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Alexander L. Kaplan

Overview

“Alex does top quality work rivaling the best I’ve seen from the lawyers I’ve worked with around the world. Just super.”

Dominic Ricotta, VP & Assoc. General Counsel, Apache Corporation  

I represent clients in a wide range of commercial litigation in federal and state courts and domestic and international arbitrations. I have considerable experience prosecuting and defending cases involving contract disputes, energy, intellectual property, securities, antitrust, insurance coverage, and other commercial litigation matters. In the past four years, I have recovered several hundred million dollars for my clients and successfully defended cases where plaintiffs sought multiples more as damages. My cases have been in various jurisdictions, including Texas, New York, London, Chicago, Delaware, New Jersey, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

I have advised a diverse group of clients, from large public companies to individuals, hedge funds, pension funds, start-ups and government entities. My clients have included Apache Corporation; Chevron Phillips Chemical Company; Enterprise Products Operating LP; Forest Oil Corporation; IntercontinentalExchange; LyondellBasell Industries NV; and Milwaukee County and the Milwaukee Public Employees Retirement System.

A large part of my practice has focused on the energy and petrochemical industries. Over the past several years, I have handled cases spanning the entire energy chain – including disputes arising from upstream/E&P activities, such as a patent litigation regarding drilling technology, royalty cases, and litigation over the exercise of preferential purchase rights; disputes arising from midstream energy activities, such as litigation over gas processing agreements and pipeline joint ventures; and disputes arising from downstream activities, such as crude oil refining and olefins processing, oil trading, and various commercial cases involving the sale of basic and specialty chemicals.

I especially enjoy cases that involve complex technical or financial matters. I have successfully handled cases involving technical subjects of all stripes, such as foreign exchange transactions, actuarial studies of long-term pension obligations, PLC code for drilling rigs, business and intellectual property valuation matters, and linear programming (LP) models for refinery operations.

The key in complex cases – indeed, in all cases – is to translate complex and technical subject matter into plain terms that resonate with a judge, arbitrator, or jury. Clients have praised my ability to do exactly that, both on the papers and in the courtroom. My writing has also been featured in leading books on effective advocacy: A brief that I wrote with my partners Steve and Harry Susman in the securities litigation over Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch is featured in How to Write Like the Nations’ Top Advocates (Univ. of Chicago Press). And a Daubert motion that I wrote in an actuarial malpractice case we tried in federal court in Milwaukee will be highlighted in The Model Advocate (Aspen Press), a forthcoming book by a Yale Law School writing instructor.

In addition to my practice, I currently serve as Susman Godfrey’s docket partner with responsibility for staffing client engagements across our five offices.

Before joining Susman Godfrey, I clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. I graduated with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Law Review.

I encourage potential clients to contact the references listed below for more information.

Notable Representations

Two of my current cases include:

  • Richard Barnett et al v. Chicago Climate Futures Exchange LLC et al – Representing Chicago Climate Futures Exchange, an electronic derivatives exchange that traded environmental futures, in a suit filed by former trading privilege holders regarding the sale of trading privileges. The case is pending in Cook County, Illinois.
  • Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Securities Litigation – Representing Bank of America shareholders who opted out of the federal securities class action to prosecute individual claims under Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act arising from Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch. The case is pending in the Southern District of New York.

Some of my recent cases include:

  • British Arbitration of Business Interruption Insurance Claim - Represented a petrochemical manufacturer and oil refining company in an ad hoc British arbitration arising from $450 million in business interruption losses caused by Hurricane Ike. I was responsible for all aspects of the refinery portion of the case (the largest element of the claim), including coverage issues, complex accounting issues and disputed technical, engineering matters. The case settled on confidential terms on the eve of the final arbitration hearing.
  • Houston Refining LP v. Deep South Crane & Rigging Co. - Represented Houston Refining LP, a subsidiary of LyondellBasell Industries N.V., in a $48 million negligence suit against the owner and operator of one of the largest cranes in the world, whose crane collapsed at our client’s refinery. Before we were hired, the trial judge granted partial summary judgment for the crane company, holding that the economic loss rule barred our client from recovering lost profits or any other non-property damages – a ruling that eliminated over 95% of the damages our client sought. After we were hired, I wrote the brief that persuaded the trial judge to overturn his prior summary judgment order on the economic loss rule, restoring our client’s right to seek 100% of its damages. The case settled on confidential terms shortly before trial.
  • Patent Litigation Over Directional Drilling Technology - Represented drilling technology company in patent infringement suit against two competitors over strategic rig-control technology that increases horizontal drilling efficiency through down-hole orientation and oscillation controls. I successfully briefed the opposition to defendants’ motion to transfer venue, and was responsible for all fact and expert discovery regarding infringement and willfulness. The case settled shortly before trial on monetary and business terms highly favorable to our client.
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical v. BDP International - Represented Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. (CPChem) in multi-million dollar breach of contract suit against BDP, a freight forwarding company, for charging foreign-exchange conversion fees that we argued were not authorized by the parties’ contract. I persuaded the trial court to grant partial summary judgment for CPChem on liability, establishing that BDP’s challenged fees were not permitted under the contract, and to grant summary judgment against BDP’s counterclaims. I also handled all of the fact and expert discovery. We went to trial on BDP’s affirmative defenses and the amount of CPChem’s damages. The case settled on confidential terms after the first week of trial.
  • Milwaukee County v. Mercer Human Resources Consulting - Obtained a $45 million settlement for Milwaukee County and its public employees’ retirement system after nearly 3 weeks of trial in federal court in this highly publicized actuarial malpractice case against Mercer, the largest actuarial firm in the country. Before trial, I handled all of the Daubert expert briefing and worked extensively with our experts – leading actuaries and a financial valuation expert from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business – to model the future impact of Mercer’s advice on Milwaukee County’s pension system. At trial, I argued and defeated Mercer’s motion to preclude our expert from presenting his valuation model to the jury, presented our damages expert, and cross-examined an adverse witness. The case settled before Mercer began its case-in-chief. The settlement was reported to be the largest professional negligence settlement in Wisconsin history and one of the largest settlements nationally from an actuary.
  • George Rodriguez v. City of Houston - Won a landmark $5 million jury verdict against the City of Houston in a wrongful conviction case for George Rodriguez, who spent 17 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. In 2004, Susman Godfrey and The Innocence Project persuaded the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to grant Rodriguez’s habeas corpus petition and vacate his convictions based on DNA and other forensic evidence. In 2006, Rodriguez sued the City of Houston for violating his due process rights by using false scientific evidence from the Houston Police Department Crime Lab against him during his 1987 criminal trial. We tried the case in 2009 with our co-counsel Barry Scheck. After a two-week trial, the jury found that the City’s failure to supervise and train its Crime Lab personnel caused the constitutional violation, and that Chief of Police Lee Brown was “deliberately indifferent” to the substantial risk that the City’s inadequate supervision and training would lead to similar violations. At trial, I presented our client on direct examination, cross-examined the Harris County District Attorney who prosecuted the criminal case in 1987, and handled the direct and cross-examinations of the competing psychiatric experts. The case settled during the second round of appeals to the Fifth Circuit. This case is reported to be the first ever finding of municipal liability for constitutional violations attributable to forensic misconduct. See 109 Columbia Law Review (Sidebar) 82 (2009).
  • Marathon Oil Co. v. Enterprise Products Operating LP, Shell Oil Co. - Defended Enterprise in an arbitration against contract and tort claims asserted by Marathon regarding the dedication of natural gas processing rights for gas from offshore Gulf of Mexico. I took the key depositions of Marathon and Shell corporate representatives and briefed our motion for summary judgment. We persuaded the arbitrator to dismiss nearly all of Marathon’s claims on summary judgment, including a $45 million lost profits claim. We settled the case on highly favorable terms within days of receiving the arbitrator’s summary judgment order.

Other notable engagements include:

  • Texas Standard Oil & Gas LP et al. v. Frankel Offshore Energy, Inc., 344 S.W.3d 628 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, pet. denied) - Won an appeal involving a question of first impression under Section 52.006 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, which governs the amount of security necessary to suspend execution of a judgment pending appeal).
  • Dispute Regarding Private Equity Restructuring of Pipeline Construction Company - Represented a pipeline construction company in litigation brought by the company’s former managing member and other minority interest holders arising from a merger and financial restructuring. I successfully argued a motion to dismiss the former manager’s breach of contract claim for $3 million in management fees, leaving only a claim for equitable relief related to an equity offering by new management, which the plaintiffs sought to arbitrate on an expedited basis. We defeated that effort by persuading a court to stay the arbitration on the ground that the equitable claim was not subject to mandatory arbitration. Plaintiffs appealed that stay to the court of appeals, and the case was settled on favorable terms after the appeal, which I argued, was decided.
  • Tortious Interference Case Regarding Offshore Oil Prospect - Defended a Fortune 500 energy company in a suit filed in Texas state court by a Canadian energy company claiming that our client tortiously interfered with a transaction to develop a large oil field off the coast of Trinidad. After discovery in the US, Canada, and Trinidad, we filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims; we successfully settled the case while that motion was pending for less than half a penny on the dollar of damages that the plaintiff told the Court it sought.
  • Auction-Rate Securities Dispute - Represented an investment fund in a dispute with Morgan Stanley over auction-rate securities; our client recovered the complete amount of its investment.
  • Audit Malpractice Dispute – Represented a NASDAQ life sciences company in a professional negligence case in Virginia state court against the company’s former auditor arising from the auditor’s work on the client’s IPO and SEC registration. The case settled during discovery on confidential terms.
  • Contract Dispute Regarding Power Plant Equipment – Defended the manufacturer of compression equipment for a power plant in Mexico against the buyer’s breach of contract and warranty suit in federal court in Florida. After working with the client’s technical staff to understand the precise causes of the system failure, we filed a cross-claim against a key component-part manufacturer, and developed strong liability facts against that party without formal discovery. That enabled us to resolve the case at an early mediation. Our client paid less than it had offered the plaintiff before suit was filed and we were hired.

Education

University of Colorado at Boulder (B.A.)
University of Texas School of Law (J.D., with high honors)

Judicial Clerkship

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Judge Jerry E. Smith

Honors and Distinctions

  • Editor-in-Chief, Texas Law Review , Vol. 81
  • Order of the Coif
  • Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law
  • Dean's Award in Antitrust
  • Dean's Award in Admiralty
  • National Champion, Judge John R. Brown National Admiralty Moot Court Competition
  • Selected as a "Rising Star" by Law & Politics Magazine (Texas Super Lawyers) (Thomson Reuters) (2007 - 2012)
  • Elected Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • State Bar of Texas
  • American Bar Association
  • Houston Bar Association - Member, Habitat for Humanity Committee
  • Houston Bar Association - Arbitrator, Fee Disputes Committee

References

I encourage you to contact the references listed below:

Reference

Company/Firm

Phone

Jeffrey A. Kaplan
Deputy General Counsel  (client)

Houston Refining LP
LyondellBasell Industries N.V.

713 309 7130

Mark A. Waite
 Senior Counsel
 (client;former opposing counsel)

Houston Refining LP
LyondellBasell Industries N.V.

713 309 4986

Barry Scheck
 (co-counsel)

Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin
 The Innocence Project

212 965 9081

Richard Jacobs QC
(co-counsel)

Essex Court Chambers

44 (0) 20 7813 8000

Grant Dorfman
 Senior Counsel
 (client)

Nabors Corporate Services, Inc.

281 775 4818

Skip Marter
 General Counsel
 (client)

Forest Oil Corporation

303 812 1701

Lisa Ketai
 Senior Counsel
 (client)

Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.

832 813 4331

Dominic Ricotta
VP & Assoc. General Counsel
(client)

Apache Corporation

713 296 6000

Rick Morris
 (opposing counsel)

Rogers, Morris & Grover LLP

713 960 6019

Mike Morris
 (opposing counsel)

Tekell, Book, Allen & Morris LLP

713 222 9542

David Gunn
 (co-counsel)

Beck, Redden & Secrest LLP

713 951 6290

Hampton M. Carver
 (counsel for co-defendant)

Carver, Darden LLC

504 585 3800

Stephen M. Orlofsky
(co-counsel; former federal judge)

Blank Rome LLP

609 750 2646

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