News

2022

“SHJ Puts People First”: A Q&A With First-Year Associate Kelly Swanson

Kelly Swanson, a recent graduate of Tulane Law School, returned to SHJ in October 2022 after completing the firm’s 2021 summer associate program. Before earning her J.D., she was a reporter for Global Investigations Review, where she covered government agency and internal corporate investigations. Here, Kelly discusses her favorite assignment to date, how her work is structured, and what kind of support she’s receiving from firm leadership.

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“Making a Substantive Contribution”: A Q&A With First-Year Associate Jessica Goodman

Jessica Goodman, a University of Virginia School of Law graduate, previously served as a judicial intern to the Honorable William D. Matthewman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. She focuses on complex commercial and civil litigation, drawing on her experience in healthcare and construction disputes, mass tort and product liability claims, and corporate governance. Three weeks into her time at SHJ, Jessica joined us to discuss her goals, the firm’s culture, and the most interesting matter she’s worked on so far.

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Causation Issues in PFAS Litigation: Where Did the “Forever” Chemical Come From?

Frequently referred to as “forever chemicals,” per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, have been subjected to rigorous scrutiny by the EPA, other governments and agencies, and litigants. With some commentators already referring to PFAS as “the mother of toxic torts” and the “next asbestos,” SHJ partner Adam Dinnell and associate Bryan Zubay consider what the future of PFAS litigation might look like—specifically, how parties might attempt to prove or defeat causation.

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The Basics: Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing Under Delaware Law

Under Delaware law, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing – intended to ensure that parties deal honestly and fairly with each other when addressing gaps in an agreement – attaches to every contract by operation of law. SHJ managing partner Andy Hicks and associate James Keefe explain when the doctrine can and can’t be used, drawing on several recent cases for context.

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The Importance of “Plain and Unambiguous Language” When Eliminating Fiduciary Duties in Delaware

The Delaware Limited Liability Company Act allows for the fiduciary duties of a member to be expanded, restricted, or eliminated by provisions in the operating agreement of an LLC. If drafters intend to eliminate fiduciary duties, however, this intent must be plain and unambiguous. SHJ managing partner Andy Hicks and associate James Keefe discuss a recent ruling in Delaware’s Chancery Court that illuminates the necessity of this “plain and unambiguous” requirement.

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How Do JOA Exculpatory Clauses Work Under Texas Law? Part Two: The Recent Decision in Bachtell Defines “Activities”

As discussed in part one of this series, a JOA’s exculpatory clause relieves the designated “operator” from liability for certain conduct or activities, but the scope of this relief can vary significantly depending on the words used in the clause. Recently, the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals issued an opinion further clarifying the reach of the exculpatory clause in a model JOA. SHJ managing partner Andy Hicks and partner Marc Tabolsky outline the implications of the court’s holding for parties to a JOA under Texas law.

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How Do JOA Exculpatory Clauses Work Under Texas Law? Part One: The Fundamentals

The Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) is often the key contract between parties that have a shared interest in oil and gas exploration, development, and production in a designated area. One of the most contested provisions of any JOA is the exculpatory clause, which can dramatically alter the degree to which an operator can or cannot be held liable under certain facts. SHJ managing partner Andy Hicks and partner Persis Dean break down the fundamentals.

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Meet Project Assistant Gordon Rand

Gordon recently graduated from the University of Mississippi with a major in Political Science and Government. Previously, he served as a legal assistant at a litigation boutique in New Orleans.

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Meet Project Assistant Sean Nail

Sean recently graduated from Rice University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Politics, Law, and Social Thought. His legal experience includes a judicial internship with Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, an internship with the Houston firm Schwartz Immigration Law, and an executive board position with the Rice Pre-Law Society.

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SHJ Defeats International Fitness Company in Complete Trial Victory

SHJ was engaged to represent a Houston woman who filed suit against SoulCycle after developing rhabdomyolysis – a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins into the bloodstream – several days after her first SoulCycle spin class. The case went to trial, where partners Logan Johnson and Varant Yegparian drew on their extensive commercial litigation skills to craft a compelling narrative that unraveled SoulCycle’s defense. Ultimately, our client was awarded 100% of her claimed damages, a seven-figure amount, along with all recoverable fees and costs.

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Schiffer Hicks Johnson Earns 2022 Chambers Ranking

Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business announced that Schiffer Hicks Johnson (SHJ) has been ranked as a leading law firm in the Texas Litigation: General Commercial practice area for 2022. Less than 1 percent of U.S. law firms receive this important distinction.

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SHJ Welcomes Two New Associates

Robert Rankin and Daniel J. Scime have joined the firm as associates. Robert comes to SHJ from the New York office of Paul Weiss, where he focused on a broad range of civil litigation matters. He clerked for the Colorado Supreme Court and is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. Dan, also a University of Chicago Law School graduate, previously practiced general litigation in Skadden’s Chicago office.

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Meet Summer Associate Wafa Kazmi

Wafa is a rising 3L at Washington University School of Law, where she is active in the school’s Women of Color Law Society, International Law Society, and South Asian Law Society. Previously, she served as a judicial intern to Justice Veronica Rivas Molloy of the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas. She graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

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Meet Summer Associate Ben Blefeld

Ben is a rising 3L at the University of Houston Law Center, where he sits on the board of the Houston Law Review. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Psychology with honors. He returns to SHJ after completing the firm’s summer law internship program last summer.

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SHJ Wins Trial Victory in Breach of Contract Case

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Intertek, a large, multinational consulting firm, attempted to breach its lease with Trical Commercial, an arm of the Los Angeles-based development company Bycor and Trical Construction, over allegations of toxic mold. Trical Commercial engaged SHJ to file suit for breach of contract and seek millions in damages.

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Meet Diversity Fellow Yuxin (Vivian) Wen

Yuxin (Vivian) Wen joins the firm next month as a member of our inaugural class of diversity fellows. She is a 1L at UCLA School of Law, where she volunteers at El Centro Reentry Legal Clinic and Incarcerated Persons Correspondence Project. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Comparative Literature.

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Meet Diversity Fellow Gabriele Josephs

Gabriele Josephs joins the firm next month as a member of our inaugural class of diversity fellows. He is a 1L at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he serves as a legal fellow at the LawTech Center. He graduated from University of Richmond with a B.A. in Political Science.

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