Jean C. Frizzell

PARTNER

“Jean’s litigation competence is extremely rare.  It is a gift.  And he does it without a scorched earth manner.”

– William Mosley,
General Counsel,
Metro National Corporation

Education


  • The University of Texas School of Law
    • J.D., with Honors, 1990
    • Texas Law Review
  • Rice University
    • B.A., Economics and Managerial Studies, 1987
    • Brown Engineering Award

Honors & Awards


  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Member, American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
  • Chambers USA:
    • Leading Individual in Commercial Litigation, Since 2005
    • Band 1 Ranking for Commercial Litigation (Highest Rating), Since 2014
  • Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation, Since 2010
  • Texas Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, Since 2003
  • Top 100 Super Lawyer – Houston Region, Thomson Reuters, 2012
  • Best Lawyers in America
    • 2017 Securities Lawyer of the Year for Harris County
    • Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation and Securities Law, Since 2008
  • America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Since 2005
  • World’s Leading Lawyers, Expert Guides/The Legal Media Group Guides, Since 2010

Professional & Community Involvement


  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Member
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Houston Bar Association, Fellow
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Life Fellow

Previous Affiliations


  • Gibbs & Bruns LLP, Partner

Biography


Having tried numerous cases and arbitrations as lead trial counsel, Jean (John) Frizzell is renowned for his courtroom skills. His talent and focus on winning ethically have earned the respect of peers and clients alike. As one competitor described to Benchmark Litigation, “Jean Frizzell is an amazing cross-examiner … He is very, very gifted.” Another peer commented to Law360, “Jean provides a great example of a lawyer that zealously represents his client while still demonstrating the level of professionalism upon which the practice of law was founded.”

A Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Member of ABOTA, Jean represents both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal court and arbitrations. His practice spans complex commercial litigation, with particular depth in securities matters, energy disputes, and contract and fiduciary duty claims. Jean has built a strong track record of success in complicated disputes for clients such as Huntsman Chemical, Energy Transfer Partners, Sterling Group, Metro National Corporation, OMNOVA Solutions, Moody Realty National and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Chambers and Benchmark Litigation rank Jean among the best commercial litigators in the country. Best Lawyers has also recognized him as Securities Lawyer of the Year. Jean graduated from the University of Texas School of Law with Honors, before beginning his law career at Gibbs & Bruns LLP and becoming partner there in 1995. In 2009, Jean co-founded Reynolds Frizzell LLP which has been named a Top Ten Litigation Boutique in America.

Representative Matters


Enterprise Texas Pipeline v. Energy Transfer Partners

Lead Counsel for Energy Transfer Partners in a suit filed by Enterprise Texas Pipeline. Enterprise sued Energy Transfer for, among other things, allegedly breaching a pipeline agreement concerning Energy Transfer’s operation of the 240-mile Old Ocean Pipeline.  Enterprise sought from Energy Transfer damages of approximately $400 million. After a jury trial, Enterprise was awarded only $2.3 million in actual damages, amounting to approximately 1/2 of 1% of Enterprise’s claimed actual damages in the case.  Final judgment has not yet been entered, and Energy Transfer currently is seeking to set aside the amount awarded by the jury.

Penelope Loughhead v. 1717 Bissonnet, LLC, Cause No. 2013-26155

Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in a four-week jury trial involving the controversial Ashby High Rise Project. We obtained a unanimous jury verdict that the proposed high-rise project constitutes a nuisance-in-fact. The Court determined that the high-rise project was a legal nuisance. However, the trial court declined to enjoin construction. However, to date, construction of the project has not commenced.

Ronald Edward Whitley vs. Cheryl Lea Whitley and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc

Hired shortly before trial to serve as lead trial counsel for the executor of the Whitley estate-the founder of Ranger Steel Services, LP-in litigation involving numerous claims against the executor totaling approximately $50,000,000.00.  We were also retained by the estate to affirmatively set aside a designation of beneficiary obtained by one for the children on an account valued in excess of $35,000,000.00.  After several key depositions, we successfully resisted summary judgment on all of the claims alleged against our client and obtained a summary judgment knocking out one category of claims alleged against our client.  After the key deposition and summary judgment rulings, we were able to achieve a favorable settlement that was embodied in a dismissal with prejudice on July 28, 2014.

Daniel J. O’Hare et al. v. Vulcan Capital, LLC et al.; No. SA-04-CA-566-H (Consolidated) No. SA-07-CA-297-H; In the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in asserting fraud in the inducement arising out of a settlement. We obtained a jury verdict in San Antonio federal court holding two individuals (Kevin C. Davis and Ford Graham) personally liable for fraud and statutory fraud for entering into a settlement agreement with no intention of performing. The verdict, which found Graham and Davis equally liable for the fraud, included $1,962,000 in actual damages and another $6,000,000 in punitive damages for a total of $7,962,000. Personally argued the Fifth Circuit Appeal affirming fraud, actual damages and punitive in the amount of two times actual.

EnterSys Group, L.P., et al. v. Axon Solutions, Inc.

Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs in a suit on behalf of Plaintiffs for payment of an earn-out amount and associated bonuses totaling $21mm pursuant to an asset purchase agreement. Our clients formed EnterSys LP, a SAP consulting company, and after years of success, sold substantially all of the assets to a UK SAP consulting company, for $15mm up front and potentially $10mm in earn-out payments. The transaction also included employment agreements for our individual clients that allowed them to earn bonuses as certain margin targets were achieved.  Pursuant to the APA, Plaintiffs were entitled to $10mm in earn-out and an additional $11mm in bonuses. On July 19, 2012, the trial court issued an order in response to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (the other side) holding that the earn-out calculation provision unambiguously required Defendants to include pharmaceutical related revenues in the calculation of the earn-out amount and bonuses. The ruling effectively granted Plaintiffs a summary judgment on their breach of contract claim.  At that point, the only claim left to be tried was Plaintiffs’ claim for fraud–making promises with no present intent to perform.  The case settled confidentially immediately before the trial setting of November 5, 2012.

Toby Shor and Seashore Investments v. PBF Investments, Ltd

Lead Counsel in a two-week arbitration in which we obtained an award in favor of our clients Toby Shor and the Seashore Investments Management Trust against PBF Investments, Inc, Paul Black, and a number of related entities, in a dispute involving jointly-owned oil and gas and real estate businesses. A panel of three arbitrators awarded our clients, who were defendants pursuing their rights through counterclaims, more than $31 million against Mr. Black individually, and more than $26 million against his affiliated entities.  The arbitrators ruled in our client’s favor on all claims, including claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud.  In addition, the arbitrators found that the $64 million in claims asserted against our clients were without merit.

Matthew Minnis and Cullen 130 LLC v. Citrin Holdings LLC and Jacob Citrin

Lead Counsel in a three-week jury trial in which we obtained a unanimous jury verdict in favor of our clients Matthew Minnis and Cullen 130 L.L.C. against Jacob Citrin and Citrin Holdings L.L.C. in a suit involving the breakup of their partnership to develop and own air and sea cargo facilities across the United States.   The jury awarded our clients more than $29 million in actual damages and $14 million in punitive damages.

St. James Capital Partners, L.P., et al v. St. James Capital Corporation, et al.

Lead Counsel for corporate defendants in a partnership dispute in which plaintiffs asserted claims of breach of fiduciary duty for 14 separate transactions. Following six weeks of pretrial and eight weeks of actual trial, the jury found no breach of fiduciary duty on all claims. The jury made a separate finding that each of the transactions was ‘entirely fair’. Plaintiffs sought $47 million in alleged actual damages, approximately $50 million in disgorgement and $60 million in punitive damages. Plaintiffs were poured out on all claims. Defendants also prevailed entirely on their counterclaims, including findings of malice and punitive damages, and collected $11 million dollars as counter-plaintiffs.

BMC Software, Inc. v. NetIQ Corp.

Lead Counsel in representing NetIQ in defense of an arbitration in which BMC Software claimed that two of NetIQ’s major products infringed two patents owned by BMC. BMC sought $150 million in lost profits and royalties before trebling. NetIQ hired our attorneys to take over the defense of the case six months before trial, after the proceeding had been pending for more than eighteen months. Within six months, the parties conducted almost the entire fact discovery for the case, and produced all of the expert reports and discovery relating to the validity of the patents, the claimed infringement and damages. The case was resolved on satisfactory terms one week before the arbitration hearing.

Greenfield Energy, Inc. et. al v. EOG Resources, Inc. et. al.

Lead Counsel in international oil and gas contract dispute over Trinidadian oil and gas field for Canadian company against a group of Trinidadian companies and a Houston oil and gas major, with damages estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Case settled favorably our clients, who obtained a confidential settlement from all defendants, including a handful of businesses that are located and operate in Trinidad.

The Interfinancial Corp. v. Simon Jacobson, in his Capacity as Executor of the Estate of Marcel Degraye, Deceased

Lead Counsel for defense representing executor of the estate in a suit alleging breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and a request for an accounting by a company against its deceased founder. Plaintiff originally demanded cash and securities allegedly in excess of $100 million. By the time of trial, plaintiffs had dropped a number of the claims. In December of 2007, we received a directed verdict in our favor at the close of plaintiff’s case.

Lone Peak Group, LLC, et al. v. MediGain, LLC, et al.

Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs who sold their medical billing business to MediGain and had not received the remainder of the consideration for the transaction.  As required under the Asset Purchase Agreement, we notified MediGain of the dispute pursuant to the indemnification procedures outlined in the agreement.  After several months of negotiation, we ultimately filed suit in Dallas County, Texas on September 28, 2014, for breach of contract and fraud.  Within a week, MediGain capitulated, and settled the matter with our clients for several million dollars – significantly more than our clients had offered in writing to settle the dispute for before retaining our firm.

Majority of the Compensation Committee of a Major International Drilling Company

Lead Counsel in representing the majority of the compensation committee, including the chairman of the audit committee, during an internal investigation into allegations of options backdating at a major international drilling company. Also represented the same directors in the class action filed in federal court in Houston, Texas involving the same allegations. The suit was quickly resolved on very satisfactory terms involving no out of pocket payment from our clients.

William A. Christian, et al. v. ICG Telecom Canada, Inc., et al.

Lead Counsel in representing ICG Telecom Canada Inc., ICG Telecom Group, Inc., ICG Communications, Inc., and Zycom Network Services, Inc. in defense of a combined shareholder class action and a derivative suit involving allegations of improper accounting and financial reporting, managed earning, self-dealing, and minority shareholder oppression. Successfully prevented class certification, both at the district court level and through appeal. The suit ultimately settled on favorable terms with insurance proceeds.

In re Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation Securities Litigation

Lead counsel for Dr. Manfred Krukemeyer, formerly Chairman and beneficial sole owner of Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation, in a series of shareholder class actions and derivative suits involving allegations of improper accounting and financial reporting in connection with the merger of Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation and Champion Healthcare Corporation. Subsequent to the merger, Paracelsus Healthcare Corporation, the surviving entity, was forced to restate a number of its financial statements. Lawsuits were filed in various jurisdictions, and the shareholder suits were ultimately consolidated in Federal District Court in Houston, Harris County. The derivative suit was also pending in the same court. After protracted litigation, the firm obtained a favorable settlement for Dr. Krukemeyer, including a buyout of his long-term employment agreement.

Current and Former Directors of Crown Castle Corporation

Lead counsel for all of the current and former officers and directors of Crown Castle Corp in the internal investigation and subsequent defense of a derivative suit filed in Houston, Harris County involving allegations of options backdating. We, along with counsel for the Company, were successful in having the trial court rule that the allegations regarding demand futility were insufficient to support a derivative suit. Additionally, the plaintiffs sought to take discovery to find support for their allegations regarding demand futility. The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s order allowing such discovery, and the Texas Supreme Court declined to take the issue.

In re Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. Derivative Litigation

Represented Cerberus in connection with buy-out claims brought in connection with Cerberus’ offer to participate in taking Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. private. Successfully obtained a dismissal for Cerberus from the federal court case on the grounds that the claims were not ripe.

Neon Systems, Inc. v. New Era of Networks

Co-Lead Counsel with my partner Chris Reynolds for plaintiff in a three-week jury trial of a common-law trade name infringement claim in Fort Bend County, Texas. David Beck represented the defendant. The jury returned a verdict for $14,000,000 in actual damages and $25,000,000 in punitive damages. After the trial, the judge entered judgment in the full amount of the verdict, and enjoined further use of the trade name “Neon.” Subsequent to judgment, and prior to appeal, the case settled favorably.

Pi Energy v King Ranch Energy

Lead counsel for plaintiffs in a suit involving a letter of intent to jointly develop leases in the Red Fish Bay area. After numerous battles in both the trial court and bankruptcy court, the case settled favorably for my client for eight figures just before trial.

Union Oil Company of California v. Osprey Petroleum Company, Inc., et al.

Represented Unocal, as a mineral lease operator, against Osprey and Pintail Petroleum, both of which were working interest owners in a series of oil and gas wells drilled by Unocal in the Gulf of Mexico. Unocal sued Osprey and Pintail to recover unpaid expenses incurred in drilling the wells. Osprey counterclaimed against Unocal for fraud, breach of contract, gross negligence, and products liability in connection with problems encountered during the well drilling and sought damages in excess of $350 million. Pintail also brought claims against Unocal under the operating agreement. Personally argued and obtained the dismissal of all of Osprey’s claims against Unocal on summary judgment a few weeks before trial. Obtained summary judgment against Pintail on all of Pintail’s claims thereafter. The case thereafter was resolved favorably and confidentially.

In re World Satellite Network, Inc. and WSNet Holdings, Inc.

Represented Cerberus and a number of individuals in a case brought by the Chapter 11 Trustee for the bankruptcy estate of WSNet Holdings, Inc. alleging claims of breach of fiduciary duty, equitable subordination and seeking in excess of $100 million. We defended the claims on the merits as well as on the grounds that the estate did not own the claims because they were derivative in nature and actually belonged to a subsidiary that was also in bankruptcy. Parties entered into a confidential settlement shortly thereafter.

Huntsman Corporation v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA)

Assisted in representation of Plaintiff Huntsman against Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank in connection with the failure to fund a $15 billion merger between Huntsman and Hexion, of Columbus, Ohio. Personally responsible for cross-examinations involving Deutsche Bank. We secured a $1.7 billion settlement package for Huntsman during the trial, including $632 million in cash and $1.1 billion on financing through issuances of notes and bonds on favorable terms.

Corenegry, LLC et al v. Devon Energy Production Company, L.P.

Lead counsel for Plaintiff Corenergy, LLC, a co-owner of an oil & gas prospect, in the case against Devon Energy, the other co-owner, and operator of the prospect, alleging claims of fraud and breach of contract in connection with the handling of that prospect. Case settled favorably for the client a few days before trial.

Beltway 8, No. 1, L.P. v. Metro National Corp.

Lead Counsel for Metro National Corporation, a real estate developer with numerous properties in the Houston area, in a lawsuit related to a large parcel of land in West Houston.  Successfully defended Metro National in a temporary injunction hearing.  After the court set an expedited trial setting, engaged in extensive discovery and took numerous depositions.  The case was settled a week before trial.