SKV Persuades Texas Supreme Court to Deny Petition
for Review in Class Action Against Major Non-Proﬁt
Health Care System
THURSDAY | MARCH 8, 2018
SKV attorneys Craig Smyser, Justin Waggoner, and Michelle Stratton have secured a third victory in defense
of a Texas hospital system accused by plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit of charging unreasonable rates for
emergency care to uninsured patients. The hospital consistently maintained that its emergency care rates
reflect the reasonable value of the services rendered, and that it routinely discounts or waives healthcare
charges for uninsured patients under a generous financial assistance policy—financial assistance for which
the plaintiff unjustifiably refused to apply. Following SKV’s plea to the jurisdiction on behalf of the hospital
system, a Texas trial court dismissed the suit in 2016 on the grounds that the case was not ripe. SKV then
successfully defended that decision before the First Court of Appeals, which unanimously affirmed the trial
court’s judgment in 2017. On February 16, 2018, the Texas Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ petition for
review, ending the nearly four-year litigation. Michelle Stratton wrote the briefs at each stage of the
litigation and appeal, with invaluable assistance from Craig Smyser and Justin Waggoner.
SEC Insider Trading Charges Against SKV Client are
THURSDAY | APRIL 26, 2018
The dismissal of these charges completely vindicates Dr. Roberts and finally concludes his five-year legal
ordeal at the hands of federal criminal and civil prosecutors.
In February 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baton Rouge and the SEC simultaneously filed a criminal
indictment and a civil lawsuit against Dr. Roberts. Both the criminal and civil cases alleged that in 2012,
Roberts, a dentist, purchased call options in the Shaw Group based on insider information obtained from his
brother-in-law, then a Shaw executive, in advance of Shaw being acquired by Chicago Bridge & Iron. Roberts
made $700,000 on the trades, and the government alleged he shared $30,000 of the profit with his
brother-in-law in return for the “inside information.”
The criminal case culminated in a nine-day trial in August of 2017. SKV partner Shaun Clarke was lead
counsel and tried the case with SKV partner, Dane Ball. They were assisted by SKV associate, Alex Wolf. The
defense argued that Roberts's trades were based on his own research, that the tip from his brother-in-law was
a speculative rumor, and that information on the merger was already in the public realm when Roberts traded.
On August 15, 2017, the criminal jury unanimously returned a verdict that Dr. Roberts was “Not Guilty” of
securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Nevertheless, the SEC did not immediately
dismiss the civil charges. However, on April 5, 2018, Chief U.S. District Judge Maurice Hicks, Jr. ordered the
SEC to file a status report by April 26, 2018. Three days in advance of that deadline, the SEC dismissed the
civil charges. Dr. Roberts’s legal nightmare is finally over.
“Jesse and his family have been through a horrible ordeal,” said lead attorney and former
federal prosecutor Clarke. “Jesse had the courage to fight for his name and his freedom and now
he is finally and completely vindicated.”
SKV Obtains Multimillion-dollar Attorneys’ Fee Award
for Client Quantlab
WEDNESDAY | JUNE 16, 2018
On June 12, 2018, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison found that Quantlab’s attorneys fees and costs of over $9.6
million were reasonable, and allocated 60% of those amounts ($3.22 million each) against the two defendants
who elected to try the case.
The Court observed that these defendants, along with one other defendant who settled on the eve of trial for
$28.5 million, “engaged in litigation behavior so acrimonious, vexatious, and indefensible that their bad faith
exceeds any that this judge has seen in his nineteen years on the bench.” This latest win by SKV lawyers Lee
Kaplan, Ty Doyle, and Alex Wolf, along with co-counsel Scott McDonald and Allan Neighbors of Littler
Mendelson, followed a $12.2 million jury verdict that was later affirmed on appeal.
U.S. Supreme Court Holds Lost Proﬁts Patent Damages
FRIDAY | JUNE 22, 2018
SKV is pleased by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of our client WesternGeco. This decision is the
most recent win in an almost-decade-long dispute. SKV Partner Lee Kaplan acted as trial co-counsel to
Kirkland & Ellis in U.S. District Court. SKV is proud to represent WesternGeco and its parent Schlumberger
in protecting their valuable intellectual property.
See full decision here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1011_6j37.pdf
SKV Obtains Summary Judgment Win for Nobilis
FRIDAY | OCTOBER 25, 2018
On Thursday, October 4th, a Texas federal judge ruled that Great American Insurance Company wrongfully
refused to cover Nobilis Health Corp’s costs to defend two shareholder class action suits, accusing Nobilis of
artificially inflating its stock price, finding that the suits involved allegations similar to those in an earlier
action that the insurer had agreed to cover.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson entered partial summary judgment in favor of Houston-based Nobilis
on its breach of contract claim against Great American, which had issued the company a directors and officers
liability policy for a period spanning October 2014 through October 2015.Great American had funded
Nobilis’s defense of an October 2015 class action complaint filed by disgruntled shareholders, but declined to
cover two subsequent shareholder suits lodged in January 2016, beyond the coverage period.However, the
D&O policy provided that multiple claims involving identical or similar wrongful acts will be treated as one
claim. Nobilis argued that all three suits share the same core allegations and, therefore, the two later suits
should be treated as having been filed at the same time as the first action for insurance purposes.
Judge Johnson agreed with Nobilis’ position, rebuffing Great American’s contention that the two later suits
were markedly different from the first.“At their core, all three complaints are allegations that Nobilis inflated
its stock price by making various misstatements to the investing public,” Judge Johnson wrote. “Thus, at the
very least, the ‘wrongful acts’ alleged in the complaints are united by common circumstance or situation such
that the allegations are ‘related wrongful acts’ under the policy.”
Nobilis’ troubles began in mid-October 2015, when financial services website Seeking Alpha published an
anonymous article characterizing Nobilis as an overvalued company whose stock price was bound to
“drastically drop.” Shortly after the article’s publication, Nobilis’s stock price fell 27 percent, according to court
The plunge led a putative class of Nobilis shareholders to sue the company and two top executives in Texas
federal court. In that case, referred to as the “Hall” action in Judge Johnson’s order, the plaintiffs alleged
Nobilis had artificially inflated its stock price by making a number of false or misleading statements, including
overstating its 2014 revenue by $36 million.
“All three lawsuits contain allegations that Nobilis’ financial statements were misstated, false, misleading and/or
inaccurate,” the judge wrote. “Additionally, all three complaints discuss the information revealed by the Seeking
Alpha post. The court finds that the Hall, Schott and Cappelli complaints contained at least some allegations
of the same ‘wrongful acts.’”
Great American had argued that the three cases are not related because the Schott and Cappelli actions dealt
with the accounting errors that Nobilis disclosed to the SEC, after the Hall case had already been dismissed.
But Judge Johnson said Nobilis’ January 2016 disclosure was not itself a wrongful act. All three suits sought
damages based on the same or similar purported misstatements by Nobilis, the judge found.
“The ‘wrongful acts’ complained of in the three lawsuits are primarily that Nobilis’ financial statements from
2014 and the first two quarters of 2015 contained misstated information,” Judge Johnson wrote.
Tyler G. Doyle of Smyser Kaplan Veselka LLP, who represents Nobilis, told Law360, “Nobilis is extremely
pleased with the court’s ruling and believes that the court reached the correct decision here.”
Nobilis is represented by Tyler G. Doyle, Crystal Noel Robles and Craig Smyser of Smyser Kaplan Veselka LLP.
See full story on Law360:
SKV Named Litigation Department of the
Year by Texas Lawyer
THURSDAY | JULY 12, 2018
Smyser Kaplan & Veselka is thrilled to have been chosen as Texas Lawyer's Litigation Department of the Year
in the small firm category. We appreciate this recognition, which is earned by our lawyers, our tremendous
victories, and our entire staff who make sure that whatever we do, it is done to the highest quality. Creativity
and moxie mixed with thoroughness and attention to detail -- from top to bottom -- got us here.
For more information on the award, visit:
SKV Named a "Top 10 Litigation Boutique Firm"
in the United States
MONDAY | OCTOBER 15, 2018
SKV is honored to announce that Benchmark Litigation has ranked Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, LLP. as one of
the "Top 10 Litigation Boutiques in the United States" for 2019 and has also named us a "Highly
Recommended Litigation Firm" in Texas.
For more information about our rankings and firm, visit:
Five SKV Lawyers Named as 2018 Texas Rising
Stars by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers
THURSDAY | MARCH 15, 2018
Dane Ball, Partner
Criminal Defense: White Collar
Ty Doyle, Partner
Jarod Stewart, Partner
General Litigation and Business Litigation
Razvan Ungureanu, Partner
Hector Chavez, Associate
Intellectual Property Litigation, Civil Litigation
SKV Hires New Litigation Associate
THURSDAY | MAY 17, 2018
SKV is honored to announce its newest hire, Jacquelyn
Rex. Jackie graduated cum laude from Boston
University School of Law before clerking for United
States District Judge Rolando Olvera. While in law
school, Jackie served as Editor-in-Chief of the Public
Interest Law Journal, and was a member of the
winning team at the Homer Albers Moot Court
Competition where she argued before federal appellate
judges from the First, Second and Eleventh Circuits.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jackie to the team at
SKV,” said SKV partner, Lee Kaplan. “She is a rising
star and will bring unique and valuable experience that
will be of great benefit not only to our team, but to our
clients as well.”
Before joining SKV, Jackie was an associate at Bradley
in Houston where she worked as a construction
litigator and defended developers, general contractors,
and project owners in suits involving large-scale
infrastructure projects and multi-unit residential
construction projects. Jackie’s practice at SKV will
focus on complex commercial litigation and white
collar defense and investigations.
Jackie is a native Texan, and prior to law school taught
elementary special education, grades PK-5, in the Rio
Grande Valley as a Teach for America corps member.
SKV Adds Another Talented Trial Lawyer
to its Growing Team
THURSDAY | JUNE 7, 2018
Mr. Zilberman, a graduate of Rutgers University
(summa cum laude) and the University of Virginia Law
School, clerked for the Honorable Eric L. Clay on the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Eugene
comes to SKV from Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP’s New
York City Office.
While in law school, Mr. Zilberman served on the
Editorial Board of the Virginia Journal of Law and
Politics and participated on the Extramural Moot
Court team. Mr. Zilberman was awarded the
Bracewell and Giuliani Best Oral Argument Award,
which is given to the student who delivers the best oral
argument in his section.
“The team at SKV has gained a tremendous asset in
Eugene,” said SKV partner, Craig Smyser. "He has a
great deal of experience thus far and has a bright
future ahead of him at SKV.”
Mr. Zilberman has worked on a variety of complex civil
disputes in both federal and state courts. He also has
experience conducting internal investigations and
counseling clients before regulatory agencies.
Additionally, Mr. Zilberman serves on the Criminal
Justice Act Panel for the United States Sixth Circuit
Court of Appeals.
SKV Continues to Grow and Hires Another
Talented Young Lawyer
WEDNESDAY | SEPTEMBER 26, 2018
SKV is proud to announce the addition of another
up-and-coming litigation associate to our team,
Austin Kreitz focuses his practice on complex
commercial litigation and white collar criminal
defense and investigations. Before joining Smyser
Kaplan & Veselka, Mr. Kreitz served as the Law
Fellow for the Special Counsel Unit at the Texas
Attorney General’s Office. While there, he worked
on high-profile matters for the State of Texas
concerning complex civil and constitutional issues.
Prior to his work at the Attorney General’s Office,
Mr. Kreitz clerked for Judge Reed O’Connor of the
United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas.
Mr. Kreitz received his B.B.A., summa cum laude,
from Baylor University in 2013 and his J.D. from
Harvard Law School in 2016. While in law school, he
served as Articles Editor for the Harvard Journal of
Law and Public Policy and interned with the United
States Attorney’s Office.
2019 marks the 25th anniversary of SKV. In 1994, three partners at major Houston firms set out
to build a different kind of law firm. Their experience forged their beliefs about what they
wanted and didn’t want at SKV. Rather than provide legal counsel for every conceivable matter,
the new firm would focus only on trial work and appeals. SKV would still exhibit the highest
commitment to client services, but that commitment would include working with clients to find
alternatives to the billable hour. In an era when everyone was scrambling to get bigger, SKV
would grow slowly, hiring the most promising young lawyers out of clerkships or early in their
careers and then spend time and resources training them to become outstanding lawyers in their
own right. And finally, unlike many firms where intra-office relationships are often strained and
widespread attrition is actually part of the business model, SKV would strive to create a collegial
environment where lawyers enjoyed working together and would measure their tenures in
decades, not months.
It’s safe to say our founders’ vision has paid off. In recent years, the firm has repeatedly been
named the best litigation firm in the state of Texas. Benchmark Litigation named SKV one of
the 10 best litigation boutiques in the United States. And our collection of high-profile victories
continues to grow.
Follow us for updates and exiting news to come in 2019.