Bank of America Center
700 Louisiana, Suite 2300
Houston, Texas 77002
In more than thirty years of practice, Mr. Veselka has tried scores of jury trials to verdict. He has argued appeals before the Texas Courts of Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, the Wyoming Supreme Court, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Tenth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits. Mr. Veselka has handled cases pertaining to securities, oil and gas, real estate, breach of contract, fraud, RICO, professional liability, and various business torts and statutory claims. He has handled matters in courts throughout Texas, as well as in Arkansas, Colorado, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Washington, D.C. He has advised both insureds and insurers on coverage issues, and has successfully prosecuted claims for coverage and/or bad faith. Mr. Veselka has both prosecuted and defended securities and consumer class actions, as well as shareholder derivative matters. Besides the complex civil cases which have predominated in his practice, Mr. Veselka has handled white-collar criminal matters at the grand jury, pre-trial, trial and appellate stages as well as SEC investigations and prosecutions.
Mr. Veselka served as Administrative Assistant to Lt. Governor Bill Hobby from January 1973 until August 1976. Mr. Veselka was elected Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party and served one term from 1986 to 1988. He was appointed by the Governor to serve as a member of the Board of Regents for Texas Southern University from 1985 to 1991.
- The Texas Supreme Court kept in place a closely watched First Court of Appeals reversal of a 2011 state court judgment in an oil and gas dispute, Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, L.L.P. announced April 25, 2014. The litigation arose out of an oil and gas lease termination in High Island Field in Galveston County in 2004. The plaintiffs owned overriding royalty interests in the lease and argued that they were injured when the lease terminated, extinguishing their overriding royalty interests. The Supreme Court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ petition for review followed the First Court’s decision in March 2013 that found that SKV’s clients owed no duty to the overriding royalty interest owner plaintiffs and reversed a $929,903 judgment entered by the 405th District Court of Gal-veston County, Texas, against Robert Stroud, Plantation Petroleum Corporation, and Stroud Production LLC. The Court of Appeals held that there was no evidence to support plaintiffs’ claim that the only producing well was sabotaged and rejected the plaintiffs’ theory that the Stroud entities owed the plaintiffs special or fiduciary duties arising out of the assignment of overriding royalty interests. SKV partners Larry R. Veselka and Land Murphy tried the case and briefed and argued the appeal. Mr. Veselka said, “We remain gratified by the appellate court’s judgment that the plaintiffs take nothing from their central claims against Mr. Stroud and his companies in this important case. Plaintiffs were asserting claims unrecognized in Texas and which would disrupt well-established concepts of Texas oil and gas law. The Court of Appeals’ rejection of those claims – and now the Supreme Court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ petition for review – prevent that potential disruption.” The only part of the judgment reversed but remanded for new trial was the issue of the appropriate amount of interest and attorney fees due on $375 in royalties — less than one-tenth of one percent of the damages sought — owed for production in the last month before production ceased. Those royalties, which had not been paid in 2004 due to an oversight, were paid several months before trial of the case.” The case is Stroud Production, L.L.C., et al. v. Patrick E. Hosford, et al, No. 01-11-00593-CV in the Court of Appeals, First District of Texas.
- Obtained dismissal by state district court of all shareholder litigation, both class action claims and derivative claims, on behalf of Special Committee of the Board of EGL, Inc., a public company that was the subject of bidding process managed by the Special Committee that resulted in a $2 billion offer to take the company private paying the shareholders $47.50 per share when first bid was $36 per share.
- Represented former head of exploration and production for a Fortune 500 energy corporation in a four-year criminal/civil/regulatory investigation and litigation arising from corporation's write-down of reserves. Criminal investigation resulted in no indictments; civil class action shareholder and derivative cases settled with no contribution by our client; SEC case settled with SEC agreement to allege claims against client only with regard to negligent conduct and to accept a relatively small fine.
- Obtained dismissals of both a multimillion dollar securities class action and a separate derivative action in two different federal district courts for the same publicly traded healthcare company; the opponent ultimately dismissed their appeal of the class action dismissal; the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the derivative action.
- Represented former Enron officer in government investigation who was listed as witness by both government and the defense in the Skilling/Lay criminal trial. Successfully convinced both not to call the former officer at trial.
- Obtained successful resolution by deferred prosecution agreement in Department of Justice investigation of alleged Lanham Act violations in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon.
- Obtained successful summary judgment for NL Industries, dismissing case seeking tens of millions of dollars in remediation of lead paint in school district buildings. Summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The basis of summary judgment - lack of proof of causation - led to voluntary dismissals of four other cases around Texas in addition to two other cases in Harris County.
- Participated in winning a significant victory for the Port of Houston at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, reversing a trial court judgment that would have cost the Port more than $100 million.
- Successfully defended now State Representative Hubert Vo in a contest brought before the Texas Legislature by losing twenty-two year incumbent; contest was conducted over athree month period, culminating in a two day hearing before a Special Master on behalf of the Texas Legislature.
- Handled an independent investigation leading to a response to derivative demands made on the board of one of the City's largest utilities that resolved the matter without litigation.
- Hired after an adverse verdict, in which the plaintiff sought a $180 million judgment against his client, convinced the trial court to disregard all unfavorable findings by the jury and won on appeal.
- Obtained a successful jury verdict in an oil and gas case in Hardin County against a large operator for failing to reasonably develop a unit, which was then settled.
- Handled class actions against two of the world's largest rental car companies as part of cases that led to a change in Texas law, and refunds to Texas consumers.
- Mr. Veselka has been chosen by his peers as a Texas Super Lawyer, a Thomson Reuters service, 2005 through 2013.
- Mr. Veselka has been named a Local Litigaton Star by Benchmark Litigation, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
- Mr. Veselka named Litigation Star by Benchmark Appellate, 2013.
- 1985 - 1991 Member, Board of Regents, Texas Southern University.
- 2001 - 2012 Member, Texas Southern University Foundation Board.
- Member and one of the founders of the Houston Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society.
- Twice appointed by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas to serve on the Merit Selection Panel for Magistrate Judges.
- American Bar Association, Litigation and Criminal Justice Sections Member.
- American Board of Trial Advocates, Houston Chapter.
- State Bar of Texas, Antitrust and Business Litigation, Litigation, and Oil, Gas & Minerals Sections Member.
- Houston Bar Association, Federal Practice, Litigation, and Oil, Gas & Minerals Sections Member.
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Larry R. Veselka
B.A. Economics, 1973
University of Texas
Law School, 1976
Texas Law Review
Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.
of Trial Advocates
Licensed to Practice in
District of Columbia and Texas