Susman Godfrey has deep experience in construction disputes and a long history of success for our clients. Our construction clients run the full spectrum inside and outside of the industry — from owners and employers, contractors and sub-contractors, municipal entities, designers, and engineers, to the companies who hire these players for their construction needs.
We represent clients on both sides of the docket—in trials and arbitrations, settlement negotiations, and on appeal; and have extensive experience in resolving the full range of claims that can arise before, during and after construction projects. We have an in-depth familiarity with the construction industry and its framework. Our lawyers are adept at breaking down the issues into comprehensible and digestible facts so clients, opposing counsel, judges, juries, and arbitration panels can easily follow our persuasive and logical arguments.
REPRESENTATIVE CONSTRUCTION MATTERS
- ABB Lummus Global, Inc. Matter. Successfully defended ABB Lummus Global, 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. The case was arbitrated before a three-member panel pursuant to the UNCITRAL rules. We fully prevailed for our client. The panel rejected all of the plaintiff’s claims and we succeeded in obtaining an award of attorneys’ fees and costs for ABB.
- Westlake Chemical Corporation v. James Construction Group, LLC and Primoris Services Corp. Secured a winning verdict for Westlake Chemical Corporation following a contentious jury trial. Westlake brought its case after a series of contractor safety issues, including a fatality, led the chemical company to remove James Construction’s mechanical group from a $400-million-plus construction project, resulting in delays and other costs. The jury ruled in favor of all of Westlake’s provisions, awarding more than $4.5 million to Westlake, and reducing the $15 million counterclaim to $1.2 million. Recently, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals upheld the $4.1 million award and vacated the $1.2 million counterclaim.
- LyondellBasell v. Allianz Insurance. Represented LyondellBasell in a business interruption insurance dispute in London arbitration. Lyondell sought coverage for losses caused by a hurricane, but faced a $200 million self-insured retention (deductible), which the insurers claimed exceeded any losses. We handled all coverage, accounting, and engineering issues (which included significant damage to refinery equipment and delays to turnaround construction projects). The case settled on confidential terms on the eve of the final arbitration hearing. LyondellBasell later publicly reported insurance settlement proceeds totaling more than $100 million.
- Engineers and Constructors, Inc. v. Gray Construction.Represented Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding subsidiary, Engineers and Constructors, Inc., in a $100 million construction dispute. With less than two hours’ notice, we defeated Gray Construction’s attempted TRO and beat back its efforts to disrupt our client’s construction project. After we stepped in, Mitsui was able to complete the construction project and negotiate a favorable, confidential settlement with Gray Construction.
- Dig Tech, Inc. v. Star Operations, Inc. and Great American Insurance Company. Tried and won a breach of contract lawsuit on behalf of Austin-based Dig Tech against San Antonio-based Star Operations. Dig Tech alleged that Star Operations agreed to pay for construction work on the State Highway 130 Tollway. Star Operations claimed it did not have to pay for the work because Dig Tech did not secure a signed contract. The jury ruled unanimously in favor of Dig Tech, and rejected counterclaims for fraud and tortious interference asserted by Star Operations. The case was later affirmed in appeals court.
- SM Energy et al v. Endeavour International. Defended Endeavour in a construction-related breach of contract case. SM Energy alleged that Endeavour had breached a contract to acquire a pipeline company and numerous oil and gas properties in Pennsylvania. We argued that Endeavour had a contractual right to terminate the contract without penalty because the pipeline was not constructed in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. The case settled shortly before trial.
- Houston Refining v. Deep South Crane. Represented a subsidiary of LyondellBasell in a $48 million suit arising from the collapse of one of the largest cranes in the world, which resulted in an extended shut down of refinery operations and delayed a major turnaround construction project. Before we were hired, the court ruled that the economic loss rule barred Lyondell from recovering lost profits— eliminating over 95% of the client’s damages. Our team persuaded the court to overturn its prior order, restoring Lyondell’s right to seek 100% of its damages. The case settled on confidential terms shortly before trial.
- Total Petrochemicals USA, Inc. v. Team Industries, Inc. Represented TOTAL Petrochemicals (“TOTAL”) in a dispute against Wisconsin-based Team Industries (“Team”), a subcontractor who fabricated pipe for TOTAL’s multi-billion-dollar expansion of its petrochemical facility in Port Arthur, Texas. TOTAL accused Team of improper billing for pipe fabrication on a $120 million contract, and Team accused TOTAL of underpaying on the contract. The case involved novel issues about how prices for labor and materials should be calculated under a “list and discount” pricing structure. The case also involved the interpretation and application of a “most favored nation” clause in the parties’ contract. The case settled on confidential terms.
- FMC International A.G. v. ABB Lummus Global Inc. Represented ABB Lummus Global Inc. in a $100+ million construction case. Our briefing resulted in dismissal of a tort cause of action on which FMC had based a $90 million damages claim. Later, another brief resulted in dismissal of a RICO cause of action on which FMC had based a claim for more than $25 million in damages. The court ultimately dismissed all of FMC’s claims in full.
- The Port of Port Arthur Navigation District vs. Lanier & Associates Consulting Engineers Inc. Represented the Port’s governing authority against several engineering and construction companies for negligent design and construction of large port facilities. Our team achieved favorable settlements following extensive discovery that allowed the Port to re-build the facilities.
- City of Austin et al. v. Houston Lighting & Power et al. Represented the City of Austin in a lawsuit alleging flawed construction and management practices that caused the South Texas Nuclear Project’s two reactors to be shut down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The case settled after all parties had rested and while the jury was deliberating.
- San Juan Gas Litigation. Defended Enron over allegations that a propane gas pipeline owned by Enron in San Juan, Puerto Rico leaked gas that accumulated in the basement of a commercial building and exploded, killing several and seriously injuring dozens. Our defense team focused on other possible causes of the explosion, which focused in large part on the construction of the building where the explosion took place and the damage to the structure. The matter settled in the immediate aftermath of Enron’s bankruptcy right before jury selection.