Richard W. Hess
Partner
Houston Office Phone: (713) 653-7858 Email Download vCard Print Bio to PDF
Education
  • Emory University (B.A., History and Political Science, 1995)
  • The University of Chicago Law School (J.D., with honors, 2004)
Judicial Clerkship

Law Clerk to The Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (2004-05)

My clients include both plaintiffs and defendants engaged in nearly every type of civil litigation. My practice spans a wide variety of cases:  from helping False Claims Act whistleblowers against hospitals and medical device companies, to representing class members and defendants in class action litigation, to assisting corporations and professionals embroiled in compensation and other business disputes.

A typical case for me is in a federal district court, but my work takes me to state trial courts, state and federal appeals courts, hearings before single and multiple arbitrators and even probate court. I have appeared and argued in court in Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and of course, in Texas.

I like to advise a diverse range of clients, from the largest corporations to startups, individual entrepreneurs and inventors, business executives and doctors. My clients have in the past included Intellectual Ventures, Wal-Mart, Walmart.com, KBR, Inc., LyondellBasell Industries, NV, Forest Oil Corp., Amegy Bank, Stealth BioTherapeutics, Key Energy, Enterprise Products Operating LP, TMZ, The Hobby Center Foundation, Apache Corp., Clinical Pharmacology of Miami and many others.

In January 2016, my partners appointed me as Susman Godfrey’s first General Counsel. So, in addition to my practice, I currently advise the firm and over 100 partners and associates in our four offices around the country.

I have served as lead counsel in a week-long private arbitration in New York, and have examined and cross-examined expert and fact witnesses in trials and arbitrations around the country. I advised the board of one of the nation’s largest medical device manufacturers as Counsel to its Special Litigation Committee. And I won—in a Texas state court—summary judgment for client TMZ and its host Harvey Levin in a defamation case brought against the entertainment news giant by the mother of the late model/actress Anna Nicole Smith.

In addition to my trial and arbitration hearing work, I have argued all types of court hearings, including motions to dismiss, discovery disputes, Daubert hearings, and temporary restraining orders. I have also successfully petitioned the Texas Supreme Court, obtaining extraordinary relief for a client and stopping runaway litigation in a jurisdiction considered by some to be a "judicial hellhole." The magazines Texas Monthly and Texas Law & Politics (Thomson Reuters) named me a Texas "Rising Star" five times.

Since joining the firm, I have worked on cases involving False Claims Act lawsuits, patent infringement, pharmaceutical licensing and manufacturing disputes, embezzlement, defamation, breach of contract, and computer fraud, as well as a variety of business torts, partnership disputes, and stock option disputes.

I am admitted to practice in every U.S. District Court in Texas, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth and Federal Circuits, and every state court in Texas.

Honors and Distinctions
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Member, The University of Chicago Law Review, 2002-2004
  • Thomas R. Mulroy Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy (2004)
  • Finalist, Hinton Moot Court Competition (2004)
  • Winner, Karl Llewellyn Memorial Cup
  • Named, Texas Super Lawyers' Rising Star by Law & Politics, as published by Thomson Reuters (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014)
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Articles

Note: No Fair Play for Millionaires? McCain-Feingold's Wealthy Candidate Restrictions and the First Amendment, 70 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1067 (2003).

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Professional Associations and Memberships

State Bar of Texas
Houston Bar Association
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Judicial Circuit

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Notable Representation

TMIRS Enterprises, Ltd. v. GoDaddy.com, Inc. et al.
I was lead attorney for The Planet.com, the world's leading internet server hosting provider, in a lawsuit alleging defamation, conspiracy, business disparagement, and trade name infringement. After removing the case to federal court, we obtained a dismissal with prejudice for The Planet without filing a motion and before plaintiff obtained any discovery.

FLOORgraphics, Inc. v. News America Marketing
With Jim Southwick and co-counsel at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, I represented an in-store advertising company in a lawsuit against its principal competitor, News America Marketing, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Susman Godfrey took over the case in 2005 after News successfully disqualified FLOORgraphics' previous counsel. FLOORgraphics then amended its complaint to assert violations of the federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, the Lanham Act, and claims for business disparagement/trade libel, theft of trade secrets, and other common-law business torts. FLOORgraphics defeated News' motion to dismiss, defeated News' multiple motions for summary judgment, and defeated News' attempt to strike FLOORgraphics' experts on damages, computer forensics, and in-store advertising audit methodology. Following one week of trial in federal court in Trenton, NJ and after FLOORgraphics had presented its first three witnesses, the parties settled the dispute for a confidential amount. I encourage you to contact George Rebh, Vice President of FLOORgraphics, Inc., as a reference (609-514-0404), or call me for other references.

Virgie Arthur v. TMZ Productions, Inc.
With Harry Susman, I represented entertainment news giant TMZ.com and its executive producer Harvey Levin in defense of a defamation and conspiracy lawsuit brought by the mother of deceased Hollywood celebrity Anna Nicole Smith. TMZ and Levin moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the challenged news story was substantially true. The court granted the motion in its entirety before our clients were deposed.

Sim-Tex LP v. Angela Petters et al.
Along with Jonathan Ross, I represent a leading Texas pipe wholesaler in civil litigation against its former employee, who embezzled over $2 million over several years. On the morning of her arrest, I successfully argued and obtained a TRO against the employee and her current and former spouse. Susman Godfrey recovered a substantial percentage of the stolen assets for its client. The former employee was sentenced to several years in jail. I encourage you to contact Chuck Scianna, President of Sim-Tex, as a reference (713-450-3940), or call me for other references.

Spreadsheet Automation Corp. v. Microsoft Corp.
Along with Steve and Harry Susman, I represented Spreadsheet Automation Corp., the owner of a patent for simplifying spreadsheet and database functions. The team efficiently worked the case, and I handled all of the depositions and assisted with the Markman briefing and argument. After a favorable claims construction, this case settled on the eve of trial for a confidential sum.

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