Texas Supreme Court Rules In Long-Running Dispute Over Legal Fees
August 30, 2013 Case Study
Dynegy Inc. v. Yates
On August 30, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in a long-running dispute over legal fees that had attracted attention from both state and national legal media. The Court ruled in favor of Beck Redden’s client, reversing and rendering a take-nothing judgment.
Dynegy Inc. v. Yates (No. 11-0541) arose from a high-profile civil trial in which a criminal defense attorney engaged to represent a former Dynegy officer in a federal criminal prosecution sued the company on allegations of oral contract and fraud, winning a judgment of $2.5 million that included punitive damages. The plaintiff alleged that Dynegy had orally promised to pay the legal fees of his client directly. Due to the circumstances of the underlying prosecution and the potential consequences of a successful claim on the plaintiff’s theory, the result of the trial was covered in both the state and national media. The San Antonio Court of Appeals initially issued a decision in 2010 reversing and rendering a take-nothing judgment, but then changed course on rehearing in 2011. The court of appeals reversed and rendered the fraud judgment and punitive damages, but upheld the plaintiff’s judgment on the oral contract theory.
Beck Redden challenged the court of appeals’ decision in the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Statute of Frauds. The plaintiff resisted that conclusion and argued for reinstatement of his fraud judgment. In its decision on August 30, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed with Beck Redden’s arguments and held the entire case was barred by the Statute of Frauds.
Beck Redden appellate partner Russell Post acted as lead appellate counsel throughout the long-running appeal. He was assisted throughout by appellate colleague Erin Huber.