My clients are primarily in-house lawyers at Fortune 500 companies, and they say my proven track record is the reason they hire me. They pick lawyers by talking to other in-house counsel and lawyers they trust in the jurisdiction, and they find out who has won appeals, whose petitions for certiorari have been granted by the state Supreme Court, and who has earned the respect of judges generally. Fortunately, I’m on a short list of Louisiana lawyers to be considered.
The Firm’s General Counsel and Appellate Team Leader, Martin Stern focuses his practice on appellate litigation, complex litigation, and legal ethics and legal malpractice defense, and he is also active in pro bono representation.
Martin has handled hundreds of appeals, including in each of the Louisiana circuit courts of appeal and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and he has argued a dozen times to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Martin is one of 15 lawyers certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization as Appellate Practice Specialists. In his most recent argument to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Martin represented fellow Appellate Practice Specialists as amici on an important issue involving the right to appeal. In another recent matter, Martin served as an expert witness in the field of appellate litigation, where his opinion was quoted at length in the court of appeal’s decision. Henry v. Ahern, 335 So.3d 871 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2022).
The following are some of the cases Martin has argued:
- Representation of an oil and gas company in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s most recent decision on Act 312, the statute that governs landowners’ claims for environmental damage from oil and gas operations. Agreeing to overrule its earlier decision in the same case as “palpable error,” the Supreme Court held that absent an express contractual provision, a landowner’s remedy is restricted to a regulatory cleanup. State v. Louisiana Land & Explor. Co., 2020-C-00685 (La. 6/01/22), __ So.3d __, 2022 WL 1771757.
- Representation of an insurer in winning the novel issue before the Louisiana Supreme Court that forum selection clauses in insurance policies do not violate Louisiana law. Creekstone Juban I, L.L.C. v. XL Ins. Am., Inc., 282 So. 3d 1042 (La. 2019).
- Representation of an oil and gas company in winning dismissal of claims brought by a levee board asserting coastal land loss in what the New York Times Magazine described as “The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever.” Bd. of Comm’rs of Se. La. Flood Prot. Auth.-E. v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 850 F.3d 714 (5th Cir. 2017).
- Representation of a pharmaceutical company in winning dismissal of claims brought by Louisiana Attorney General in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s first case interpreting the Medical Assistance Program Integrity Law (“MAPIL”), the state analogue to the False Claims Act. Caldwell v. Janssen Pharm., Inc., 144 So. 3d 898 (La. 2014).
- Representation of a major oil and gas company in persuading the Louisiana Supreme Court to reject expansion of an exception to the law of res judicata. Oleszkowicz v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 138 So. 3d 1234 (La. 2014).
- Pro bono representation of a criminal defendant in which the U.S. Supreme Court announced its landmark holding that the death penalty is unconstitutional for most non-homicide crimes. State v. Kennedy, 957 So. 2d 757 (La. 2007), rev'd, 554 U.S. 407 (2008), as modified on denial of reh'g, 554 U.S. 945 (2008). Martin argued to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Representative matters include defending a tobacco company in a class action trial, defending a major energy company against multiple suits based on alleged exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material (“NORM”), and defending several pharmaceutical companies against claims brought by the State Attorney General. In the NORM litigation, Martin led the effort to successfully defeat class certification and won an affirmance on appeal. Pollard v. Alpha Tech., 31 So. 3d 576 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2010). Later, when plaintiffs filed a mass action, Martin defeated remand to state court on a question of first impression under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). Lester v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 879 F.3d 582 (5th Cir. 2018).
Legal Malpractice and Legal Ethics
Martin has represented judges before the Louisiana State Judiciary Commission and lawyers before the Louisiana State Disciplinary Board, for which he formerly served as Hearing Committee Chair. In his position as General Counsel for the Firm, Martin supervises the areas of loss prevention and legal ethics internally, and he has a growing practice representing other firms against claims of legal malpractice. Martin recently won the complete dismissal of a law firm in a case applying the test for whether an attorney-client relationship exists. Barkerding v. Whittaker, 263 So.3d 1170 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2018), writ den. 267 So.3d 607 (La. 2019). And in the 2022 Louisiana legislative session, Martin played a key role in drafting an amendment to La. R.S. 9:5605.2, so that the statute now sets forth the “collectability rule,” i.e., a client’s recovery in a legal malpractice action is limited to what would have been the maximum amount of damages that the client could have collected in the client's underlying action.
Martin is past director of both the national and Louisiana chapters of Appleseed, a nonprofit organization that attacks injustice at its root cause, which The American Lawyer called “pro bono’s new frontier.” He received the national Appleseed’s Evelyn Singer Award and New Orleans CityBusiness named him to “Leadership in Law” for spearheading the reestablishment of Louisiana Appleseed after Hurricane Katrina. In 2016, Martin was honored with the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Catherine D. Kimball Award for a project culminating in the state Supreme Court’s adoption of a rule allowing lawyers to earn CLE credit for pro bono representation.
“ Companies increasingly see the value in retaining counsel whose focus is on appellate litigation, because what works before the trial court could be a misstep before a court of appeal. ”
- Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1985
- University of Texas, B.A., 1981
- District of Columbia
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- Louisiana Supreme Court
Areas of Practice
- AV® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- Best Lawyers® - Appellate Practice, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions - Defendants
- Best Lawyers®, "Lawyer of the Year," Appellate Law, 2017
- Louisiana Super Lawyers® (by Thomson Reuters) Top Rated Appellate Attorney in New Orleans, 2022
- Louisiana Super Lawyers® (by Thomson Reuters) Class Action/Mass Torts, Appellate 2009-2019, 2021-2022
- Louisiana Appleseed “Good Apple Award, 2016”
- Benchmark Litigation® – Local Litigation Star (Louisiana)
- Louisiana State Bar Association, Catherine D. Kimball Award for the Advancement of the Administration of Justice 2016
- New Orleans' Top Lawyers, New Orleans Magazine, 2017, 2020
Professional Affiliations & Memberships
- American Bar Association
- Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit, Board of Governors
- Defense Research Institute
- Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel
- Louisiana State Bar Association
- Louisiana Appleseed, Former Member, Board of Directors
- New Orleans Bar Association, Appellate Section Co-Chair