James M. Kimbell
James Kimbell represents plaintiffs and defendants ranging from Fortune 500 companies to privately held businesses in commercial and tort litigation before federal and state courts.
Jim’s experience lies in extensive jury trial, appeal, and arbitration in both federal and state courts and tribunals throughout Texas and in other states. Jim represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a range of matters, including bet the company litigation.
While his clients span multiple industries, Jim’s docket typically includes a significant mix of energy, healthcare, and technology-related disputes involving diverse matters including breach of contract, injunctive relief, business torts, deceptive trade practices, disputes among business owners, business valuation disputes, fiduciary duties, fraud, shareholder oppression, lender liability, insurance bad faith, tortious interference, covenants not to compete, unfair competition, malicious prosecution, misappropriation of trade secrets, and personal injuries/wrongful death.
Named among The Best Lawyers in America® – Personal Injury Litigation- Defendants by Best Lawyers (2024)
Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Board of Directors (Past President)
Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout
Rotary International, Paul Harris Fellow
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Board of Trustees
Central Methodist University, Board of Trustees
State Bar of Missouri, Member
Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
Houston Bar Foundation, Fellow
State Bar Licenses
- In 2023, defended a products liability case involving a traumatic brain injury. After five years of litigation, the trial commenced. After two full days of a pre-trial hearing focused on disputed evidentiary issues in the case and the admissibility of related pieces of evidence, the associated rulings issued by the presiding judge were so favorable that the Plaintiff’s case lost all chances for success, and the case thereafter summarily settled for less than 1% of the case’s potential value.
- In 2023, served as lead trial counsel in a protracted injunction proceeding on behalf of one of multiple Plaintiffs relating to a dispute of more than $500 million in surety bonds.
- In 2022, served as lead counsel for one of numerous Defendants in a case involving the collapse of an offshore platform in the Bay of Campeche (offshore Mexico) that went down into the sea with more than 100 people on the platform. Served as lead counsel for the Defendants’ group over multiple years, including taking lead in excess of 70 depositions. The client ultimately settled prior to an earlier trial setting. Thereafter, we join the trial team of one of the remaining Defendants, and the case went to trial several months later. The case settled for a very favorable sum immediately following a very successful jury selection.
- Represented a NYSE-listed exploration and production company headquartered in Midland (the Permian Basin) in a dispute centered around the location of a boundary line between two sets of mineral leases. If the client was wrong about the location of that boundary, they had multiple oil/gas wells that were trespassing on and draining the neighboring reservoir. The client was originally the Defendant in the case. Before trial commenced in a tiny town in remote West Texas, we secured a summary judgment disposing of the Plaintiff’s claims in their entirety. We went to trial on our counterclaims, based largely on the notion that our client had to forbear from further development of the minerals on the lease due to the litigation and the contention that the boundary was other than our client contended. We ultimately prevailed and won a seven-figure verdict including a declaratory judgment favorably establishing the property line, recovering lost profits and nearly $1 million in attorneys’ fees. That case was just recently upheld by the Texas Supreme Court.
- Represented a local spine surgeon in a very contentious case (nearly $2 million in fees over many years) involving his “ouster” from an ambulatory surgery center LLC membership. They tried to evict him from this lucrative “partnership” based on a bogus non-compete argument. Like the West Texas oil and gas case, by the time we went to trial, we had disposed of the Plaintiffs case via summary judgment and were re-aligned for the trial as Plaintiff on our counterclaims, seeking to recover the lost value of the client’s partnership interest and lost distributions. We won a verdict worth approximately $12 million.
- Tried a case in December 2019 for that same spine surgeon regarding a commercial loan guaranty he had signed. The primary debtor defaulted, and he was sued on his guaranty by the lender. Not many of those cases are won by guarantors of commercial debt, but we came up with a creative theory based on the loan and guaranty documents, and prevailed at trial. The client was exposed for well in excess of $2 million before that favorable verdict.
- In December 2018, tried a case to a jury in U.S. District Court in Houston. It was a dispute where we represented a New York investor as Plaintiff who sued a title company over their handling of a Mexico-based real estate transaction, and primarily relating to our allegation that they wrongfully returned the escrowed funds for the transaction to the wrong partner when the deal went south. We tried the case for nearly two weeks. During the second full day of the jury’s deliberations, the Defendant title company elected to settle with our client for 7-figures.
- Lead trial counsel for client Doctors Hospital as Plaintiff in connection with claims arising out of a breach of contract attributable to Defendant’s refusal to pay for hurricane-related property damage and business interruption losses. Following a month-long trial in U.S. District Court in Houston, we secured a jury verdict which was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Verdicts of 2010” in the United States and as one of the “Top Texas Verdicts of 2010.” Specifically, the verdict was recognized by American Lawyer and by Texas Lawyer as the: #2 insurance verdict in the U.S. in 2010; 15th largest breach of contract verdict in the U.S. in 2010; 62nd largest jury verdict in the U.S. in 2010; #1 insurance verdict in Texas in 2010; and 14th largest jury verdict in Texas in 2010.
- Represented a firm hospital client as Plaintiff in a lender-liability action versus one of the healthcare industry’s largest lenders, ultimately resolving the case in a complex settlement that resulted in the Defendant’s forgiveness of in excess of $23 million in client debt, as well as the recovery of additional damages.
- Lead trial/defense counsel on behalf of the world’s leading international pure-play geophysical company in a consolidated case that included 260+ individual homeowners as Plaintiffs in connection with claims related to damage allegedly sustained by the homeowners from the client’s seismic operations. Prior to the initial trial of a group of 30 of the Plaintiffs, all other Defendants paid the Plaintiffs in excess of $4.5 million dollars to settle their perceived exposure in the case. The client had confidence in its case and in our team to present the facts to a jury. Following a nearly month-long trial, a Galveston County jury deliberated for approximately twenty minutes before rendering a complete defense verdict in the client’s favor. Thereafter, the trial court granted summary judgment in the client’s favor as to the claims of the remaining 230 Plaintiffs.
- Lead trial and appellate counsel for one of the nation’s largest providers of hospital-based clinical outsourcing for emergency medicine in defending two different cases wherein the publicly traded client’s national business model was at stake and challenged via allegations relating to the corporate practice of medicine. Following victories in both cases in the trial courts wherein the claims of all of the Plaintiffs were ultimately dismissed, we presented oral argument in both cases to the First Court of Appeals in Houston, where the trial court’s favorable rulings of dismissal were upheld. The Plaintiffs in one of the cases likewise pursued the appellate court’s rulings to the Texas Supreme Court, where the trial court’s dismissal in favor of the client was likewise upheld.
- Lead trial counsel in defending one of the world’s premier providers of logistics and transportation services in a complex commercial case brought by one of the world’s top producers of plastic and chemical products (with 36 production facilities around the world). The dispute arose out of a freight forwarding agreement pursuant to which the client facilitated shipments of Plaintiff’s products into Canada. The Plaintiff alleged that the client had overcharged them for fees utilized to compensate for the client’s payment of goods and services taxes on Plaintiff’s behalf at the time of customs clearance at the Canadian border, and for the client bearing the risk of foreign currency fluctuations inherent in paying the taxes in Canadian dollars but being later reimbursed in U.S. dollars. During the course of the parties’ relationship, the client facilitated the transportation and customs clearance of thousands of shipments of Plaintiff’s products into Canada, and in doing so, the client advanced approximately $40 million dollars in the way of the payment of goods and services taxes on Plaintiff’s behalf. A counterclaim was likewise asserted on the client’s behalf. The case settled during trial on a confidential basis while we were was in the midst of extensive cross-examination of the Plaintiff’s key executive witness. The Plaintiff was represented by two partners from a firm recognized by The American Lawyer as “Litigation Boutique of the Year” in the U.S.
- Lead Plaintiffs’ counsel in the representation of four Houston-area physicians whose partnership interests in an ambulatory surgery center had been wrongfully terminated. The Defendants included the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Texas and one of the country’s largest owner/operators of surgery centers (147 facilities). In order to fund the construction of the ambulatory surgery center and its operations, the Defendants actively solicited physician investors to become partners in the ASC venture, and made a variety of representations to the clients regarding eligibility requirements, investment benefits, etc. Ultimately, and after the ASC’s operations proved very profitable, the ASC board and the Defendants began to selectively force out certain physician-investors for reasons wholly inconsistent with pre-investment representations and in order to make room for other physician-investors that the Defendants believed would make the ASC even more profitable, and therefore benefitting their own equity interests in the ASC venture. The Plaintiffs’ claims included fraud, breach of contract, conspiracy, and violations of federal anti-kickback statutes. Despite tremendously well-funded opposition by the Defendants, we persisted in taking the case to the eve of trial, at which time the Defendants ultimately settled and paid a significant and confidential sum to the clients.
- Lead Plaintiff’s counsel on behalf of a Houston-area ambulatory surgery center in a lawsuit alleging the breach of a partnership agreement versus the largest owner and operator of in-patient rehabilitative hospitals in the U.S. In addition to seeking monetary damages for breach of contract and fraud, the client’s claims also contested the validity of the transfer of a partnership interest by and between various of the Defendants as part of Defendant’s $900 million dollar sale of various equity interests and assets in surgery centers across the U.S. This fraudulent effort followed on the heels of the principal Defendant having been embroiled in an accounting scandal wherein the Defendant had knowingly deceived its investors and the public in misrepresenting its true financial condition in an effort to exceed Wall Street expectations. Because of the prior fraudulent acts of the principal Defendant, its stock lost 99% of its value, sixteen employees were charged with crimes, and over $500 million was paid to settle the accounting nightmare. Our client ultimately settled its case on very favorable terms and the client was able to achieve its ultimate goal of divesting itself of any relationship with the Defendant entities involved in the partnership.
- Represented a Houston-area surgery center in claims against this same nationwide hospital owner/operator for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties and fraud that ultimately enabled the client to successfully divest itself from any contractual relationship with the Defendant and operate independently.
- Represented a publicly traded oilfield equipment manufacturing company as Plaintiff and obtained a summary judgment valued at $13 million in a complex commercial lease dispute including a purchase option held by the client. The trial court also awarded the client a significant attorney’s fees recovery. The summary judgment enforcing the purchase option was upheld by the First Court of Appeals in Houston.
- Defended a closely held corporate client in a “bet the company” shareholder dispute. Everything the client had worked toward for the prior 40 years was at risk. The Plaintiff claimed ownership of a significant portion of the company pursuant to the disputed terms of a shareholder’s agreement. The case was ultimately settled on confidential terms on the eve of trial for approximately 10% of the Plaintiff’s claimed damages, and the Plaintiff relinquished any and all claims of ownership in the company.
- Represented and successfully defended the leading provider of industrial safety services to the energy and petrochemical industries in the ultimate settlement of a series of cases involving multiple deaths and serious injuries following an explosion at a New Mexico refinery.
- Lead plaintiff’s counsel on behalf of a publicly traded oilfield services company in connection with a dispute arising out of services provided to a major refinery outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. A confidential multi-million-dollar settlement was reached by the parties.
- Lead counsel for an oilfield project management firm as Plaintiff in an arbitration arising out of services provided by the client in conjunction with a turnaround for another major refinery in the Western United States. The client’s damages model exceeded $7 million dollars. The case was settled for a significant and confidential sum.
- First-chair trial/defense counsel for clients in excess of 25 cases that lead to a jury trial involving personal injuries and wrongful death. In each of those cases, the jury rendered a complete defense verdict in favor of our clients.