Alex Kaplan is a leading commercial trial and appellate lawyer and a member of Susman Godfrey’s Executive Committee. Kaplan represents clients in a wide range of antitrust, energy, financial, technology, and M&A related disputes. He also advises clients on internal and external investigation matters.
A gifted advocate, strategist, and analyst, Kaplan represents clients in their most complex and high-value disputes in courts across the US and domestic and international arbitrations. He has an impressive record of success, recovering more than $1.5 billion in settlements or judgments for plaintiff-side clients, and defeating exposures for multiples of that figure for defense-side clients. His wins have been reported in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The American Lawyer, Houston Chronicle, Texas Lawyer, and Law360.
Kaplan is “cool, calm, and capable of dominating extremely complicated cases,” and “simply smarter, faster, more aggressive (when appropriate) and more strategically astute than competitors.”
As quoted in Legal 500 2021 analysis
Clients and peers describe Kaplan as a “forceful advocate” (The Legal 500) and “extremely smart” (Benchmark Litigation). In its 2022 rankings, Chambers USA recognized Kaplan for his skill in antitrust matters, complex arbitrations, and class actions, with a client reporting that Kaplan “is a very good trial lawyer,” who provides “top-notch legal advice and good trial strategy, and he is also incredibly responsive.” He has received numerous other recognitions for his work:
- Selected by peers for The Best Lawyers in America (U.S. News) for commercial litigation (2017-2022)
- Selected by Benchmark Litigation for its “40 and Under Hot List” (2017-2020), a client and peer selected list of the “best and brightest law firm partners who stand out in their practices” and “frequently handle major cases”
- Named by The Legal 500 as a “Next Generation Partner” in both commercial disputes (2019 – 2020) and energy litigation (2019-2021)
- Selected by Law360 as a “Rising Star” in energy (2017), one of only five lawyers nationally (and the only litigator) to receive that honor, with Law360 reporting that Kaplan has “carved out his place in Houston’s litigation scene over the past several years through wins for big players.”
- Named to the Texas Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) list every year since 2013.
Kaplan excels at presenting complex matters in clear terms that resonate with judges, juries, and arbitrators. His writing has been featured in leading books on effective advocacy. A brief he wrote with Steve Susman in the securities litigation arising from Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch was featured in Point Made: How to Write Like the Nations’ Top Advocates (University of Chicago Press). And a Daubert motion he wrote for an actuarial malpractice case was described as “devastating,” an example of how to “frontload critical facts so that trial judges can assess the relevant issues quickly,” in The Art of Advocacy (Noah Messing, Yale Law School Writing Instructor).
Kaplan joined Susman Godfrey in 2005 and was elected to the partnership just four years later. Over his 15-plus years at Susman Godfrey, Kaplan has served in a number of roles, including as the youngest partner on the Executive Committee, National Hiring Partner, and Chair of the Docket Committee, responsible for staffing client engagements across all offices.
Before joining Susman Godfrey, Kaplan was a law clerk for Judge Jerry E. Smith on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He graduated with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was elected Editor in Chief of the Texas Law Review.
- Won summary judgment for Vitol, in federal court in San Juan, against claims by Puerto Rico’s electric power utility seeking to nullify six fuel-supply contracts and recover $3.89 billion in payments. The court also granted summary judgment for Vitol for the full amount of its counterclaim ($41.4 million). Kaplan was named “Litigator of the Week” by The American Lawyer for this landmark win. Read more in Law360 and Texas Lawbook.
- After a month-long trial, secured more than $300 million — one of the largest shareholder oppression recoveries in the U.S — for minority shareholders in Promega Corp., on claims related to control, governance, liquidity, and valuation. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge stated that she was “strongly leaning to find oppression here.” Successfully resolved the case, while the court was preparing its final judgment, with Promega acquiring our clients’ shares for a very substantial premium over the pre-suit redemption price and the valuation Promega argued at trial. (Texas Lawyer, Wisconsin State Journal reporting – filing, trial, and resolution)
- Won complete dismissal for Vitol of $10 billion antitrust case filed in federal court in Miami by a litigation trust, represented by David Boies, asserting claims on behalf of the Venezuelan national oil company. Susman Godfrey was tapped to take the lead in briefing and arguing the motion to dismiss for the multi-party joint defense group, and Kaplan led the firm’s work on this matter. Dismissal affirmed by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. (Wall Street Journal, Law360)
- Won $19.4 million final award (100% of damages sought, plus interest) for Eni Petroleum in International Centre for Dispute Resolution arbitration over cost allocation among working-interest partners for deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil exploration and production activities under joint operating agreement.
- Won defense verdict, after four-week jury trial, in $40 million dispute over ownership of Water Exploration Co. and later won unanimous decision in the Texas Supreme Court reinstating the jury’s verdict after the trial court granted the plaintiffs a new trial. Plaintiffs recovered nothing and paid our client’s costs. (Texas Lawyer, Law360)
- Won complete defense award for Solaris Midstream in International Centre for Dispute Resolution arbitration arising from the potential acquisition and development of Permian Basin ranch property. The claimant asserted contract, joint venture, and trade secret claims and sought more than $100 million in lost profits and other damages. The arbitrator entered a final award that the claimant recover nothing on its claims and awarded fees and costs to Solaris.
- 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. This was reported by the Columbia Law Review as the first finding of municipal liability for constitutional violations attributable to forensic misconduct. (Houston Chronicle, NPR, New York Times).
- Won judgment as trial counsel for Walmart, after bench trial in federal court, holding that Texas laws that bar public companies from retailing liquor were unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause and Equal Protection Clause. (Opinion; Austin American Statesman, Texas Tribune). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit disagreed and reversed.
- Secured confidential recovery (ultimately disclosed in SEC filing as more than $100 million) for LyondellBassell Industries in London arbitration over business interruption losses arising from Hurricane Ike. The case settled on the eve of the final evidentiary hearing after winning key disputes regarding certain insurance coverage and claim quantification issues.
- Obtained $45 million settlement for Milwaukee County and its public employee retirement system after three weeks of trial in federal court in highly-publicized actuarial malpractice case against Mercer. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The settlement was reported to be the largest professional negligence settlement in Wisconsin history and one of the largest settlements nationally from an actuary.
- Obtained $40 million settlement for the City of Houston in an actuarial malpractice case against Towers Watson & Co. related to its actuarial advice on pension benefit changes for the Houston Firefighters Retirement Fund.
- Secured confidential settlement during trial for Chevron Phillips Chemical as plaintiff after presenting our case-in-chief in contract dispute with freight-forwarding and logistics company over foreign-exchange conversion fees on international shipments.
- Secured confidential settlement for private equity firm, after final submissions of evidence and arguments, in a complex earnout arbitration before Deloitte (as independent accounting referee) arising from the sale of a large tax-services business.
- Successfully represented Freeman Holdings in litigation to enforce preferential right to purchase certain acreage from Exxon on favorable terms, triggered by Exxon’s $1.5 billion sale of properties to Denbury Resources. (Law360).
- Successfully defended Concho Resources against lease termination claims by surface owner and lessor of 60,000 plus acre ranch in the Permian Basin.
- Successfully represented the Rockstar consortium (owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, and Sony) in obtaining $900 million settlement of patent infringement suit against Google on foundational search patents acquired from Nortel (Reuters).
- Selected by trial court judge to serve as neutral mediator in complex, multi-party energy trading dispute, with competing contract, indemnity, and insurance claims. After years of unresolved litigation, Kaplan facilitated negotiation and successful resolution of all claims in just a few weeks.
- Representing Vitol in antitrust suit filed by the California Attorney General in San Francisco and related class action (In Re California Gasoline Spot Market Antitrust Litigation) arising from the trading of gasoline and related products.
- Representing major provider of automotive dealership management systems in complex antitrust arbitration in Chicago.
- Defending EnerVest in litigation in South Texas over disputed royalty and back-in after payout interest on oil and gas properties in the Eagle Ford.
In addition to his law practice, Kaplan currently serves as a member of the University of Texas School of Law Alumni Executive Committee and a director of the Texas Law Review Association. Kaplan has also taught as an adjunct law professor (civil procedure) at the University of Houston Law Center and has served in numerous leadership and volunteer roles for the Houston Bar Association, including arbitrating matters for the Fee Disputes Committee, co-chairing the Speakers Bureau, planning the Civil Bench-Bar conference, and teaching public school students about the Rule of Law.