Jason A. Richardson
Phone: (713) 337-8872
Fax: (713) 337-8862
Jason A. Richardson is a partner at McDowell Hetherington’s Houston office, with a nationwide civil litigation practice. Jason works closely with his clients to develop strategies and budgets that are tailored to the complexity of each case, and believes that time is of the essence with respect to all client communications. By providing efficient case management without compromise to the quality and effectiveness of his work product, Jason’s clients are able to take advantage of early case resolution opportunities or proceed confidently toward trial.
Jason’s practice is focused on financial services litigation, and has represented broker/dealer firms, life insurers, financial advisors, and individual investors in trial and appellate courts of all levels. He is licensed to practice in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and has handled appeals in the Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal. In addition, Jason has extensive experience in FINRA securities arbitration proceedings. Representative matters include claims regarding violations of state and federal securities laws, variable annuity suitability, life insurance fraud, negligent supervision, commission disputes and non-compete agreements. Jason has been recognized three times as a Texas Super Lawyer Rising Star for his experience in securities litigation.
In addition to securities disputes, Jason handles complex commercial litigation matters involving life insurance coverage, interpleader actions, debt collection, employment/non-compete agreements, merchant and consumer contract disputes, and Title VII discrimination claims. Prior to joining the firm in 2010, Jason’s practice focused on representing investors in FINRA securities arbitrations. In law school, Jason served as Chief Recent Developments Editor for the Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal, and was a regular political opinion columnist for the University of Houston’s Daily Cougar. Before beginning the practice of law, he worked in the land surveying industry, where he managed survey crews on major land development and oil pipeline projects and established boundary lines for governmental, commercial, and residential properties.
Apart from the practice of law, Jason enjoys live music, collecting patches and vinyl records from his favorite bands, and entertaining his two daughters.
Texas Rising Star – 2014, 2015, and 2016
- Gallier v. Woodbury Financial Servs., Inc., Case No. 4:14-cv-00888 (S.D. Tex. 2016); Appellate Case No. 16-20638 (5th Cir. 2017). 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 jury trial resulted in a significant award of damages, the court 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. The case was originally brought in FINRA arbitration proceedings, but dismissed as ineligible after the arbitrators determined that the claims were time-barred. The court made several favorable rulings 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.
- Pritsker v. American General Life Ins. Co., Case No. 3:15-cv-00846 (D. Conn. 2016); Appellate Case No. 16-2776-cv, 2017 WL 2257338 (2d Cir. 2017). The trial court granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in which a variable annuity issuer asserted a statute of limitations defense. The Plaintiff purchased a variable annuity in early 2008 which almost immediately lost value as a result of the severe market downturn later that year. He waited until 2013 to file suit, by which time his claims were time-barred. The Second Circuit affirmed the judgment on appeal.
- Hill v. Woodbury Financial Servs., Inc., Case No. 4:13-cv-01906 (S.D. Tex. 2015). Obtained summary judgment in favor of securities broker/dealer on all claims brought by former registered representative alleging breach of contract, fraud, and negligent failure to provide training necessary to make recommendations to customers regarding investments and complex welfare benefit plans. The court found that plaintiff’s claims were time-barred and dismissed them all with prejudice.
- Blaze, et al. v. American United Life Ins. Co., et al., Cause No. 2010-72102 (Harris Co., Tex. 2012). Obtained summary judgment in favor of annuity contract issuer on all claims brought by purported purchasers of counterfeit annuity policies allegedly created by the issuer’s former sales agent.
- Pratt v. ING USA Annuity & Life Ins. Co., Cause No. 2010-L-002155 (Cook Co., Ill. 2011). Obtained dismissal of all claims asserted by the estate of the annuitant under an annuity contract against the issuer for allegedly participating in a scheme to hasten the death of the annuitant.
- Cancer Treatment & Research Foundation v. American General Life Ins. Co., Case No. 10-C-5437 (N.D. Ill. 2012). 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.
- Yanez v. American General Life Ins. Co., Cause No. 2014CVF000504 D3 (Webb Co., Tex. 2015), Appellate Case No. 04-15-00548-cv (Tex. App.—San Antonio). Obtained summary judgment in favor of life insurer on all claims brought by a beneficiary who waited over ten years to file a death claim. The court found that Texas law does not impose an affirmative duty on life insurers to undertake searches of records such as the Social Security Death Master File to discover the death of its insureds. This ruling is one of the first and few in the country to address this topic, which has recently become the subject of class action litigation. The court dismissed all claims with prejudice on summary judgment, and denied the plaintiff’s subsequent request to set that judgment aside. This judgment was upheld on appeal to the Fourth Court of Appeals, San Antonio, Texas.
- Noble v. Lear Siegler Servs., Inc., Case No. 5:11-cv-00181 (E.D. Tex. 2013). 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), and the Supreme Court of the United States subsequently denied the plaintiff’s petition for a writ of certiorari (Case No. 14-5267).
- Lead counsel representing a securities broker/dealer in FINRA arbitration proceedings initiated by a group of 22 investors asserting claims relating to failed real estate investment trusts. All claims were favorably resolved after multiple days of mediation.
- Lead counsel representing a life insurer in state court and securities broker/dealer in FINRA arbitration proceedings in “selling away” Ponzi scheme litigation brought by investors. All claims were favorably resolved through direct negotiations and mediation.
- Assists securities broker/dealers in conducting internal investigations regarding suspected insider trading, violation of industry rules, and selling away by registered representatives. After the severe decline of the real estate markets in 2008, Jason assisted his broker/dealer clients in developing innovative litigation strategies to defend influx of lawsuits relating to real estate investment trusts.
PUBLICATIONS & SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
- “We Were Never Told That!”: Avoiding Litigation By Disclosure and Explanation of Annuity Taxation to Customers. Presentation, Oct. 3, 2012 at International Claim Association Annual Education Conference, Orlando, Florida.
- “Is a Variable Annuity a ‘Security’?: Making Sense of Inconsistent State and Federal Statutes,” PIABA Bar Journal, Vol. 14, No. 4, Winter 2007 (republished in Securities Arbitration 2008: Evolving and Improving 399-419 (PLI Corporate Law and Practice Course, Handbook Series No. B-1686, 2008))
- “’We Were Never Told These Things Could Fail’: An Overview of the Auction Rate Securities Market,” PIABA Bar Journal, Vol. 15, No. 1, Spring 2008.
- “Increased Scrutiny on Conservation Easement Donations: How a Crackdown on Tax Fraud by the IRS Could Impact Environmental Protection,” Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal, No. 1, 2005.
- Supreme Court of the United States
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
- United States District Court for the District of Utah
- United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
- United States Court of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits
- University of Houston Law Center, J.D., 2006
- University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business, M.B.A., 2006
- University of Utah, B.A., Speech Communication, 2002