Craig Smyser

Craig Smyser tries and appeals a broad range of complex business and personal injury cases.

    • Mr. Smyser has tried more than 30 cases to a jury verdict, with trials in both state and federal courts.
    • Mr. Smyser has arbitrated dozens of cases.
    • Mr. Smyser has been lead counsel in some of Houston’s – and the nation’s -- largest, most important, and heavily publicized matters.
      • Lead counsel for former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow in more than 100 civil cases around the country.  In re ENRON COPORATION SECURITIES LITIGATION; MDL 1446, Mark Newby, et al v. Enron Corp, et al., C.A. No. H-01-3624, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division and other matters.
      • Lead counsel for Yukos International UK B.V., the international arm of the former Russian oil company, Yukos Oil, dismantled by the Russian Government after Yukos’ CEO Mikhail Khodorovsky became a political opponent of Vladimir Putin, in various matters in the United States. In re Yukos International UK B.V.; David Godfrey v. Lewis M. Linn, Civ. Action No. H-07-26, and other matters.
      • Co-lead trial counsel for David’s Supermarket’s in a fraud case against a Fortune 50 company; the jury returned a $450 million verdict against the company that resulted in suspension of trading of the company’s stock.   David’s Supermarkets, Inc. v. Fleming Food Companies, Inc., Fleming Foods of Texas, Inc., and James E. Stuard, No. 246-93, in the 18th Judicial District Court, Johnson County, Texas. 
      • Lead trial counsel in ICDR arbitration for one of the country’s leading energy companies engaged in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) related business against one of the world’s largest integrated energy companies.  The dispute involved technical issues in a multibillion contract related to LNG terminalling services and centered on accounting for payment of certain LNG cargos acquired to keep the LNG at contractually-required temperatures.  In its Final Award, the panel resolved all issues in favor of SKV’s client, awarding its full attorney fees and expenses. 
    • Mr. Smyser has briefed and argued in the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, and various Texas Courts of Appeals. 

Since founding SKV, Mr. Smyser has been consistently recognized for his and the firm’s litigation skills. Sources in Chambers USA have designated him as a “remarkably impressive lawyer,” “extremely efficient, smart and very selective,” and possessing the ability to “explain to the client what the issues are and what the best way to approach them is.”

Mr. Smyser is a member of the American Law Institute, the International Society of Barristers, and has been designated as a Super Lawyer every year since 2003, making the list of Top 100 Houston Super Lawyers 2007 through 2014 and the Top 100 in Texas in 2008. He has also served as the President of the Houston Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates as well as the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists. In 2012, Mr. Smyser was appointed to the Attorney Admissions Committee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Mr. Smyser has authored numerous articles on contracts and commercial litigation and co-authored a text book on Texas Contract Law with Professor David Dow.

Some Significant Current Representations

  • Represents Schlumberger Corporation as Plaintiff in a trade secrets and breach of fiduciary duty case against its former Deputy General Counsel
  • Represents BNSF Railway Company in a dispute with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers in which the AFPM seeks a declaration that BNSF is violating its common carrier obligations

Major LNG Terminalling and Breach of Contract Dispute

Mr. Smyser and SKV partner, Justin Waggoner represented an energy company primarily engaged in the Liquefied Natural Gas business in a dispute with one of the world's largest integrated energy companies. In an International Centre for Dispute Resolution arbitration, SKV’s client won a complete victory involving a $2 billion contract. The three-member arbitration panel unanimously agreed with SKV's client's positions, rejected all contrary claims, and awarded SKV's client all costs, including SKV's attorney's fees.

Physician Shareholder Derivative Jury Verdict for Shareholder

On June 13, 2013 the jury awarded SKV client, Dr. Fite and BEPA's other shareholders every penny of the nearly $4,000,000 claim Dr. Fite asserted on BEPA's behalf and rejected every one of the Defendants' counterclaims that sought a total of some $12 million. SKV partners Craig Smyser and Justin Waggoner tried the case for Dr. Fite. The case had been pending for nearly a decade as Defendants sought to derail the derivative claims by attempting to buy back and cancel Dr. Fite's share holdings, entering into a collusive settlement with a court-appointed receiver, and by taking the company into bankruptcy. Although SKV defeated each one of these attempts to deny their client her day in court, the last aborted bankruptcy effort in particular cost Defendants as the bankruptcy judge found that the company brought the bankruptcy in bad faith to obtain an advantage in the state court litigation, a result sustained by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Additonal Representative Matters

Named "America's Leading Lawyers for Business," Chambers USA, 2008 - 2014.

Selected for inclusion in "The Best Lawyers in America," 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Recognized in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions of  Benchmark Litigation for high quality of litigation work. 

Named Local Litigation Star in 2013 - 2015 editions of Benchmark Plaintiff.

Named a Super Lawyer, 2003 - 2014.

Selected as a Top 100 Houston Super Lawyer, 2007 - 2014.

Designated as a Top 100 Texas Super Lawyer, 2008.

Selected as one of the top attorneys in business litigation in the nationwide corporate counsel edition of Super Lawyers, 2009-2014.

Named to the top list for business litigation for the State of Texas by Super Lawyers, 2009 - 2014.

Selected by his peers as a Texas Super Lawyer, for 2009 - 2013 in Texas Monthly magazine.

Designated in the "Top Lawyers of Houston," H Texas Magazine, 2007 - 2014.

Selected as one of "The Best Lawyers in America," Texas Best Lawyers 2012 - 2014.

Organizations:

American Law Institute, Member
International Society of Barristers, Member
American Bar Association
American Board of Trial Advocates, Member and Past President: Houston Chapter
Attorney Admissions Committee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, appointed 2012 to three-year term

American Bar Foundation
Houston Bar Association
Houston Philosophical Society
Houston Tennis Association, 2007 Board of Directors
Houston Urban Debate League, Member, Board of Directors
Texas Association of Board Certified Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists, Former President
Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law
Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law
Texas Bar Association

Former member and chair of the Board of Directors of the Houston City / Harris County Cultural Arts Council, Non-Profit Organization charged by the City of Houston and Harris County with allocating public funds to various area arts organizations.

Member and former President of the Board of Directors of Inprint, a non-profit organization dedicated to support of writing in the Houston area.

Bar Admissions:
Texas

Court Admissions:
United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States District Courts for the Southern, Northern, Western, and Eastern Districts of Texas
Texas Supreme Court 
United States Tax Court

 

 

 

Texas Contract Law
2005, West Publishing
Craig Smyser (co-authored with Professor David Dow)
PDF of Table of Contents and Chapter on Fraud and Misrepresentation

Speeches:

Venue and Forum - Federal and State Court Issues
January, 2012
Craig Smyser, Guest Lecturer
University of Texas Law School
Austin, Texas

Criminal Issues in Civil Cases
August 2006
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
with David Gerger, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas 29th Annual Advanced Civil Trial Course
Dallas, Texas
PDF of Article

New Chapter 74 and Old 4590i Compared
March 2005
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas Advanced Medical Malpractice Course
Austin, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico

Caps and Credits: 
A Comparison of the Old and the New
March 2004
Craig Smyser, Lecturer 
State Bar of Texas Advanced Medical Malpractice Course
San Antonio and Houston, Texas

The Ultimate Trial Notebook - 
Preparing for Jury Selection in Advance: 
Focus Groups and Other Jury Research
2004
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting 
Austin, Texas

Discovery Update and Rule 202 - 
The Latest on the New Texas Rules
2002, 2003, 2004
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Advanced Civil Trial Course
Dallas, Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio, Texas

Post Judgment Motions
February 1998
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
South Texas College of Law Advanced Litigation
Houston, Texas

Class Actions - (Plaintiff's View)
December 1997
Craig Smyser, Lecturer 
Houston Bar Association Seminar
Houston, Texas

Advanced Business Litigation - "Fraud and Related Claims"
October 1997; September 1998; September 1999; September 2001
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
University of Houston Law Foundation
Houston and Dallas, Texas

Voir Dire: A Discussion, Demonstration and Workshop
August 1994
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas Seminar
Houston, Texas

Advanced Issues in Evidence and Discovery
1994-1995
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Advanced Civil Discovery Seminar
Houston and Dallas, Texas

Cross-Examination of the Enemy Expert
1993
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Medical Malpractice Conference
Houston, Texas

Advanced Strategies in Obtaining and Using Evidence
1992 - 1993
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Houston, Texas

Selected Discovery Problems
April 1992
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Medical Malpractice Conference
Houston, Texas

Discovery Issues ?Defense Perspective
1991
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Advanced Medical Malpractice Conference
Houston, Texas

Summary Judgments - Defense Perspective
November 1990
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
Advanced Medical Malpractice Litigation
Houston, Texas

Piercing the Corporate Veil
August 1990
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas Seminar
Houston, Texas

Advanced Settlement Techniques
1990
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas
Houston, Texas

Civil Discovery
June 1988
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
University of Houston Advanced Civil Discovery Seminar
Houston and Dallas, Texas

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
1984
Craig Smyser, Lecturer
State Bar of Texas, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Institute
Houston, Texas

Lecturer, State Bar of Texas, 29th Advanced Civil Trial Course - 2006
"Criminal Issues in Civil Cases"

Lecturer, State Bar of Texas Advanced Medical Malpractice Course - 2005 
"New Chapter 74 and Old 4590i Compared "

Lecturer, State Bar of Texas Advanced Medical Malpractice Course - 2004
"Caps and Credits: A Comparison of the Old and the New"

Lecturer, State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting - 2004
"Preparing for Jury Selection in Advance: Focus Groups and Other Jury Research"

Lecturer, UH Law Foundation Seminar, 1997-2001
"Fraud and Related Business Torts"

Lecturer, Harris County Summer CJE Conference - 2009
"Expert Opinions, Practices and Issues"

Lecturer, State Bar of Texas, Advanced Trial Course - 2008-2009
"White Collar Crime and Civil Litigation"

University of Texas 
B.A., Plan II with Honors, 1973
Cum Laude
Phi Beta Kappa

University of Texas School of Law
J.D., 1980
Texas Law Review
Chair, Board of Advocates
Outstanding Advocate of the 1980 Class

Associate
Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.
1980-1987

Partner
Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.
1988-1995

Reporter
Houston Chronicle
1973-1975

Political Editor
Houston Chronicle
1975-1977

American Law Institute

American Board of Trial Advocates Houston Chapter, Past President

International Society of Barristers

United States District Court for the
Southern District of Texas, Attorney Admissions Committee

Named in Chambers as one of
"America's Leading Lawyers in Business."

Listed in "The Best Lawyers in America."

Smyser MH Attorney Badge

 Benchmark Litigation Star15

 

 


Best Lawyers Award Badge

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