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Firm Profile

Smyser Kaplan & Veselka LLP

Firm Profile


  • Profile
  • Bank of America Center
  • 700 Louisiana
  • Suite 2300
  • Houston
  • Texas
  • USA
  • TX 77002

Firm profile submitted by Smyser Kaplan & Veselka LLP

Number of partners: 14
Number of lawyers: 22
Languages:    English, Romanian, Spanish

Smyser Kaplan & Veselka is one of the nation’s leading litigation boutiques, practicing in all areas of complex civil and criminal litigation.

Complex Commercial Litigation:

contract, fraud, shareholder and SEC claims, patent and trade secrets, oil and gas, and regulatory matters.

White Collar:
criminal defense, internal investigations and compliance counseling in subject areas including FCPA, health-care, environmental, securities, public corruption, and fraud.

Recent Successes in 2016-17 Include:
Acquittal in insider trading jury trial:
The client was indicted for insider trading arising from the acquisition of Shaw Group by Chicago Bridge & Iron. SKV partners Shaun Clarke and Dane Ball obtained a jury verdict of Not Guilty on each count of indictment
■ Recoveries for Black Elk Litigation Trustee:
SKV partners Craig Smyser, Jeff Potts, and Justin Waggoner represented the Black Elk Litigation Trustee against four New York hedge funds, alleging that they illegally siphoned off assets of Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC. The firm obtained an emergency TRO that froze $117,000,000 in the hedge funds’ accounts and subsequently obtained substantial settlements against wrongdoers
■ $6.5 million judgment in real estate theft case:
SKV partner Land Murphy obtained a $5.8 million jury verdict in favor of Southbrook Development Corporation, based on the Defendants’ breach of an agreement and theft of Southbrook’s real property
■ Acquittal in Deepwater Horizon criminal trial:
Clarke, Ball and David Isaak successfully obtained a Not Guilty jury verdict for the firm’s client Bob Kaluza, the BP Well Site Leader aboard the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico
■ Class action victory:
Smyser, Waggoner, and Michelle Stratton obtained pretrial victory which was affirmed on appeal in defense of Texas hospital system accused of charging unreasonable rates for emergency care. SKV showed that rates were reasonable and hospital routinely waived them for uninsured patients
■ Charges Dismissed for Texas State Representative:
Clarke and Ball represented State Rep. Dawnna Dukes on felony corruption charges. The firm obtained multiple witness declarations that discredited the State’s case. The prosecution asked for a trial continuance, but the court ordered it to ‘fish or cut bait.’ The State was forced to dismiss all charges
■ $470 Million Suit over Venezuelan Bribery Scheme:
SKV Partners Lee Kaplan, Ball, Ty Doyle, and Tony Phillips filed suit on behalf of Harvest Natural Resources against former president of the Venezuelan national oil company and others, alleging that they conspired to force American companies to ‘payto- play’ in Venezuela’s oil and gas industry. After Harvest refused multiple $10 million bribe demands, Venezuela’s petroleum ministry withheld approval for Harvest to sell its Venezuelan energy assets for as much as $725 million
■ Criminal OCSLA Appellate Win:
SKV and Phelps Dunbar won appeal that affirmed dismissal of eight criminal charges against Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc. (GIS), alleging that it violated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The charges stemmed from a platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Clarke and Ball represented GIS
■ Precedent-setting administrative case:
SKV Partner Larry Veselka tried this matter before the Texas Railroad Commission for a unit of Tokyo Gas America LTD. (TG). SKV provided evidence that TG’s gatherer/processor discriminatorily lowered the rates for TG’s co-owners in the wells by 48%, which would cost TG more than $23 million. Producers and midstream companies are closely monitoring the outcome
■ Multiple patent litigation victories:
Kaplan represents WesternGeco in cases involving patents for marine seismic surveys. The firm obtained jury trial judgment upholding over $20 million in damages. The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide whether to reinstate another $93 million in lost profits. Another case settled confidentially and a third is pending

Other illustrative Cases Include:
■ Commercial Fraud & Securities:
Successful defense of Mexican resort company in California class action. Successful defense of senior executive of Fortune 100 oil and gas company in DOJ/ SEC investigation and related shareholder class actions.
■ Contracts:
Obtained substantial settlements for hospital system against national insurers. Obtained confidential settlement in suit arising from Iraqi pipeline construction
■ Trade Secrets:
Successfully defended ex-employees of drill pipe company and new employer against suit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets
■ International:
Successfully represented oil field equipment manufacturer in London arbitration over construction of plant in Hyderabad
■ Energy:
Successfully defended $100 million dispute in Alaska. Successfully defended oil and gas appeal before Texas Supreme Court concerning duties of lessee to overriding royalty owner. Successfully prosecuted claim arising from $2.5 billion purchase of Permian Basin shale assets
■ Patents:
Obtained multimillion dollar settlements for small company in patent infringement suits against large search engine companies

BHP Billiton Petroleum, Phillips 66, Cheniere Energy, Inc., Shell Oil Company, Michael’s Organization, BNSF Railway Company, Schlumberger Limited, Penn Virginia Oil & Gas Corporation, Yukos International UK B.V., Celotex, Memorial Hermann Health System, Nabors Industries, Cadent Energy Partners, Enduring Resources, LLC, Quantlab Financial LLC, Visa.


  • Bank of America Center,
  • 700 Louisiana,
  • Suite 2300,
  • Houston,
  • Texas
  • USA
  • TX 77002
  • Tel 713 221 2300
  • Fax 713 221 2320
  • Website :