentations made to her at the time of purchase.

The case was styled Cause No. H-14-888; Gallier v. Woodbury Financial Services; In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas – Houston Division.

MH Prevails in 49ers Coverage Dispute

2016

MH Partner Jodi Swick prevailed on behalf of First Mercury in obtaining an order that Great Divide is required to share in the defense of the San Francisco 49ers, in a suit by victims of a beating at Levi’s Stadium.  Although First Mercury had a “primary and non-contributory” clause in its policy, the court still found that Great Divide had to share in the defense.

MH Partner Jodi Swick Again Recognized by the Legal Community

Oakland, CA. (July 16, 2016)

Oakland, CA. (July 16, 2016) – Jodi K. Swick, partner in the California office of McDowell Hetherington, LLP, has once again been recognized by her peers for her professional accomplishments. Jodi has been selected for inclusion in the 2016 list of Northern California Rising Stars by Super Lawyers, a designation earned by less than 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40. Jodi has also been named a Fellow by the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). The LCA is is an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society established to reflect the new face of the American bar. Membership is limited to 3,500 Fellows, representing less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. These accolades add to Jodi’s already impressive resume.

Dismissal of Consumer Protection Case Affirmed by Eleventh Circuit

2016

MH partner Jodi Swick represented a life insurance company in an action alleging violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), the California Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), and Financial Abuse of an Elder, for improperly canceling a policy for non-payment of premiums and concealing/discouraging the option of selling the Policy on the secondary market. Plaintiff’s case was originally filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court and MH removed it based on the fraudulent joinder of a non-resident defendant. Plaintiff had previously sued over the same Policy in Florida District Court where his claims were dismissed with prejudice. That dismissal was upheld by the Eleventh Circuit and certiorari was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. In this case, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint with prejudice on the grounds that all of Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, the applicable statute of limitations or both.

MH Houston Office Moves to First City Tower

Houston, TX. (June 11, 2016)

McDowell Hetherington LLP, a national trial litigation boutique law firm focused on meeting the litigation and trial needs of its clients, will relocate its Houston headquarters to the First City Tower, located at 1001 Fannin Street, Suite 2700, Houston, Texas 77002. The larger space will accommodate MH’s rapidly expanding footprint. The move is effective June 13, 2016.

MH California Recognized by Chambers & Partners for Excellence in Insurance Law

Oakland, CA. (June 1, 2016)

The California office of McDowell Hetherington, LLP has been recognized again by Chambers USA for excellence in Insurance Law. This is the second year in a row that the California office of MH has been recognized, in its second year of eligibility. Chambers USA ranks leading firms and lawyers in a range of practice areas. The qualities assessed include technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, and commitment. Chambers’ vigorous selection process focuses on interviews with clients and other lawyers and a review of recent work performed in the specific area of law. Out of the hundreds of firms in California with an insurer-side coverage practice, only twelve were listed by Chambers, including MH. Of those twelve, all but two are 500+ attorney BigLaw firms. MH is the only young, mid-sized boutique to be recognized.

Fifth Circuit Affirms Trial Verdict in Louisiana Mold Exposure Case

2016

MH attorney Hutson Smelley represented a property insurer sued in Louisiana by plaintiffs alleging personal injuries from mold exposure, achieving a complete defense verdict from the jury that was affirmed on appeal.

MH Secures Defeat of Class Certification Motion in RICO Case

2016

MH partners David McDowell and Amy Boyea represented a life insurer in a class action alleging RICO violations and fraud based on the putative class members’ adoption or participation in voluntary employees’ beneficiary association plans (VEBA Plans) under IRC 419A(f)(6); plans that allegedly did not provide the promised tax benefits. The case resolved after MH successfully defeated Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. MH served as lead defense counsel for the insurer and one of its former employees.

MH Lawyers Named Rising Stars

Houston, TX. (March 21, 2016)

McDowell Hetherington LLP is proud to announce that three of its lawyers – Kate Easterling, Blaire Bruns Johnson and Jason Richardson — have been named to the 2016 Texas Rising Stars list.

The annual list of Texas’ top up-and-coming lawyers is based on a statewide poll of attorneys. Nominees must be age 40 or younger or have been in practice for fewer than 10 years. Only 2.5 percent of Texas attorneys are included in the list, which appears in the April 2016 editions of Texas Monthly and Texas Rising Stars magazines.

Ms. Easterling, a senior attorney in the Houston office, was recognized as a “Rising Star” in business litigation — making her a five-time Texas Super Lawyer Rising Star. Ms. Easterling handles commercial disputes, energy litigation, tort claims, and personal injury claims across the country.

Ms. Johnson, a partner in the Houston office, has achieved great results for the firm’s clients in an array of civil litigation, including financial services litigation; life, health and disability insurance litigation; employment-related litigation; oil-and-gas industry litigation; and stop-loss insurance litigation. Particularly, Ms. Johnson has a growing practice in ERISA litigation both in Texas and across the country. Ms. Johnson was recognized as a “Rising Star” in insurance coverage.

Mr. Richardson, an associate in the Houston office, has a successful practice representing broker/dealers and financial advisors in securities arbitration proceedings before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Mr. Richardson also represents financial services and insurance companies in a wide variety of commercial litigation matters, including claims of life insurance fraud and employment disputes. Mr. Richardson is admitted to practice in Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Utah state courts. Mr. Richardson was recognized as a “Rising Star” in securities litigation.

MH Secures Dismissal with Prejudice of Bad Faith Claim

2015

MH attorney Jodi Swick represented a life insurance company who was sued by a plaintiff alleging a massive conspiracy to deny him benefits under his parents’ life insurance policy. We successfully moved to dismiss three iterations of Plaintiff’s complaint and twice successfully avoided attempts to remand the case to California state court. After the third dismissal, with prejudice, we successfully obtained a bill of costs against Plaintiff. Plaintiff ultimately agreed to voluntarily dismiss his Ninth Circuit appeal in exchange for a waiver of the bill of costs.

MH Secures Dismissal with Prejudice in Wrongful Lapse Case

2015

MH attorney Jodi Swick represented a life insurer where the policy lapsed, due to non-payment of premium, and insured died thereafter.  Plaintiff claimed her husband was incapacitated and was not capable under the California Probate Code to let the policy lapse such that the policy should be reinstated.  We brought a motion to dismiss claiming that the policy terms regarding policy payment and reinstatement were enforceable despite the Probate Code.  The Court agreed, granted our motion to dismissed, denied Plaintiff leave to amend and dismissed Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice.

MH Wins ERISA Preemption Motion

2014

MH attorney Jodi Swick represented a life insurance company in case where plaintiffs were two individuals who were not named beneficiaries of the policy but claimed to be entitled to benefits.  MH filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings alleging that the policies were preempted by ERISA.  The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. After the court’s ruling, plaintiffs elected not to file an amended complaint and the case resolved without payment.

MH Wins Summary Judgment in Welfare Benefit Case

2014

MH attorneys Amy Boyea and Jason Richardson obtained dismissal on summary judgment of all claims asserted by broker against his employer and its parent company for alleged improper training in relation to the sale of 419(e) plans.

California’s Second District Court of Appeal Affirms Dismissal in Life Insurance Dispute

2014

MH attorneys Tom Hetherington and Jodi Swick represented a life insurance company in a lawsuits where Plaintiff alleged a second-to-die life insurance policy was obligated the insurance company to pay the death benefit twice, i.e., upon the death of each spouse. Plaintiff sued the insurance broker who sold him the policy, the broker’s employer, and the insurer. The trial court sustained defendants’ demurrers to plaintiff’s second amended complaint without leave to amend and entered judgment accordingly, largely on statute of limitations grounds. The California’s Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s dismissal.

MH Secures Dismissal of Delaware RICO Case

2014

MH attorneys Tom Hetherington, David McDowell, Jarrett Ganer, and Kendall Burr represented a life insurer in mass action brought by 60 life insurance trusts seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. MH successfully obtained dismissal of nearly all of the claims in the suit, including RICO and fraud-based claims, and the case was thereafter resolved on terms highly favorable to the insurer.

Fifth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Title VII Case

2014

MH attorney Jason Richardson obtained summary judgment in favor of employer on all claims asserted by employee alleging violations of Title VII. The judgment was affirmed on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Case No. 13-40686).  The Supreme Court of the United States denied plaintiff’s petition for a writ of certiorari after consideration of the parties’ briefing (Case No. 14-5267).

5 Tips To Avoid Bad Faith

New York (February 7, 2013)

Law360 — As stated in an article written by MH partner Jodi Swick, insurance companies tend to make headlines when high-dollar or high-profile claims are denied. While insurance companies often have a valid reason for a determination of no coverage, a perception exists that insurance companies do not play by the rules and unfairly deny claims.

Fifth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Welfare Benefit Litigation

June 12, 2012

MH attorneys David McDowell and Amy Boyea successfully represented life insurer in Fifth Circuit Appeal to affirm trial court’s summary judgment in favor of life insurer regarding attempted rescission of life insurance policies issued to fund a 412 (i) welfare benefit plan.

MH Prevails in Impostor Insured Case

2011

MH attorneys David McDowell and Jason Richardson obtained summary judgment in favor of life insurer on all claims brought by a fictitious charitable organization for insurance proceeds on the life of a non-existent person. The court found that the beneficiary of the policies utilized forged documents to misidentify an unclaimed body as that of the insured’s. The policy was rescinded, and the insurer was awarded attorneys’ fees and permitted to retain all premiums paid on the policy.