James J. Burnett
- Of Counsel
James Burnett is an experienced trial attorney licensed to practice in all Texas courts and in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas and before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Appeared as counsel of record in cases in the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas, the District of Arizona, and the Central District of California. He has many years of experience representing clients before municipal, county, state, and federal regulatory and governmental entities.
Commercial Litigation and Appeals: Active representation of businesses and key personnel in a variety of professions and industries, ranging from small, closely held enterprises to large companies with national and international corporate endeavors. Numerous mediations, arbitrations, trials, and appeals in state and federal court in a number of diverse situations, on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants, including the following:
• Construction Litigation: Suing for and defending builders, developers, general contractors and subcontractors, and the customers acquiring and using services in residential and commercial construction, and in trials and appeals regarding claims of structural or construction defects. Represented condominium regime sued for mismanagement of the reconstruction of fire-damaged units whose owners alleged fraud and fiduciary breaches as well as negligence, obtaining a dismissal with prejudice of all claims against the clients.
• Consumer Protection: Representation of individuals in a wide range of cases involving the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Residential Construction Liability Act, and fraud in real estate litigation.
• Oil and Gas Exploration Litigation: Specialized experience representing oil and gas exploration contractors including three seismic dimensional survey projects in the continuing exploration for petroleum resources throughout Texas. Represented one client sued in 46 simultaneous lawsuits in different venues in Texas, which cases involved over 600 plaintiffs alleging both extreme property damage and mass tort personal injuries; obtained decisive findings solidly in favor of the client in all cases, including summary judgments and both directed verdicts and jury verdicts at trial. Appellate courts uniformly upheld all verdicts appealed by plaintiffs. All cases obtained findings of no liability on behalf of the contractor.
• Litigation Against Governmental Entities: Successfully represented a non-profit cultural and performing arts entity in a suit by, and a countersuit against, a municipal economic development corporation. Successfully defended repeated attempts to assert governmental immunity, resulting in a unanimous decision by the Texas Supreme Court ruling that such entities have no immunity from suit, which resulted in a near-immediate settlement of the suit with no liability against the client and an agreed-upon settlement from the ECD. Extensive experience in disciplinary, employment discrimination, Title VI and VII, and related claims against school districts and universities.
• Chemical Litigation: Over 15 years' experience representing distributors, re-packagers, and sellers of water treatment, industrial, and petroleum industry chemicals. Active and successful defense of negligence, intentional tort, environmental discharge, remediation, and CERCLA claims. Represented clients in all manners of commercial disputes concerning the chemical industry and commercial matters including unfair competition, Lanham Act, violation of non-competition agreements, and related matters. Numerous appearances for clients before state and federal agricultural, environmental, and other regulatory agencies.
• ERISA Litigation: Solely responsible for the preparation, presentation, and negotiation of Level 1 and Level 2 administrative appeals and then the judicial actions for damages and equitable relief on behalf of health care providers under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Prepared and filed complaints, undertook discovery, prepared cases for mediation, and where mediation was unsuccessful conducted the cases to trial before federal judges.
• Computer Hardware and Software Technology Litigation: Appeared as counsel in state and federal litigation relating to the development, marketing, licensing, or infringement of licenses, copyrights, or other proprietary rights, on a variety of computer software and other technologies. Other litigation has involved issues of defective design, manufacture, or implementation of systems. Extensive knowledge of and litigation experience involving Cloud Computing, including IAAS, PAAS, and SAAS.
• White Collar Crime: Active and decisive civil prosecution of employees and former employees who embezzled company funds and misappropriated company property for profit. Obtained and collected from $350,000 to over $7,200,000.
• Industrial Equipment Litigation: Suits on behalf of multinational turbo-machinery and other heavy industrial equipment enterprises in state and federal litigation involving diesel, electric, and gas turbine generators, and related turbine equipment, including litigation with international implications.
• Regulatory Disputes: Protected clients before a wide variety of state and federal regulatory agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, OSHA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, and the Texas Workforce Commission. Represented client in case where the Federal Aviation Administration alleged that client had violated hazardous materials shipping regulations and sought maximum penalties for over 20 specific regulatory violations, if sustained, would have exceeded $1,000,000 in liability; resolved the dispute for $40,000 with a non-liability finding on behalf of the client.
• Employment-Related Litigation: Representation of businesses in litigation arising from employment agreements and employment relationships. Claims included lawsuits filed by former employees, suits to enforce non-competition or trade secret agreements, and disputes arising from unfair competition and business defamation actions by former employees or individuals acting with their information or under their direction.
• Professional Practitioner Litigation: Served broad group of professionals including aerospace engineers, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, and a variety of physicians, physical therapists, and others, in cases involving professional activities and conduct.
• General Commercial Litigation: Represented clients in general commercial matters ranging from contract disputes and negligence claims to intentional torts including complaints of civil fraud, conspiracy, RICO violations, and similar claims.
• Insurance Defense Litigation and Appeals: Trial and appellate experience in above- described categories involved representing both plaintiffs and defendants; in defense litigation, especially in regard to the oil and gas exploration, chemical, industrial equipment, professional practitioner, and general commercial matters, involved representing clients through their insurance carriers, including American General, Travelers, and Union America. Additionally, extensive experience in both commercial and individual (principally automobile collision) insurance defense matters as both assigned counsel and counsel under reservation of rights.
Commercial Transactional Matters: Representation of clients in a variety of corporate transactions ranging from contracts for goods and/or services to commercial real estate leases and sales, franchise agreements, intellectual property agreements, non-disclosure and non- competition agreements, and other related matters. These have ranged from local endeavors to enterprises with interstate, national, and international involvement. Representative transactions have included:
• Technology: Represented clients in a variety of technology-related transactions including Cloud Computing, licensing, marketing, and e-commerce, computer hardware and software and network licensing and marketing agreements and operations, intellectual property copyrights, trademark, patent and service mark issues, technology development and transfer agreements and transactions, reverse-engineering and re-engineering agreements, and international software development transactions involving individuals and companies in the United States, Canada, and Japan simultaneously.
• Industrial: Extensive experience in negotiating, drafting, modifying, finalizing, and enforcing all manners of commercial transactions in all aforementioned fields. Agreements in multinational turbo-machinery equipment transactions and complex contractual agreements between clients and various American and foreign owned business entities, including the negotiation of the acquisition contract of turbine equipment from four power companies in Japan, the establishment of new Texas and Arizona corporations for the receipt and refurbishment of the equipment, negotiations with Hong Kong corporation purchasing the refurbished machinery, and with the Manila municipal authorities purchasing them from Hong Kong in turn for installation in the Philippine Islands, and with the Dutch shipping company responsible for transporting the equipment by sea from the United States. Represented clients in transactions involving the purchase, operation, sale, and warranty issues of various types of equipment and machinery ranging from small office equipment to large networked computer systems and major industrial and factory equipment.
• Energy: Represented three-dimensional seismic survey monitoring and risk-management companies with transactions involving all aspects of petrochemical exploration and development, onshore and offshore, with exploration, production, and transmission entities. Transactions have included contract negotiation, drafting, and revision in matters from single subdivisions to multistate pipeline contracts and international natural gas purchase and sale agreements.
• Chemical: Served all aspects of the sale, distribution, packaging, and repackaging of chemicals from master sales agreements for a broad range of products to specialized contracts for unique niche compounds. Transaction work includes constant due diligence and structuring to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations regarding environmental, import/export, strategic materials, and other chemical restrictions.
• Employment and Labor: Initiated actions by and handled the defense of businesses from small, family-owned entities, to multinational combines, in a variety of employment-related transactions including, drafting, review, and updating of personnel policies, employment manuals, and guidelines; the oversight of human resources personnel to ensure compliance with state and federal employment regulatory requirements, review and amendment of safety protocols, drafting, review, and amendment of document retention and preservation procedures, employment agreements with employees and independent contractors, corporate records review and modification regarding stock purchase, sale agreements, and "key man" processes, retirement and severance agreements, and negotiation of employment disputes not requiring litigation.
• Corporate Counsel and General Business Transactions: Comprehensively handled all facets of business formation, organization, operation, and winding down. These ranged from formation of business entities through restructuring and changes of ownership to end- strategy transactions. Handled sale, purchase, lease, and operating agreements on a variety of corporate entities, types, and operational variations.
Areas Of Practice
- Commercial Litigation
- Commercial Transactions
- Texas, 1983
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, 1984
- U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, 1984
- The University of Texas School of Law, Austin, Texas
- J.D. - 1983
- Honors: Dean's List
- Honors: American Jurisprudence Award in Marital Law and Divorce, 1983
- Honors: American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law, 1981
- Honors: American Jurisprudence Award in Federal Civil Procedure, 1980
- The University of Texas at Austin
- B.A. - 1992
- Honors: With High Honors
- Honors: Dean's List
- Honors: Fellow, the University of Texas at Austin, 1980
- Honors: Junior Fellow, the University of Texas at Austin, 1977
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa, 1976
- Honors: Phi Eta Sigma, 1975
- Honors: Brown University Man of Letters, 1975
- Major: History
Professional Associations and Memberships
- State Bar of Texas, Civil Litigation, Commercial, Computer, and Corporate Counsel Sections, Member
- American Intellectual Property Law Association, Member
- International Intellectual Property Law Association, Member