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Schiffer Hicks Johnson Fall 2021 Newsletter

In Q2 and Q3 of 2021, we’ve been busy expanding our recruiting efforts and launching new firm initiatives. Our fall newsletter contains recent thought leadership content, hiring news, and updates on the slate of high-profile matters we’ve been handling over the past several months, including a $560 million suit on behalf of 57 Texas High Plains wine grape growers that made national headlines.

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Meet Chase Hinman

Chase Hinman joined the firm in May as a project assistant. He recently graduated from Rice University with a double major in Philosophy and Kinesiology. Throughout college, he worked as an EMT and as special events coordinator for Rice’s Emergency Medical Services.

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SHJ Partner Penny Nicholson Leads Successful Effort for Plaintiff in Fifth Circuit Appeal

After a wheelchair user was injured while boarding a major airline’s aircraft in Houston, Texas, she was awarded almost $4 million in damages by a jury sitting in the Southern District of Texas. Penelope Nicholson and the SHJ team were retained by her trial counsel to lead the effort on appeal. Through our briefing and oral argument, we succeeded in persuading the Fifth Circuit to affirm the district court’s judgment in its entirety.

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Meet Hana Ferrero

Hana Ferrero joined the firm in June as a project assistant. She recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in Economics and Political Science. Her legal experience includes a judicial internship with a Florida circuit court judge as well as an internship with Michigan Justice Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that advocates for legislative change on behalf of incarcerated citizens.

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Is a Small Litigation Firm Right for You?

As law firm hiring season shifts into high gear, top students are faced with a plethora of choices. In addition to the traditional on-campus interviews (or their Zoom equivalents) by big-law recruiting departments, a growing number of small litigation firms are offering competitive packages—including top-tier salaries and benefits—to prospective summers and first-years. Hiring partner Adam Dinnell of Houston-based Schiffer Hicks Johnson talks candidly about the pros and cons of small-firm life.

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Meet Rachel Brown

SHJ is proud to welcome our largest-ever class of summer associates to the firm. Rachel Brown is a rising 3L at The University of Chicago Law School, where her contributions include serving as president of the Federalist Society.

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Meet Ryan Penner

SHJ is proud to welcome our largest-ever class of summer associates to the firm. Ryan Penner is a 2L at the University of Texas School of Law. Previously, he worked as a summer associate at Vinson & Elkins. Ryan entered the legal field after seven years as a high school teacher in Houston, where he taught geometry, statistics, and debate. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Are Public Nuisance Claims the Next Super Torts?

Public nuisance claims have long been understood to rest on “an unreasonable interference with a right common to the general public.” Typically, litigation sought recovery for damages in connection with (among other examples) interference in land use and public spaces, polluting public waterways, or making too much noise.

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Meet Kelly Swanson

Kelly Swanson is a rising 3L at Tulane Law School. Prior to law school, Kelly was a reporter at Global Investigations Review, where she covered government agency and internal corporate investigations of issues relating to international anti-bribery and corruption, financial services misconduct, fraud, and money laundering. She earned an M.A. in Journalism from Stanford University and a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from Washington & Lee University.

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Are SPACs Going to Lose Their Safe Harbor?

On May 21, the U.S House Committee on Financial Services released draft legislation excluding all SPACs from the safe harbor for forward-looking statements provided in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA). SHJ partner Varant Yegparian and Jon Janes, a vice president at insurance brokerage firm Woodruff Sawyer, teamed up to assess the increased potential liability that could befall SPACs, their targets, and their respective directors and officers should the legislation be passed.

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Meet Cassidy Viser

Cassidy Viser is a rising 3L at Georgetown University Law Center, where she is an executive editor of the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy. Her legal experience includes two clerkships: one with the Federal Tort Claims Act Section of the Department of Justice, Civil Division, and one for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. She holds an M.Arch II from Harvard University and a B.Arch from Cornell University.

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Partner Adam Dinnell Honored by Benchmark Litigation

Schiffer Hicks Johnson is proud to announce that partner Adam Dinnell was named to Benchmark Litigation’s 2021 40 & Under Hot List, which recognizes the best and brightest law firm partners under 40 in the United States and Canada. According to Benchmark, the lawyers named to this annual list are “ambitious and accomplished … able to adapt to rapidly changing times … [and] ready to take the reins from previous generations.”

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Meet Adam Greiner

Adam Greiner is a 2L at The University of Texas School of Law, where he volunteers with the Expunction Project as part of the school’s Mithoff Pro Bono Program. He earned a B.A. in History from the College of William & Mary.

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SHJ Launches New Summer Law Intern Program

We are pleased to welcome our inaugural class of summer law interns, Katherine Dyer and Ben Blefeld, to the firm. Katherine and Ben are both 1Ls at the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC). SHJ established the Summer Law Intern Program as part of our ongoing commitment to cultivating lawyers from the local community. The program, which recruits exclusively from Houston-area law schools, gives 1L students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at a successful trial firm and position themselves as outstanding candidates for top summer associate programs the following year.

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Will Chemical Damage Kill the Texas Wine Industry?

While the recent suit brought by 57 Texas High Plains wine grape growers against Bayer-Monsanto and BASF is receiving extensive press coverage, it is not clear whether the Texas wine industry can survive the onslaught. Some vineyards have experienced a 90 percent reduction in their grape harvest, which brings in more than $2,500 a ton.

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SPACs Stand or Fall on Their Disclosures

The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) boom has hit a major roadblock in the form of faulty disclosures. Given the centrality of the SPAC’s disclosures to a plaintiff’s claims, SPACs need to take special care in crafting their disclosures going forward. This article will examine how SPACs can use guidance issued by the SEC to craft robust disclosures that will weaken a plaintiff’s claims.

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Houston Appellate Court Slashes Verdict Against Apache in Oil and Gas Construction Dispute

On May 11, 2021, our client, Apache Corp., obtained an 83 percent reduction in damages it had been ordered to pay by a district court jury two years earlier. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston knocked down the initial $80.4 million figure—which had been awarded to Castex Energy Partners in a dispute over the construction of a large-scale oil and gas construction project in Louisiana—to about $13.5 million.

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SHJ Successfully Secures Minnesota Supreme Court Dismissal in Ongoing Mining Case

SHJ is representing Glacier Park Iron Ore Properties LLC, a large mineral owner, in a lawsuit (and resulting appeal) against United States Steel Corporation, a mining company, involving U.S. Steel’s burying of millions of tons of iron resource under stockpiled mining waste in Minnesota. This area of northern Minnesota, known as the Iron Range, is home to the largest iron mines in the country.

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Who Qualifies as a Healthcare Provider?

As healthcare becomes more technology-driven, the traditional understanding of what constitutes a “heathcare provider” has been blurred. Brandon Winchester and Andy Hicks examine protections afforded by the Texas Medical Liability Act, which can be used as an important tool for medical technology companies facing possible liability related to the provision of medical care.

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How to Prepare for the Deluge of SPAC Litigation

Transactions involving special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have risen at a meteoric rate in recent months. Partner Varant Yegparian examines key legal issues that could arise in the event of SPAC litigation and provides sponsors—including private equity firms and investment banks—with a general outline of steps that may mitigate legal exposure.

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