Appellate Lawyers Serving Texas

Work with Our Board-Certified Specialists in Houston

While Hicks Thomas is principally a trial litigation firm, our expertise and experience extends to appellate matters as well. The presence of "Board Certified" appellate specialists along with other appellate experts means one-stop shopping for litigation needs — from trial courts to highest courts.

Eric Grant of the firm's Sacramento office is a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law, as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He served as a law clerk to Judge Edith H. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and also to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (Ret.) and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Grant has briefed and argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and the Florida Supreme Court as well as in numerous other federal and state appellate courts.

J. Stephen Barrick of the firm's Houston office is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been recognized as a Texas "Super Lawyer" in appellate law by Super Lawyers Magazine every year since 2012. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center, where he served on the Law Review, Mr. Barrick served as a law clerk to Judge John D. Rainey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for two years. Afterward, he joined the litigation section of a large international law firm, where he learned appellate practice from a veteran court of appeals justice. Mr. Barrick has expertise in pursuing and opposing appeals of final judgments and interlocutory orders, and in pursuing writs of mandamus and other appellate remedies. Mr. Barrick's work representing litigants in state and federal appellate courts has produced over a dozen published opinions.

Hicks Thomas founder John B. Thomas also served as a law clerk to Judge Edith Jones. He served as co-lead counsel in King Ranch, Inc. v. Chapman, 118 S.W.3d 742 (Tex. 2003), obtaining a unanimous reversal of an intermediate appellate decision that would have unsettled the title to the storied King Ranch in South Texas.

See a list of selected published opinions. [+]

Precedent-Setting

The work of our Texas appellate attorneys has created new law to the benefit of our clients. For example:

  • In R.R. Street & Co. Inc. v. Pilgrim Enterprises, Inc., 166 S.W.3d 232 (Tex. 2005), Hicks Thomas litigated an environmental contamination action all the way from the trial court to the Texas Court of Appeals to the Texas Supreme Court. In what the court called a "case of first impression" under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, our appellate lawyer in Houston helped establish a narrow scope for "arranger liability" under the Act, to the advantage of chemical distributors like our client. Our efforts ultimately led to the dismissal of all claims against the client.
  • In King Ranch, Inc. v. Chapman, 118 S.W.3d 742 (Tex. 2003), Hicks Thomas founder John Thomas served as co-lead counsel in obtaining a unanimous reversal of an intermediate appellate decision that would have unsettled title to the storied King Ranch in South Texas. In reporting on the decision, Texas Lawyer quoted Thomas first: "What this opinion says is that you can't get a do-over after 120 years."
  • In Allen v. Devon Energy Holdings, L.L.C., 367 S.W.3d 355 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. granted, judgm't vacated w.r.m.), Hicks Thomas helped establish new legal standards for evaluating claims of securities fraud, common-law fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. The appellate court's consequent reversal of the trial court's grant of summary judgment against our client resulted in a very favorable settlement without a trial.
  • In Team Enterprises, LLC v. Western Investment Real Estate Trust, 647 F.3d 901 (9th Cir. 2011), and Hinds Investments, L.P. v. Angioli, 654 F.3d 846 (9th Cir. 2011), Hicks Thomas convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to adopt a narrow view of "arranger liability" under CERCLA and a similarly narrow view of "contribution liability" under RCRA, to the advantage of equipment manufacturers like our client. In both cases, the court of appeals affirmed pre-trial dismissals of all claims against the client.
  • In R.R. Street & Co. Inc. v. Vulcan Materials Co., 569 F.3d 711 (7th Cir. 2009), Hicks Thomas litigated another case of "first impression" in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. On an important procedural question regarding the authority of federal district courts to abstain from hearing actions seeking both declaratory and non-declaratory relief, the Seventh Circuit adopted a standard favorable to litigants like our client who seek broad access to the federal courts. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the adverse trial court decision, leading to an advantageous settlement.

High-Level Experience

In addition to the extensive list of appellate cases available here, the following are some highlights of our appellate practice:

  • Supreme Court of the United States

In Osborn v. Haley, 549 U.S. 225 (2007), Mr. Grant drafted the successful petition for certiorari and argued for the petitioner in a dispute involving a procedural component of the Federal Tort Claims Act. Hicks Thomas continues to file petitions for certiorari in the High Court.

  • Texas Supreme Court

In R.R. Street & Co. Inc. v. Pilgrim Enterprises, Inc., 166 S.W.3d 232 (Tex. 2005), a "case of first impression" under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act, Hicks Thomas won a unanimous reversal of an unfavorable intermediate appellate decision.

  • California Supreme Court

In Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency v. Verjil, 39 Cal. 4th 205 (2006), Mr. Grant won a unanimous decision establishing that the California Constitution grants local voters the right to use the initiative power to reduce the rate that a public water district charges for domestic water.

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Hicks Thomas is a regular player in the federal and state appellate courts, particularly in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Ninth Circuits. For example, in BP Exploration Libya Ltd. v. ExxonMobil Libya Ltd., 689 F.3d 481 (5th Cir. 2012), we prevailed in a dispute over the interpretation of a commercial arbitration agreement among oil industry giants.

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

In 2011, the firm won two related decisions establishing that manufacturers of equipment are generally not liable under CERCLA or RCRA or for nuisance or trespass for environmental contamination resulting from the disposal of hazardous waste by purchasers of such equipment. See Team Enterprises, LLC v. Western Investment Real Estate Trust, 647 F.3d 901 (9th Cir. 2011) (arising from a shopping center in Modesto, California), and Hinds Investments, L.P. v. Angioli, 654 F.3d 846 (9th Cir. 2011) (arising from shopping centers in Clovis and Fresno, California).

  • Texas Court of Appeals

In Allen v. Devon Energy Holdings, L.L.C., 367 S.W.3d 355 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. granted, judgm't vacated w.r.m.), Hicks Thomas won a reversal of a summary judgment against our client, the plaintiff in an action for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, resulting in a very favorable settlement without a trial.

See a list of selected published opinions. [+]