Appeals

Having an excellent appellate team is integral to our Firm’s mission of delivering outstanding results for our clients. The quality of appellate counsel often means the difference between winning and losing. Winning a difficult appeal takes more than simply citing the right legal precedent; it requires a sophisticated approach to writing briefs and presenting oral argument. An appellate lawyer must be able to seamlessly weave together persuasive argument and legal authority—and anticipate legal trends. That holds true whether the party wins or loses at trial or in an intermediate court of appeals. Appeals are especially common when important principles or large amounts of money are at issue. The bigger the stakes, the more critical it is to have outstanding appellate counsel.

Great appellate lawyers also strengthen a client’s position at trial. Few cases go on appeal; most end with a negotiated settlement. But there are good reasons why clients and other firms call on our appellate lawyers at the trial stage of important cases. Our appellate experience helps us frame the best strategies and legal theories for a case—from initial investigation all the way through discovery and trial. In negotiations, our appellate lawyers also pose a “vertical threat” to opponents, who have to weigh the odds that an appeals court will side with our clients.

While past results never guarantee future performance, we are proud of our attorneys’ experience and track records. Our lawyers include former law clerks for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, Texas’s Third District Court of Appeals, and other courts in Texas. While we regularly practice before the Texas Supreme Court and other Texas courts of appeals, our record of winning appeals extends far beyond the Lone Star State. Our attorneys have successfully represented clients in courts from California to New York, including the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court.

Representative cases

Burks v. XL Specialty Ins. Co.,

No. 14-14-00740-CV, 2015 WL 5436884 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Sept. 15, 2015, no. pet. h.). 

Chris Johns, Joe Marrs, Zev Kusin and Leah Lanier represented a former CFO in a successful appeal of a summary judgment denying coverage under a D&O insurance policy. The parties reached a confidential settlement following the appeal. Please find news coverage here.


In re Parker Family Trust,

No. 13-13-00592-CV, 2014 WL 4055992 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Aug. 14, 2014, no pet.):

The firm, with Chris Johns as lead appellate counsel, prevailed in defending a district court’s judgment against a challenge to the appointment of JMEH’s clients, trust beneficiaries, as co-trustees following the resignation of their predecessor. The predecessor trustee appealed, claiming that he was still trustee and that the district court lacked jurisdiction. The Third Court of Appeals ruled in favor of JMEH’s clients, dismissing the appeal in its entirety.


Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc.,

547 U.S. 356 (2006):

Chris Johns coauthored the winning merits brief and sat second chair for this statutory-construction case at the U.S. Supreme Court, which held 9-0 for his client.


Rationis Enterprises Inc. of Panama v. Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co.,

426 F.3d 580 (2d Cir. 2005):

Chris Johns briefed and argued an admiralty appeal to the Second Circuit, which reversed a liability determination and rendered a take-nothing judgment on claims exceeding $100 million.


Rowe Entertainment, Inc. v. William Morris Agency, Inc.,

167 Fed. Appx. 227 (2d Cir. 2005):

Chris Johns cowrote the winning brief in an appeal where the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of civil-rights and antitrust claims against major booking agencies.


Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp.,

550 U.S. 437 (2007):

Chris Johns coauthored the Software and Information Industry Association’s amicus brief, which the U.S. Solicitor General cited to support Microsoft’s successful petition for certiorari.


Southwest Intelecom Inc. v. Compass Bank,

253 Fed. Appx. 372 (5th Cir. 2007):

Chris Johns wrote the prevailing brief for Compass Bank, with the Fifth Circuit affirming dismissal of UCC and common-law claims.


Tomlinson v. Estate of Theis,

2008 WL 160202 (Tex. App.—Austin Jan. 18, 2008, no pet.):

Chris Johns authored the winning brief in a will challenge involving a multi-million-dollar estate.


State of Texas v. 7

KX Investments, No. 03-10-0069, In the Third District Court of Appeals, Austin, Texas (2011):

Chris Johns coauthored the successful summary-judgment response at trial and the merits brief on appeal in an important groundwater-rights case, which settled just days before oral argument for $5.5 million (just $300,000 less than the jury verdict).


Anglo-Dutch Petroleum International, Inc. v. Greenberg Peden, P.C.,

352 S.W.3d 445 (Tex. 2011):

Chris Johns submitted briefing and participated in oral argumentat the Texas Supreme Court, which reversed and rendered judgment in favor of a client in a fee dispute with its lawyer.


United States ex rel. Gonzalez v. Fresenius Medical Care of North America,

__ F.3d __ (2012)  (reviewing 748 F.Supp.2d 95 (W.D. Tex. 2010) and 761 F.Supp.2d 442 (W.D. Tex. 2010)): 

Chris Johns and Ryan Downton represented a nephrologist and his medical clinic against a disgruntled employee’s claims of Medicare fraud, with the jury and judge awarding a take-nothing verdict and judgment for our clients. Mr. Johns argued the case to the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the judgment.


Jiménez v. Texas,

No. 12-117, In the Supreme Court of the United States (2012):

Chris Johns and Zev Kusin filed an amicus brief on behalf of the president-elect of Mexico, the governor of the State of Mexico, and the State of Mexico itself, supporting the cert petition of an undocumented Mexican woman who was deprived funds to hire a competent expert witness in a criminal case that turned on expert medical opinion.