Appellate Litigation

Appellate litigation requires specialized expertise and a distinct set of skills, including superb brief writing and quality oral advocacy, which can be found at Phelps Dunbar.

A number of our attorneys focus their practice, in whole or in part, on representing our clients in appeals in the federal and state systems.  Our appellate lawyers defend the firm's trial court judgments, seek review of judgments adverse to our clients, and handle appeals and applications for review for clients represented by other counsel in the trial courts. Technological innovations link the firm's offices and allow our clients to take advantage of our appellate lawyers on a firm-wide basis.

Lawyers in the practice have extensive experience in both civil and criminal appeals, having practiced before the Supreme Court of the United States and the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal as well as the Supreme Courts and the intermediate appellate courts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

Recent appeals in which our firm was involved include:

  • In the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, our firm handled on behalf of London and U.S. Insurers of Transocean the significant coverage dispute arising from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The Fifth Circuit has certified questions from that case to the Texas Supreme Court.
  • Also in the Fifth Circuit, attorneys from the Houston office recently briefed and argued several cases involving insurance coverage, including issues of third-party beneficiary, the meaning of auto “use” with respect to coverage under a commercial automobile policy, and the interpretation of a professional services exclusion.  Currently pending is an interesting case involving federal pre-emption under the Carmack Amendment.
  • In the Texas lower appellate and Supreme Court, we recently handled a mandamus involving forum non conveniens that resulted in the dismissal of a Texas suit seeking $10.5 million in damages to 48 plaintiffs arising from a vessel explosion off the coast of Peru.
  • In another recent case that reached the Texas Supreme Court, we handled an appeal involving the authority of a company man on a drilling rig, winning a reversal of a summary judgment of $1.75 million against our client.
  • In the Fifth Circuit, we successfully briefed and argued a multi-party defending a university client against various employment law claims.  Summary judgment was affirmed in favor of our client.
  • We were successful at the Texas Supreme Court in reversing, on the basis of federal preemption, an $8 million wrongful death jury verdict against our client, in a case with nationwide importance to the railroad industry.  The United States Supreme Court denied the plaintiff's petition for writ of certiorari.