Direct Dial: (713) 936-2402
Mr. Pratt’s practice focuses on the trial and appeal of complex commercial, statutory, and constitutional disputes. He has successfully tried dozens of jury trials, bench trials, arbitrations, and injunction hearings, for both plaintiffs and defendants, and successfully briefed and argued multiple appeals in state and federal courts.
Some of the areas in which he has particularly broad experience include:
Shareholder and Partnership Disputes. Mr. Pratt has represented controlling and minority owners of partnerships and closely-held corporations in "business divorce" cases arising from disputes over suppressed dividends, buy-out valuations, management rights, and outright fraud.
Securities Fraud. Mr. Pratt has successfully prosecuted securities fraud suits and arbitrations on behalf of dozens of investors in a variety of areas, including options, commodity futures, limited partnership interests, bonds, Ponzi schemes, broker self-dealing and general "boiler room" practices.
Oil and Gas. Mr. Pratt has represented oil and gas producers and royalty owners in cases involving marketing arrangements, lease development, operating agreements, gas processing, pooling and unitization arrangements, gas measurement methods, lease assignments, field acquisition, title issues, and surface use.
Contract, Fraud and Fiduciary Litigation. Mr. Pratt has tried and otherwise resolved cases over contracts as varied as partnership agreements, stock purchase agreements, equipment manufacturing agreements, marine charters, investment advisory agreements and floorplan financing. He has obtained substantial recoveries for parties harmed by breaches of fiduciary duty, including investors, trust beneficiaries, corporate victims of embezzlement, and minority shareholders and non-controlling partners.
Theft of Trade Secrets and Non-Compete Litigation. Mr. Pratt has prosecuted and defended against multiple lawsuits alleging the theft of trade secrets by former employees and breaches of contractual covenants against competition.
Insurance Recovery. Mr. Pratt’s insurance coverage practice has included multiple engagements to recover insurance proceeds when the insurer denies coverage, particularly for defense costs and liability coverage when a client has been sued by a third party.
Stock Purchase Agreement Arbitration. Successfully defended a federally-chartered bank, in a two-week arbitration, against claims by the seller of a trust company that the bank owed an additional $4 million in post-closing adjustments and contingency payments.
Securities Fraud/Control-Person Liability Arbitration. Successfully prosecuted securities fraud claims, through a two-week NASD (now FINRA) arbitration, for multiple investors in fraudulently-sold limited partnership interests in commercial mortgages.
Gas Measurement/Commingling. Obtained, for a major independent oil and gas company, a summary judgment dismissal of a royalty owner’s allegations of improper gas measurement and commingling.
Breach of Marine Drilling Rig Charter. Successfully represented the owners of a marine drilling rig which was lost in Hurricane Rita, on claims against the operator for failing to adequately insure the rig. The rig had been valued at over $75 million.
Failed Acquisition of Oil & Gas Lease. Defended a major independent oil and gas company against claimed damages of $400 million for alleged theft of trade secrets and tortious interference, arising from the plaintiff oil and gas company’s failed attempt to acquire a multi-state lease package. Successfully resolved the case for far less than the anticipated cost of defense.
Breach of Finder’s Fee Contract. Represented a Swiss financial advisory firm seeking to collect the commission that it earned in connection with the $165 million sale of an international oil and gas exploration company, and recovered a substantial settlement on the eve of trial.
Firefighter Retirement Pay Claims. Engaged by a major city — after the city had already lost at trial and at the intermediate court of appeals — to defend against claims that it had underpaid hundreds of former firefighters. Ultimately persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to reverse and render a take-nothing judgment on a substantial part of the claims.
Oil and Gas Marketing/Royalty Appeal. Successfully argued for affirmation on appeal of a take-nothing judgment for a major independent oil and gas producer, on royalty owners’ complaints about the producer’s marketing practices.
Breach of Software Distribution Contract. Won the dismissal of a $100 million breach of contract claim against one of the world’s largest software companies.
Interpretation of Mineral Lease Assignment. Obtained a judgment, on behalf of a major independent oil and gas producer, declaring that a depth-restricted and horizon-splitting partial lease assignment had encompassed an entire field rather than, as claimed by the seller’s heirs, a single well.
Real Estate Partnership Dispute. Recovered a substantial settlement on counterclaims for the defendant in a multi-party dispute between the limited partners of a major real estate development.
Shareholder Oppression/Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Represented a minority shareholder and trust beneficiary on claims arising from the controlling shareholders’ fraud and oppression of the trustee who controlled the minority stake in a family corporation which had been sold for $145 million. Collected a substantial settlement on the eve of trial.
Breach of Settlement Agreement. Successfully prosecuted, through trial and judgment, claims that a major equipment finance company had breached a settlement agreement reached in earlier litigation.
Inverse condemnation. Defended the owner of a major intrastate gas transmission pipeline against a million-dollar trespass/inverse condemnation claim. After a two-week trial, the jury awarded the landowner less than the costs awarded to the pipeline company.
First Amendment. Defended the Santa Fe Independent School District, through trial and appeal, against Establishment Clause claims arising from student prayer at school functions. Case was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Commercial Product Liability. Defended major manufacturer of oilfield equipment against $40 million claim arising out collapse of marine drilling riser.
Insurance Recoveries. Successfully prosecuted claim for fidelity bond coverage, on behalf of a bank which had been the victim of embezzlement. Has also successfully prosecuted claims for liability and defense coverage on behalf of multiple clients.
Lender Liability. Obtained a substantial jury verdict and judgment for fraud and usury in connection with a wrongful real estate foreclosure, and successfully defended the judgment on appeal to the court of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Mr. Pratt was hired as trial counsel for the plaintiff two weeks before trial.
Group Insurance Fraud. Prosecuted a major corporation’s fraud claim against its group life insurance provider, obtaining a settlement well in excess of client’s out-of-pocket loss.
Articles and Speaking Engagements
- Frank’s Casing About-Face: Court Denies Settling Insurer’s Reimbursement Claim, The Houston Lawyer 62 (March – April, 2008) (co-authored with James L. Cornell).
- Settlement Leverage and the Insurer’s Ability to Seek Reimbursement, Risk (Spring, 2008).
- Calculating Prejudgment Interest on Contract Claims, The Advocate 39 (Summer, 2007).
- Securities Law Arbitration: Confidentiality and the Doctrine of ‘Shared Discovery’ in the Arbitration of Customer Claims Against Broker-Dealers, The Advocate 25 (Winter, 2003).
- Successor Liability of Broker Dealers, PIABA Bar Journal (March 21, 2001).
- Cross Examination – The Rest of the Story, presented at Howrey Bootcamp, Maryland (2006, 2007)
- Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Howrey Advanced Academy, Washington, DC (2006, 2007)
- Marketing Gas in Today’s Environment: Royalty Obligations and Other Legal Issues, presented at the 44th Annual Natural Resources Law Association, Arkansas Bar Association (February 24 – 25, 2005).
- Regulatory Jurisdiction in Private Oil & Gas Litigation, presented at the 28th Annual Oil, Gas & Mineral Law Institute (March 22, 2002).