Breach of Contract

July 2018

  • In June 2018, Susman Godfrey secured a $25.25 million jury verdict on behalf of Steven Lamar against rapper, Dr. Dre, and music mogul, Jimmy Iovine, over royalties Lamar he believed he was owed for his role in creating the iconic Beats headphones.  Lamar filed the suit in 2014 claiming that a 2007 royalty agreement required Dr. Dre and Iovine to pay royalties on the sale of every Beats headphone modeled after the original “Studio” design. The trial court initially granted summary judgment to Dr. Dre and Iovine, but a 2016 decision by the California Court of Appeal in the Second Appellate District reversed that and remanded it back for trial where the Susman Godfrey trial team convinced the jury that Lamar was owed money for his contribution to the Beats headphone’s success.
  • In March 2018, Susman Godfrey secured a jury verdict of $706.2 million for client HouseCanary in a misappropriation of trade secret and breach of contract case related to HouseCanary’s innovative technology for valuation, appraisal and real estate analytics.  At the conclusion of the six week trial, a 12-person jury found unanimously in favor of HouseCanary, awarding HouseCanary $706.2 million against Title Source, an affiliate of Quicken Loans, now known as AMROCK, Inc, on counterclaims in this high-stakes legal battle.   The verdict was approved and finalized in October 2018 when a final amount of nearly $740 million was awarded which included prejudgment interest, attorneys’ fees.
  • In 2017, Susman Godfrey client, Wellstat Therapeutics, was awarded an estimated $70 million against BTG International, Inc. in a pharmaceutical contract dispute in the Delaware Court of Chancery.  In the lawsuit, Wellstat sued BTG over the marketing of Vistogard®, a life-saving drug designed to serve as an antidote for over-exposure to certain types of chemotherapy for which Wellstat developed and obtained FDA approval.  Wellstat signed a distribution agreement with BTG that obligated BTG to commercialize and market the drug over a 10-year period.  Under the agreement, BTG was supposed to use “diligent efforts.” At conclusion of trial, the judge ruled in favor of Wellstat, finding that BTG had breached the agreement in various ways.  Further, he found no validity to BTG’s claims.
  • In October 2016, after a two week trial, a federal jury awarded $43,214,515.83 in favor of Susman Godfrey client Apache Deepwater. The jury unanimously found that W&T Offshore breached its contractual obligation to pay its 49% share of the costs to plug and abandon three deep-water sub-sea oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Apache Deepwater (affiliate of Apache Corporation) had a 51% interest in the three wells and was the designated operator.  W&T had a 49% interest in the wells and was the non-operator.  Apache used drilling rigs successfully and safely to plug and abandon the three deep-water wells in compliance with federal regulations, and invoiced W&T for its 49% share of the costs.  Although federal law and the contract required the wells to be plugged and abandoned, W&T refused to sign Apache’s Authorizations for Expenditure or pay its share of the costs because it objected to Apache’s use of drilling rigs.  W&T had wanted Apache to use what evidence showed was a more risky intervention vessel that would be less expensive.  Despite a finding of bad faith and $17 million offset, Apache is confident that these findings are of no legal consequence under controlling Louisiana law and expects to recover the full $43.2 million amount of the verdict, plus $24.8 million that Apache already recovered from W&T after filing this lawsuit, plus millions more in interest and attorney’s fees.
  • In 2014, Susman Godfrey client Wade Johnson signed a favorable confidential settlement ending six years of hard fought litigation against a prominent investment bank. Mr. Johnson had signed a finder’s fee contract entitling him to fees in the event of investment in or acquisition of a start-up financial services company. In a AAA arbitration, Susman Godfrey overcame arguments that Mr. Johnson was an unregistered broker-dealer and that his indirect introduction did not entitle him to fees under the contract’s terms. Following an arbitration Award granting Mr. Johnson both a flat fee and a going-forward percentage, Susman Godfrey was forced to engage in extensive litigation regarding the terms of the Award in the New York Supreme Court on cross-motions to vacate and confirm the arbitration award. Susman Godfrey prevailed in the trial court, and the case settled shortly after Susman Godfrey argued the case on appeal.
  • In December 2014, Susman Godfrey won a federal court jury trial for Apache Corporation and defeated a $20 million breach of contract and other claims brought by W&T Offshore, Inc.  After a two week trial, the jury took less than an hour to find that Apache did not breach the parties’ contract, and to reject W&T’s other claims.  Susman Godfrey won a 3-0 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirming its win in the district court, and collected over $100,000 in costs from W&T.
  • In 2010, Susman Godfrey obtained a summary judgment in New York Supreme Court in a breach of contract action against Ronald O. Perelman brought on behalf of Applehead Pictures, a movie development company, to enforce Mr. Perelman’s obligation to make capital contributions to the company. Susman Godfrey then successfully defended that judgment on appeal to the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, First Department.
  • Also in 2010, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a $17 million dollar verdict for breach of contract on behalf of a class of California telephone consumers against AT&T that Susman Godfrey tried for six weeks before a jury in federal court in Kansas City. Prior to trial, Sprint reached a settlement with the plaintiff class worth $25 million in phone cards.
  • Susman Godfrey negotiated an amicable resolution to a licensing agreement dispute between client Tracey Technologies Corp. and Advanced Medical Optics, Inc.  The terms of the resolution are confidential, except that the parties issued a joint press release in which they announced that “AMO will have a world-wide, non-exclusive license to Tracey Technologies’ ray tracing wavefront technology under a new licensing agreement.”
  • Susman Godfrey successfully defended ABB Lummus Global, Inc. and its joint venture with Heerema Zwindrecht, which built and delivered a $700 million offshore exploration and development platform, in a multi-million-dollar construction dispute with one of the project’s subcontractors. Plaintiff sought over $5 million for alleged breaches of the parties’ subcontract. The case was arbitrated before a three-member panel in June 2006 pursuant to the UNCITRAL rules. Susman Godfrey fully prevailed for its client. The panel rejected all of the Plaintiff’s claims and Susman Godfrey succeeded in obtaining an award of attorneys’ fees and costs for its client.