Shutterstock_183259712In the last two weeks, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled as follows in the 11 cases it decided:

  • Threw out $46.5 million jury verdict for the owner of the Rivercenter Mall and the ground beneath the Marriott Riverwalk hotel in downtown San Antonio. The owner had sued its tenants for sending a letter that "blew up" a pending $166 million deal to sell the property. The Court held that, despite the "dramatic effect" of the letter on the deal, no evidence supported the jury's finding that the deal would have closed but-for the letter. HMC Hotel Properties II Ltd. P'ship v. Keystone-Texas Property Holding Corp., No. 12-0289 (Tex. June 13, 2014).
  • Held that the guarantor of a $696,000 note waived his statutory right to reduce the note amount by the $840,000 fair market value of the collateral securing the note at the time the lender foreclosed. The guaranty provided that the guarantor waived "any defense", which the Court construed to include the right of offset under section 51.003(b) of the Texas Property Code. Moayedi v. Interstate 35/Chisam Road, L.P., No. 12-0937 (Tex. June 13, 2014).
  • Ruled that cotton farmers had to arbitrate a dispute with a marketing pool. The Court severely limited the unconscionability defense, allowing a contract provision that entitled the pool but not the farmers to an award of attorneys' fees and ordering severance of an unenforceable waiver of the farmers' rights under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act despite the pool's failure to request it in the trial court. Venture Cotton Coooperative v. Freeman, No. 13-0122 (Tex. June 13, 2014).
  • Overturned a jury finding that the majority shareholders of a Texas corporation oppressed the minority by thwarting their efforts to sell their shares. The Court held that the business judgment rule protected majority conduct that oppresses the minority. It also disallowed the trial court's order that the majority buy out the minority shareholders' stake and abolished any common-law claim for minority oppression in Texas. Ritchie v. Rupe, No. 11-0447 (Tex. June 20, 2014).
  • Tossed a jury verdict awarding a general contractor $5 million in damages for a subcontractor's egregiously faulty construction plans, ruling that the "economic loss" rule generally bars tort claims between participants in construction projects under Texas law. LAN/STV v. Martin K. Eby Construction Co., Inc., No. 11-0810 (Tex. June 20, 2014).
  • Vacated $26 million arbitration award in a dispute relating to the sale of insurance companies, concluding that the striking of an arbitrator for "partiality" violated the parties' arbitration agreement, which required only "knowledgeable" and "independent" arbitrators but not "impartial" ones. Americo Life, Inc. v. Myer, No. 12-0739 (Tex. June 20, 2014).
  • Rendered judgment for Schlumberger, whose guest on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico drank himself to extreme drunkenness before driving home and hitting a couple riding a motorcycle and causing them to lose their legs, on the ground that Schlumberger's activity on navigable waters did not give rise to a claim under federal maritime law, which in contrast to Texas law would have recognized Schlumberger's liablity as a "host". Schlumberger Technology Corp. v. Arthey, 12-1013 (Tex. June 20, 2013).
  • Rendered judgment that the owner of Tract A could not recover damages from the lessee of minerals in Tract B for building a road between Tract A and Tract B, holding that a pooling order that covered parts of both Tract A and Tract B gave the lessee "implied" rights to use the surface of Tract A. Key Operating & Equip., Inc. v. Hegar, No. 13-0156 (Tex. June 20, 2014).
  • Reinstated a jury verdict in favor of Ford Motor Company. Ford claimed that the plaintiff and a juror in a personal injury case defrauded it into paying millions of dollars to settle the case by inducing the juror to send a note asking "what is the maximum amount that can be awarded" during deliberations. Ford Motor Co. v. Castillo, No. 13-0158 (Tex. June 20, 2014).
  • Rendered judgment against a victim of an assault at the Graham Central Station nightclub, ruling that no evidence supported the trial court's finding that Graham Central Station, Inc. owned and provided security for Graham Central Station. Graham Central Station, Inc. v. Pena, No. 13-0450 (Tex. June 20, 2014).
  • Held that a workers compensation provide had a right to receive a bigger share of the proceeds of workers' claims against third-parties. State Office of Risk Management v. Carty, No. 13-0639 (Tex. June 20, 2014).

Judge for yourself whether the decisions favored the strong or the weak.

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Photo of Barry Barnett Barry Barnett

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck…

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck Redden).

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Lawdragon has named him one of the top 500 lawyers in the United States three years in a row. Best Lawyers in America has honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” for Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017) and Patent Litigation (2020) in Houston. Based in Texas and New York, Barnett has tried complex business disputes across the United States.

Barnett’s background, training, and experience make him indispensable to his clients. The small-town son of a Texas roughneck and grandson of a Texas sharecropper, Barnett “developed an unusual common sense about people, their motivations, and their dilemmas,” according to former client Michael Lewis.

Barnett has been historically recognized for his effectiveness and judgment. His peers chose him, for example, to the American College of Trial Lawyers and American Law Institute. His decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants have made him a master strategist and nimble tactician in complex disputes.

Barnett focuses on enforcement of antitrust laws, the “Magna Carta of free enterprise,” in Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s memorable phrase. “Barry is one of the nation’s outstanding antitrust lawyers,” according to Joseph Goldberg, a member of the Private Antitrust Enforcement Hall of Fame. Named among Texas’s top ten antitrust lawyers of 2023, Business Today calls Barnett a “trailblazer” among the “distinguished legal minds” who “dedicate their skill and expertise to the maintenance of healthy competition in various sectors” of the Lone Star State’s booming economy. Barnett is also adept in energy and intellectual property matters and has battled for clients against a Who’s Who list of corporate behemoths, including Abbott Labs, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Broadcom, Comcast, Dow, JPMorgan Chase, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett commands a courtroom with calm and credibility and “is the perfect lawyer for bet the company litigation,” said Scott Regan, General Counsel of former client Whiting Petroleum. His performance before the Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend prompted the Court to withdraw the question on which it had granted review. The judge in a trial involving mobile phone technology called Barnett “one of the best” and that his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict against the county’s biggest employer that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.

A versatile trial lawyer, Barnett knows how to handle a case all the way from strategic pre-suit planning to affirmance on appeal. He’s tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before appellate courts, including the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, often serving on panels and talking about topics like the trials of antitrust class actions and techniques for streamlining complex litigation. He also comments on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, Reuters, Law360, Corporate Counsel, and The Dallas Morning News. He’s even appeared in a Frontline program about underfunding of state pensions, authored chapters on “Fee Arrangements” and “Techniques for Expediting and Streamlining Litigation” (the latter with Steve Susman) in the ABA’s definitive treatise on Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 5th, and commented on How Antitrust Enforcers Might Think Like Plaintiffs’ Lawyers.

Clients and other hard graders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal acumen.

A client in a $100 million oil and gas case, which Barnett’s team won at trial and held on appeal, said Barnett and his team “presented a rare combination of strong legal intellect, common sense about right and wrong, and credibility in the courtroom.” David McCombs at Haynes and Boone said Barnett “has a natural presence that goes over well with juries and judges.”

Even former adversaries give Barnett high marks. Lead opposing counsel in a decade-long antitrust slugfest said “Barry is a highly skilled advocate. He understands what really matters in telling a narrative and does so in a very compelling manner.”

Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), founded by a former prosecutor at Nuremberg in 1947 and headquartered in the Dallas area, he has served on the Executive Committee, co-chaired the committee that produced CAIL’s first-ever strategic plan, supported CAIL’s Institute for Law Enforcement Administration and other development efforts, and proposed formation of a new Institute for Social Justice Law. CAIL’s former President David Beck said “Barry is extremely bright” and is “very well prepared in every lawsuit or professional task he undertakes.”

Barnett is also a Trustee of the New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, a member of the Yale University Art Gallery’s Governing Board, a winner of the Class Award for his work on behalf of his college class, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program at Harvard Law. Barnett’s pro bono work includes leading the trial team representing people who are at greatest risk of severe illness and death as a result of being exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while being detained in the Dallas County jail—work for which he received the NGAN Legal Advocacy Fund RBG Award.

At Susman Godfrey, Barnett has served on the firm’s Executive Committee, Employment Committee, and ad hoc committees on partner compensation, succession of leadership, and revision of the firm’s partnership agreement. He also twice chaired the Practice Development Committee.

Barnett understands that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that take years to resolve. He encourages clients to call him whenever they have a question or concern and to keep the inevitable ups and downs in perspective. He wants them to know that he will do his level best to help them achieve their goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure.

Cyrus “Skip” Marter, the General Counsel of Bonanza Creek in Denver and a former Susman Godfrey partner and client, said Barnett is “excellent about communicating with clients in a full and honest manner” and can “negotiate for his clients from a position of strength, because he is not afraid to take a case through a full trial on the merits.” Stacey Doré, the President of Hunt Utility Services and a former client, said that Barnett is “an excellent trial lawyer and the person you want to hire for your bet-the-company cases. He is client focused, responsive, and uniquely savvy about trial and settlement strategy.” A New York colleague said, “Barry is a joy to work with as co-counsel. He tackles complex procedural and factual hurdles capably, efficiently, and without drama.”

Barnett’s wide-ranging experience and calm, down-to-earth approach enable him to connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel. He grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas. He co-captained his high school varsity football team as an All-East Texas middle linebacker while also serving as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District, won the Best Typist award, took the History Team to glory, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. As Dan Kelly of client Vistra Corp. put it, Barnett is “a great person to be around.”

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Their daughter works for H-E-B in Houston, and their son is a Haynes and Boone transactions lawyer in Dallas.

As a member of Ivy League championship football teams in his junior and senior years at Yale and a parent of two Yalies, Barnett has no trouble choosing sides for “The Game” in November. And he knows how important fighting all the way to the end is. On his last play from scrimmage, in the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, he recovered a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.