Persuading a panel of appellate judges is different from persuading a jury. It requires a different set of skills. And the stakes are often higher because the court’s opinion will not only decide the case, but also may set a precedent to govern other cases.
Members of our Appellate Team have spent years developing the analytical, writing and oral-argument skills necessary to persuade appellate judges. Before appeal, while the case is still in the trial court, we work with trial lawyers to develop a case’s legal theory, write dispositive motions, craft jury instructions and - most important - preserve issues for appellate review. We know appellate procedure - when and how to take an issue to an appeals court - and we work strategically, using our knowledge of the rules to give our clients the best chance of winning.
- We argued and won the motion to dismiss and resulting appeal in a lawsuit the New York Times called “The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever.” The case—Board of Commissioners v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., 850 F.3d 714 (5th Cir. 2017)—was a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil-and-gas companies.
- We achieved a precedent-setting victory in the U.S. Fifth Circuit when the court held that unassessed regulatory penalties are not “obligations” under the False Claims Act. U.S. ex rel. Simoneaux v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 843 F.3d 1033 (5th Cir. 2016).
- In an appeal we took to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the court reversed a $330 million jury award in a precedent-setting victory for a major pharmaceutical company. Caldwell v. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc., 144 So.3d 898 (La. 2014).
- We briefed and argued on behalf of all defendants in a Fifth Circuit case in which the court denied class certification of claims arising from the construction of a drainage canal. Crutchfield v. Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, 829 F.3d 370 (5th Cir. 2016).
- Our work resulted in a state appeals court’s reducing an $8 million punitive-damage award to $2.37 million, after which the Louisiana Supreme Court completely reversed the award of punitive damages. Oleszkowicz v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 129 So.3d 1272 (La. App. 5th Cir. 2013), reversed in part, 156 So.3d 645 (La. 2015).
We write briefs that judges tell us are excellent, and when we stand before a judge for an oral argument, we know the record, the law, and the judge’s thought processes. Our clients have ranged from individuals to Fortune 500 companies in a range of industries, including insurance, energy, pharmaceuticals and product manufacturing. We have also represented administrative agencies and other governmental bodies.
“We have great respect for appellate judges and know how they think, not simply from reading scores of opinions and attending CLE seminars, but from working alongside them on CLE presentations and community projects.” – Martin Stern, Appellate Team Leader
Leaders in Appellate Practice
We serve as leaders in the field of appellate practice. We have held leadership positions for the Louisiana State Bar Association Appellate Section, the Alabama State Bar Association Appellate Section, the New Orleans Bar Association Appellate Practice Committee, the Appellate Practice Advisory Commission of the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization, the Steering Committee of the Eleventh Circuit Appellate Practice Institute and the DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee. We have written and edited appellate practice materials and publications for the Appellate Practice Compendium, a publication of the ABA’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, A Defense Lawyer’s Guide to Appellate Practice, published by DRI, Scribes Journal of Legal Writing and the Louisiana Civil Appeals blog.
- Administrative law
- Class actions
- Financial institutions
- Oil and gas
- Punitive damages
• Reversal of a trial court’s decision in a bank-versus-bank case, restoring the priority of our client’s lien on real estate. Community Trust Bank v. First National Bank of Clarksdale, 150 So.3d 683 (Miss. 2014).
• Reversal of a $15.2 million personal-injury verdict against a chemical company in a drilling-mud asbestos-exposure case. Phillips 66 Co. v. Lofton, 94 So.3d 1051 (Miss. 2012).
• Reversal of a punitive-damages award against a newspaper publisher in a libel case. West v. Morehead, 720 S.E.2d 495 (S.C. Ct. App. 2011).
• In a pro bono case, reversal of a death sentence and a holding that the U.S. Constitution does not permit the death penalty for a non-homicide crime. Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008).
• Reversal of a district court’s judgment and reinstatement of a state medical board’s disciplinary action against a physician involving his treatment of 11 patients. In re Aggrieved Practitioner, 231 So.3d 761 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. Nov. 15, 2017), writ denied, 2018 WL 852209, 2018 La. LEXIS 392 (La. Feb. 9, 2018).