Appellate & Written ...

Appellate & Written Advocacy

In the 1950s, our firm was formed when Butler and Snow joined with O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada to prosecute the biggest officer’s and directors’ liability case Mississippi had ever seen. We represented a company in a lawsuit against its former president for misappropriation of a corporate opportunity. Our client prevailed when we persuaded the Mississippi Supreme Court to reverse a chancery court judgment in the president’s favor. The decision laid the foundation for Mississippi corporate governance law, Knox Glass Bottle Co. v. Underwood, 89 So.2d 799 (Miss. 1956). Today, Butler Snow’s appellate lawyers continue to meaningfully impact jurisprudence across the country through both written and oral advocacy.

Appellate lawyers are an integral part of any litigation team, providing support in the form of strategy and written advocacy at every stage. The attorneys in our Appellate and Written Advocacy Group offer the specialized skills required for ultimate success in the courts of last resort. We understand that successful case outcomes are shaped from the initial stages of litigation, and that the “value add” of experienced appellate counsel early in the process can pay dividends later in terms of long-game strategy, error preservation, and superior legal advocacy.

Our firm has an extensive federal and state appellate practice, often involving novel or complex legal issues, in a wide variety of civil disputes. Our appellate team’s significant national experience includes appearances before the United States Supreme Court, 11 of the 13 United States Courts of Appeal and various State Supreme Courts and other state appellate courts throughout the country. These include appeals both of cases tried by Butler Snow and cases tried by other firms, as well as the preparation of amici briefs on behalf of trade associations and other interested organizations.

A group of Butler Snow attorneys has authored the 2021 edition of Mississippi Appellate Practice. The 2021 edition was published by the Mississippi Legal Institute (MLI). MLI is selling hard copies of the publication, as well as an eBook, on its website. Click here for more information about the publication. To order a hard copy or an eBook, click here.

Highlights

  • Stubblefield v. Suzuki Motor Corp., 826 Fed. Appx. 309 (5th Cir. 2020). In this products liability suit alleging injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident, Butler Snow successfully represented Suzuki in defense of the claims.  Following a five-week jury trial, judgment was entered in favor of Suzuki, including an award of nearly $40,000 in costs against the plaintiff.  Butler Snow prevailed in having the judgment affirmed on appeal.
  • Smith v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., et al., 799 Fed. App’x 768 (11th Cir. 2020). Butler Snow represented State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in a novel lawsuit wherein the plaintiff caused a car accident with a State Farm insured.  After State Farm’s insured won at trial and received a $1.9 million verdict, the plaintiff/tortfeaser sued State Farm (and others) claiming State Farm was liable for Negligent and Wanton Failure to Settle, Bad Faith Failure to Settle, Abuse of Process, Outrage, and Civil Conspiracy.  Butler Snow obtained a dismissal of all claims against State Farm, and the plaintiff appealed.  After briefing and oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal in favor of State Farm.
  • Florida Metal Products, Inc. v. Kreder, No. 10-18-00383-CV, 2020 WL 6071698 (Tex. App.—Waco 020, no pet.). In this employment dispute, Butler Snow represented the defendant companies against claims of retaliation and discrimination.  At the outset of litigation, Butler Snow’s appellate counsel identified a procedural tool that could be used to seek dismissal of the claims.  Although the application of this tool presented an issue of first impression to this type of dispute, Butler Snow prevailed on appeal, obtaining a judgment entitling its clients to a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims and an award of attorneys’ fees, costs, and sanctions against the plaintiff.
  • Cheniere Energy, Inc., et al. v. Parallax Enterprises LLC, et al., 585 S.W.3d 70 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2019, pet. dism’d). In this $400 million dispute over the development of liquified natural gas projects, Butler Snow represented the Parallax parties, who sued the Cheniere parties for breach of contract and related claims after Cheniere abruptly stopped funding the lucrative development as promised.  Cheniere sought injunctive relief that would allow it to foreclose on an underlying asset and gain control of the project without payment to Parallax.  On appeal before an en banc panel, Parallax prevailed in defeating Cheniere’s requested injunction.  On the eve of trial, Cheniere (represented by the former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court) sought emergency relief in the Texas Supreme Court (No. 19-0952).  Butler Snow successfully defeated that proceeding too, resulting in a favorable settlement for Parallax.
  • S. Tobacco Cooperative, Inc. v. Big South Wholesale of Virginia, LLC, 899 F.3d 236 (4th Cir. 2018). Butler Snow represented Big South Wholesale and its principals in litigation involving RICO, fraud, conspiracy, and related claims, in defense of a $50 million demand.  The principals were former ATF informants who sold their tobacco distribution business to the plaintiffs, but continued working with the government after the transaction.  Because of our clients’ governmental work, Butler Snow and its co-counsel moved to have the federal government substituted in as the party defendant under the Westfall Act.  Although the trial court denied the motion, we succeeded on appeal in having that decision reversed and the party substitution enforced.
  • Johnson & Johnson, Inc. et al v. Fortenberry, 234 So.3d 381 (Miss. 2017). Plaintiff obtained a nearly $2M judgment for personal injuries allegedly suffered from ingesting the prescription drug Risperdal, based on theories of “failure to warn,” “negligent marketing,” and “negligent misrepresentation.”  On appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, Butler Snow represented J&J and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturer.  We successfully obtained a full reversal of the judgment.  The Court rendered a take-nothing judgment against the plaintiff on both the failure to warn and negligent marketing claims.  The Court remanded the negligent misrepresentation claim based on a defect in the jury instructions.  Butler Snow also obtained a judgment against the plaintiff to pay J&J and Janssen’s costs of appeal.
  • Todd Pittman v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, et al., 662 Fed. App’x 873 (11th Cir. 2016). Butler Snow represented State Farm in a lawsuit brought by a former insured who claimed a valuable piece of property was stolen from his home. Following investigation, State Farm denied coverage based on its conclusion that the claim was fraudulent.  The insured sued State Farm (and others) for multiple claims, including civil rights violations and defamation.  Butler Snow obtained a dismissal of all claims against State Farm and successfully had the dismissals affirmed on appeal.

Previous Practice Highlights

  • Phillips Brothers LLP v. Winstead, 129 So.3d 906 (Miss. 2014) (reversing a $400,000 judgment on a jury verdict and entered judgment in favor of our client, the partner of a limited liability company, who had been accused of breach of fiduciary duty and other torts.
  • Kroger Co. v. Knox, 98 So. 3d 441 (Miss. 2012) (reversing a $ 2.5 million judgment against a major grocery retailer in a premises liability case with favorable findings about our client’s store atmosphere and security policies).
  • Patrick v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 681 F.3d 614 (5th Cir. 2012) (affirming summary judgment in Wal-Mart’s favor denying workers’ compensation claim).
  • Double Quick, Inc. v. Lymas, 50 So. 3d 292 (Miss. 2010) (reversing $4.2 million judgment and rendering judgment in favor of Double Quick, holding that patron failed to show proximate causation and thus did not establish a premises liability claim against the store).
  • Upchurch Plumbing, Inc. v. Greenwood Utilities Com’n, 964 So.2d 1100 (Miss. 2007) (affirming $2.6 million judgment, including attorney fees, in favor of our client).
  • Hall v. Canadian Nat’l / Ill. Cent. R.R. v. Hall, 953 So.2d 1084 (Miss. 2007) (affirming $1.5 million judgment, following jury trial, in favor of our client).
  • 3M Co. v. Johnson, 895 So.2d 151 (Miss. 2005) (reversing $22.5 million judgment and rendering take-nothing judgment in favor of our client).
  • FMC Corp., Inc. v. Helton, 202 S.W.3d 490 (Ark. 2005) (reversing $1.25 million judgment, including attorney fees award, in favor of our client).
  • Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. v. Bailey, 878 So.2d 31, Prod. Liab. Rep (CCH) P 17,008. (Miss. 2004) (vacating $100 million verdict to our client’s benefit).
  • Community Bank of Ellisville v. Courtney, 884 So.2d 767 (Miss. 2004) (reducing $5 million judgment to $7,000 in favor of our client).
  • Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. v. Armond, 866 So.2d 1092, Prod. Liab. Rep. (CCH) P 16,876 (Miss. 2004) (opinion in favor of our client resulted in new joinder and venue rules for Mississippi).