Daniel H. Charest
From his first days at the firm, Daniel has answered the call and taken a front-line role in high-stakes litigation matters. Daniel’s experience includes antitrust, breach of contract, oil & gas, financial-service company disputes, business torts, such as trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition, consumer fraud and consumer protection, class actions, fraud, insurance bad faith, and wrongful death. And his work has taken place across the United States: federal and state courts from coast to coast with plenty of time in between. Daniel’s docket has covered procedural and jurisdictional challenges such as removal and remand under the Class Action Fairness Act, class certification, transfers, temporary restraining orders, temporary injunctions, and appeals.
At the conclusion of a recent trial, The Honorable Ed Kinkeade, District Judge for U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, congratulated Susman Godfrey’s clients about their choice in legal representation. The trial team consisted of Terry Oxford, Daniel Charest, and co-counsel:
[Plaintiffs], all of y’all had really good representation, which you have to know. These are very good lawyers that did an excellent job regardless of the outcome in this case. And I don’t see that all the time. I get a lot of big firm crummy lawyers from time to time, but these guys really know what they were doing.
And recent client, David Brooks, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc., related his experience with Daniel:
[Daniel is] the kind of lawyer I need in difficult, time constrained matters. Tenacious, aggressive but practical. [He is] looking out for client’s interests at all times. Decisive and prepared, what else can I say?
In addition to his legal experience, Daniel brings real-world experience developed from working in leadership roles in industry at a young age that involved travel all over the world and required cooperation with all forms of culture and character. While maintaining his full workload, Daniel serves as a pro bono mediator in a program administered by the Dallas courts, called “Settlement Week.” Daniel is admitted to practice in Texas, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and several federal district courts and courts of appeal, including all Texas federal courts.
- Tulane University Law School, J.D., summa cum laude (2004).
- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, B.S. Marine Transportation, cum laude (1994).
- Cheverus High School, Portland, Maine (1990)
- The Honorable Edith Brown Clement, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2005-2006).
- The Honorable Martin L.C. Feldman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (externship 2003-2004).
- Named “Future Star” in Texas by Benchmark Litigation: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms & Attorneys (2012 and 2013).
- Named "Rising Star" in Texas by SuperLawyers Magazine (2012 and 2013).
- Managing Editor of the Tulane Law Review (2003-2004).Order of the Coif (2004).
- Harry F. Stiles Jr. Scholarship (2001-2004).
- Lemle & Kelleher Award for Excellence in Maritime Studies (2004).
- Winner, Best Brief, Judge John R. Brown National Admiralty Moot Court Competition (2004).
- Runner-up, Overall, Judge John R. Brown National Admiralty Moot Court Competition (2004).
- Chief Mate, unlimited tonnage, U.S. Coast Guard.
- Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy (Reserve), with an honorable discharge.
- Authored the published comment, A Fresh Look at the Treatment of Vessel Managers Under COGSA, 78 TUL. L. REV. 885 (2003).
Optima Oil & Gas Co., LLC v. Mewbourne Oil Co. In October 2012, Daniel convinced a panel from the Eleventh Circuit to affirm the trial court’s dismissal of all claims against Susman Godfrey client, Mewbourne Oil Co. Daniel handled all aspects of the appeal to its successful conclusion.
S.L. Sibert Management & Construction, Inc. v. Daniel Prescott, Chesapeake Energy Corp., et al. In September 2012, the Court rejected defendant Chesapeake’s motion for summary judgment. The Court’s ruling cleared the path for SG client, Sibert, to proceed to trial. But the parties resolved their issues on the eve of trial under confidential terms. Daniel and his partner, Warren Burns, led the trial team with the assistance of associate David Shank.
In re Kosmos Energy, Ltd. Securities Litigation. In July 2012, after removing several suits against Susman Godfrey client, Kosmos Energy, Ltd., in which plaintiffs seek hundreds of millions, and coordinating the consolidation of the suits, Daniel, along with partners Steve Susman, Terry Oxford, Warren Burns, and associate Kat Hacker, successfully maintained federal jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ motion to remand. Daniel handled the motion practice for the removal and opposition to the remand.
Olympia Minerals, LLC v. HS Resources, Inc. In October and November 2011, Daniel, along with Dallas partner Barry Barnett, handled a bench trial in an oil & gas matter in which both sides asserted multi-million dollar claims. After the 10-day trial and post-trial briefing, the Court rendered judgment in favor of SG’s clients for over $14 million (before interest) and awarding rights to the disputed seismic data. In the trial, Daniel argued all key motions, presented party experts, and crossed opposing experts. Daniel completed the effort by principally authoring the post-trial briefs. Even before that, Daniel shaped the case by handing the bulk of the depositions and pre-trial work. Cristin Bracken, then in-house counsel for co-plaintiff Forest Oil Company, described Daniel’s impact: “you are the one who took the time to know this case, to get in the weeds, to develop the theories that made sense, and to make it a winner.”
Olympia Minerals, LLC v. HS Resources, Inc. In September 2011, Daniel argued against a motion for summary judgment on a contract construction claim so effectively that the trial court granted summary judgment—in favor of Daniel’s client. As a result of the summary judgment win, the parties entered the trial with a $1.4 million credit to plaintiff Olympia Minerals. In addition, Daniel and partner Barry Barnett successfully handled several other defendant-raised summary judgment motions. These rulings permitted the case to go to trial on the merits.
Olympia Minerals, LLC v. HS Resources, Inc. In September 2011, Daniel led a two-day evidentiary hearing on claims of spoliation of evidence. Coordinating live witnesses and video testimony and cross examining the opposing side’s expert, Daniel, along with partner Barry Barnett, convinced the trial court to deny the opposition’s motion.
Behrend v. Comcast Corp. In August 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court affirmed the certification of a multi-million member class of cable subscribers in an antitrust suit against cable giant, Comcast. The class alleges that Comcast violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act through a series of agreements and clustering within the greater-Philadelphia metro region. Class counsel include Barry Barnett, Stephen Shackelford, and Daniel. Class notice is underway.
Optima Oil & Gas Co., LLC v. Mewbourne Oil Co. In August 2011, Susman Godfrey client, Mewbourne Oil Company, obtained an order dismissing all claims against it. The federal district court agreed with Daniel’s argument and concluded the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Daniel led the defense against the $70 million claims by both principally authoring the successful briefs and handling all aspects of pretrial discovery. In connection with Daniel’s representation of his company, Mewbourne’s senior in-house counsel offered the following comments:
Susman Godfrey provides excellent services efficiently, in an atmosphere of real teamwork. We are often amazed by the consummate skills of the younger partners and impressed by the centered wisdom of their mentors in guiding the blossoming of these exquisite lawyers.
Vista Exploration Co. v. Mewbourne Oil Co. In May 2010, Mewbourne Oil Company won the dismissal of all claims against it when a federal district court concluded that the plaintiff entity did not exist when it filed suit. Daniel, ably assisted by Mewbourne’s in-house counsel and partner Barry Barnett, handled all aspects of the defense of the case, including removal and briefing the motion to dismiss.
Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP v. Wachovia Bank, N.A. In March 2010, Daniel, along with partner Stephen Shackelford, convinced a federal district court to remand the action to Dallas County district court. Susman Godfrey represented Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP in connection with Ashford’s purchase of participation interests in a loan. Following remand, the parties litigated the case in state court and, ultimately, resolved their differences.
Platinum Benefits Solutions, LLC v. Trover Solutions, Inc. In February 2010, Susman Godfrey client, Trover Solutions, resolved claims against it on satisfactory, confidential terms. Daniel handled all aspects of the AAA arbitration from its inception, through extensive fact discovery, to the preparation for the arbitration. He obtained guidance from Houston partner, Neal Manne, and assistance during the trial-preparation phase from Houston partner Karen Oshman.
Behrend v. Comcast Corp. In October 2009, Daniel, along with Barry Barnett, participated in a four-day evidentiary hearing applying In re Hydrogen Peroxide Antitrust Litig., 552 F.3d 305 (3d Cir. 2008), to the certification of the class at bar. As a result of the hearing and subsequent briefing and argument, the federal district court certified a class of roughly two million greater-Philadelphia cable subscribers asserting antitrust claims against Comcast. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the order certifying the class. See Behrend v. Comcast Corp., 655 F.3d 182 (3d Cir. 2011).
Atlas Venture I, LLC and Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., Bank of America, N.A., U.S. Bank, as trustee for Maiden Lane Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Trust 2008-1, Maiden Lane Mortgage-Backed Securities Trust 2008-1, Blackrock Financial Management, Inc., and Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending, Inc. In June 2009, Daniel led the litigation team that represented Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP against several major financial institutions, obtained a temporary injunction on behalf of his client, and preserved the value of his client’s investment, valued at more than $160 million. The Susman Godfrey team, including Steve Susman, Stephen Shackelford, and Daniel, worked hand-in-hand with the clients over the short but intense life of the litigation. In court, Daniel argued and presented his client’s position at every hearing, including both the application for a TRO and opposing an emergency motion to dissolve the TRO.
Counter Active, Inc. v. Tacom, L.P. In June 2009, Daniel handled a case behalf of the defendant client, Cosentino USA, in which the plaintiffs agreed to a take-nothing judgment. A Florida distributor sued the client, asserting a broad array of claims such as fraud, tortious interference, franchise claims, and many statutory claims under both Florida and Minnesota law. The trial team of J. Hoke “Trey” Peacock III and Daniel successfully removed from the plaintiffs’ choice of state court and obtained an order transferring the case to the client’s preferred venue. After transfer, Daniel authored a motion to dismiss that resulted in the dismissal of the majority of the claims against his client. Daniel oversaw all aspects of discovery and, ultimately, negotiated the settlement. Opposing counsel, John Holland, a Partner at Dady & Garner, P.A., had this to say about Daniel:
Dan is an aggressive and thoughtful litigator—a rare combination—and a true asset to his clients.
Ideal Capital Ltd. Partnership v. C & C North America, Inc. In May 2009, Daniel, with Trey Peacock, defended claims related to options to purchase preferred stock. Daniel identified a means to resolve a majority of the claims against the client and convinced the federal district judge to permit early briefing of the lone issue. And, having completed the briefing, Daniel obtained the summary judgment on the dominant issues in the case. The parties resolved the remainder of the issues. Timothy M. Walsh, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, C & C North American, Inc., described Daniel’s attributes:
I have always been impressed with your legal abilities. You are a smart, thorough attorney and you always have a firm grasp of the big picture and objectives of the litigation as well as being on top of all the small details. You are very easy to work with and very responsive. What I like best about you, though, is you are very creative and I feel that you truly have my (the client’s) best interests in mind. You have come up with some great strategies in a couple of our cases that have allowed us to get out of the matter early. Thanks for all your help.
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Shorts. In May 2009, a Susman Godfrey team faced certiorari review by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a federal jurisdiction issue that Daniel had handled in a prior case. The team asked Daniel to assist with the memorandum in opposition to the petition for certiorari because of his experience in subject matter jurisdiction. Daniel jumped into the team and coordinated the briefing and completion of the final product, which was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Siding with the Susman Godfrey team, the Court denied certiorari.
Southgate Master Fund v. United States. In January 2009, Daniel joined a trial team made up of Dallas partner Terry Oxford and co-counsel in a suit challenging an IRS determination. Daniel participated in the fourteen-day bench trial, obtaining live testimony, winning key evidentiary arguments, and preparing witnesses day in and day out. Presiding Judge Kinkeade spoke clearly about the quality of the trial counsel in the quote above. And client, Jacob Cherner, President of CSG Investments, Inc., provided his thoughts on Daniel’s work in the case:
Dan did great work on our multi-billion dollar case. Dan’s representation was diligent and tenacious. Dan is very hard working and this attribute coupled with his unique insight was of significant assistance to us in our case.
Rodriguez v. Proffitt. In October 2008, Daniel assisted New York partners Bill Carmody and Shawn Rabin in prosecuting and, ultimately, settling a lawsuit involving a drunk-driving collision. Years before, a drunk driver, driving the wrong direction on a highway, struck a hotel van transporting a family to the airport. A young girl was killed and members of the family were severely injured. The surviving family members hired Susman Godfrey to bring a lawsuit against wrong doers. Susman Godfrey filed a complaint against the two bars where the driver had consumed alcohol. A key component of the case involved complex insurance-related issues. Daniel led the Susman Godfrey team in the area of analyzing insurance questions and played a key role in the mediation and settlement of the case. The value of these significant settlements are confidential. John Titcomb of Huntington, New York, a client and father of the family, said this about Daniel and Susman Godfrey after the suit had concluded:
Due to our difficult circumstances, I have been at a loss as to how to convey our deepest gratitude to you for the manner and expertise in handling our case both personally and professionally. Your understanding and compassion for our tragedy aided us in getting through a devastating period of time. As we continue to try to recover, we will be eternally grateful for the support that you provided.
IB-US Stone, L.P. v. ChemTreat, Inc. In May 2008, Daniel worked with Houston partner J. Hoke “Trey” Peacock III to pursue claims on behalf of a company whose imported, precision equipment had been damaged by the company hired to care for it. Daniel handled the discovery efforts, including the investigative efforts at the factory, wrote winning briefs, and argued successful motions in pursuit of the client’s claims. Daniel and Trey mediated the case to settlement. But, when the settlement funds arrived missing roughly $1 million, Daniel led the effort to obtain full payment by initiating arbitration against the settling defendant. Ultimately, the settlement funded, plus costs and interest, to the satisfaction of the client. The well-respected mediator and arbitrator, Alan Levin, recalled Daniel’s “keen intellect, excellent preparation and dedication” when making this comment about Daniel:
You did an outstanding job the result of which was to your client’s great advantage. You have a bright future in the practice of law and in life as you are a fine person.
Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A. In April 2008, Daniel, working with Dallas partner Barry Barnett, obtained a temporary restraining order that saved Neiman Marcus $500 million in lost sales. The temporary restraining order for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stopped HSBC from terminating more than 192,000 existing Neiman Marcus private label credit card accounts and from making requirements for obtaining or retaining new accounts more onerous. HSBC claimed to have authority under its contract to implement the changes without our clients’ consent. With the TRO in place, Neiman Marcus and HSBC engaged in negotiations, which resulted in an agreement that resolved the dispute to Neiman Marcus’s satisfaction, and the parties returned to business.
Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation v. Lasserre. In July 2007, Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation came to believe that a former employee had left to join a competitor. Hertz hired Susman Godfrey to stop the employee from bringing trade secrets to the new employer. Working with Houston partner Eric Mayer, Daniel drafted the petition, the application for temporary and injunctive relief, and motions for expedited discovery. Daniel argued the application for the temporary restraining order, obtaining the immediate protection for his client. After securing the temporary restraining order, Daniel took the lead with accelerated discovery in advance of the temporary injunction hearing, including immediate depositions and forensic captures of key computers. Quickly, as a result of the suit, Hertz obtained a permanent injunction to protect its interests along with all of its sensitive materials.
CitiFinancial, Inc. v. Lightner. In June 2007, Daniel authored the appellate answer in opposition to a petition for permission to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The appellate activity followed a successful motion to remand and various associated briefs, all principally authored and argued by Daniel in conjunction with co-counsel. Partners Terry Oxford and Jonathan Bridges can speak to Daniel’s work on this complex consumer-protection class action.
Underhill v. Avco Corporation. In February 2007, Daniel joined a Susman Godfrey trial team to prosecute wrongful death claims on behalf of the widow and children of an aspiring airplane pilot. During a week-long jury trial, the Susman Godfrey team demonstrated that the pilot’s death resulted from the introduction of deadly exhaust fumes into the aircraft’s cabin due to negligent aircraft maintenance by relating technical aspects of aircraft maintenance to the jury. The jury returned a $1.8 million verdict in favor of the family-member plaintiffs. Following trial, the parties settled for a confidential amount. Daniel participated in all aspects of the week-long pretrial conference, trial briefing, preparing witnesses, and assisting in voir dire and opening statements. In addition to Daniel, the Susman Godfrey trial team consisted of Bill Carmody, Jonathan Bridges, and former SG attorney Gretchen Sween.
Daniel maintains good standing with the Texas Bar, the Virginia Bar, and the District of Columbia Bar.
- Optima Oil & Gas Co., LLC v. Mewbourne Oil Co., No. 11-6230, 2012 WL 5201475 (10th Cir. Oct. 23, 2012) (affirming dismissal of all claims against client, Mewbourne Oil Company).
- Behrend v. Comcast Corp., 655 F.3d 182 (3d Cir. 2011) (affirming certification of class of roughly two million greater-Philadelphia cable subscribers asserting antitrust claims against Comcast).
- Brady v. Kosmos Energy, Ltd. (In re Kosmos Energy, Ltd. Securities Litigation), No. 3:12-cv-0373, 2012 WL 6204247 (N.D. Tex. July 10, 2012) (denying plaintiffs’ motions to remand).
- In re Crude Oil Commodity Futures Litigation,--- F. Supp. 2d ----, No. 11-cv-3600(WHP), 2012 WL 6645728 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2012) (denying defendants motion to dismiss and permitting class actions claims to proceed) (SG serves as co-lead counsel for the class).
- Optima Oil & Gas Co., LLC v. Mewbourne Oil Co., No. 09-cv-145, 2011 WL 3444276 (W.D. Okla. Aug. 8, 2011) (dismissing all claims against client, Mewbourne Oil Company, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction).
- Optima Oil & Gas Co., LLC v. Mewbourne Oil Co., No. 09-cv-145, 2010 WL 2891684 (W.D. Okla. July 21, 2010) (granting in part and denying in part opposition’s motion for issue preclusion).
- Vista Exploration Co. v. Mewbourne Oil Co., No. 10-cv-213, 2010 WL 1980196 (W.D. Okla. May 17, 2010) (dismissing all claims against client, Mewbourne Oil Company, because plaintiff was not a legally viable entity and could not maintain suit).
- Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., No. 09-cv-01240 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 18, 2010) (remanding action to Texas state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction after removal by opponent, Wachovia Bank, N.A.)
- Behrend v. Comcast Corp., No. 2:03-cv-06604-JP, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1049; 2010-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P76,869 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 7, 2010) (re-certifying class of roughly two million greater-Philadelphia cable subscribers asserting antitrust claims against Comcast after a four-day evidentiary hearing applying In re Hydrogen Peroxide Antitrust Litig., 552 F.3d 305 (3d Cir. 2008)).
- Southgate Master Fund v. United States, 651 F. Supp. 2d 596; 2009-2U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P50,593; 104 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 6053 (N.D. Tex. 2009) (following a 15-day bench trial, findings of fact and conclusions of law issued on a tax case involving a $1.1 billion deduction and significant penalties by the IRS).
- Behrend v. Comcast Corp., 626 F. Supp. 2d 495; 2009-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P76,655 (E.D. Pa. 2009) (denying defendants’ motion to strike expert testimony in class action asserting antitrust claims against Comcast).
- Atlas Venture I, LLC and Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP v. Wachovia Bank, N.A., Bank of America, N.A., U.S. Bank, as trustee for Maiden Lane Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Trust 2008-1, Maiden Lane Mortgage-Backed Securities Trust 2008-1, Blackrock Financial Management, Inc., and Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending, Inc., No. 09-07058 (116th District Court, Dallas County, Texas June 5, 2009) (granting temporary restraining order to stop $7.4 billion transaction and protect $164 million investment by client, Ashford Hospitality Finance, LP).
- Ideal Capital Ltd. Partnership v. C&C North America, Inc., No. 4:08-cv-02239, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38202 (S.D. Tex. May 4, 2009) (granting summary judgment in favor of client, C&C North America, in a suit involving options to purchase preferred stock).
- Smithback v. Crain, No. 07-10274, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 4493 (5th Cir. Mar. 5, 2009) (summary calendar) (affirming summary judgment against Texas state prisoner in a pro bono representation).
- State ex rel. CitiFinancial, Inc. v. Madden, 223 W. Va. 229; 672 S.E.2d 365 (W. Va. 2008) (reversing denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a class action in West Virginia against CitiFinancial, Inc. relating to credit insurance rates).
- Counter Active, Inc. v. Tacom, L.P., No. 0:07-cv-03163, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22669 (D. Minn. Mar. 21, 2008) (dismissing multiple claims against client, Tacom, L.P., in a suit involving breach of contract and franchise act claims between distributor and retailer).
- CitiFinancial, Inc. v. Lightner, No. 5:06-cv-145, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78647 (N.D.W. Va. Oct. 22, 2007) (denying defendant’s motion to stay remand order in a class action in West Virginia against CitiFinancial, Inc. relating to credit insurance rates).
- Behrend v. Comcast Corp., No. 2:03-cv-06604-JP, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75186; 2007-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P75,912 (E.D.Pa. Oct. 9, 2007) (certifying class of roughly two million greater-Chicago cable subscribers asserting antitrust claims against Comcast).
- Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation v. Lasserre, No. 2007-46896, (80th District Court, Harris County, Texas Aug. 16, 2007) (granting temporary restraining order in favor of client, Hertz Equipment Rental Corp., in trade secrets case).
- Behrend v. Comcast Corp., 532 F. Supp. 2d 735; 2007-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P75,817 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (denying motion for judgment on the pleadings for Philadelphia and Chicago classes under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), and motion to dismiss the Boston class claims in class action asserting antitrust claims against Comcast).
- CitiFinancial, Inc. v. Lightner, No. 5:06-cv-145, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41338 (N.D.W. Va. June 6, 2007) (granting motion to remand and denying motion to realign in a class action in West Virginia against CitiFinancial, Inc. relating to credit insurance rates).
- Behrend v. Comcast Corp., 245 F.R.D. 195; 69 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 50; 2007-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P75,696 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (certifying class of roughly two million greater-Philadelphia cable subscribers asserting antitrust claims against Comcast).
- Glaberson v. Comcast Corp., No. 2:03-cv-06604-JP, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91990; 2006-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P75,532 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 19, 2006) (denying motion to dismiss for bothPhiladelphia andChicago classes in class action asserting antitrust claims against Comcast).