Haynes and Boone is a multi-discipline outfit that emerged as a regional player in the Southeast and South Central US. The firm maintains a network of 17 offices with 40 practice areas spreading across its locations. Historically a revered legal brand in its native Texas, the firm has more recently expanded into markets like Washington, DC, largely on the strength of a rapidly burgeoning insurance coverage practice. The firm has won the praise of multiple peers; one testifies, “We are very often in the same sandbox as them, we see them often.” Another peer, based in Houston, extols, “They are really in the mix now, great people. [They have] Quite a bit of action in Dallas, too.” Clients voice their appreciation for the firm’s approach and prowess. One describes Haynes and Boone’s litigators as “aggressive and thoughtful, with an excellent understanding of the law,” and states that they are “good at keeping client focused, thoughtful with billing and credits, excellent at strategy, trustworthy and empathetic.”
The DC office in particular features trial lawyer Barry Buchman who is a leading policyholder insurance litigator with a specialty in complex insurance coverage, general liability coverage disputes and other cutting-edge insurance coverage matters. “Barry and his team are active in the sexual abuse coverage disputes area,” notes one insurance-focused peer. “When people ask for referrals, he’s always 1, 2 or 3 on the list.” Additionally, Buchman’s practice also touches on commercial disputes that include business torts and representing private equity firms and automotive companies especially. Most recently, Buchman served as lead litigation counsel representing Lionsgate and Starz in a Directors & Officers insurance coverage case that arose out of Lionsgate’s acquisition of Starz and a subsequent shareholder class action that was filed by Starz shareholders. They alleged they were underpaid for their shares compared to the price Lionsgate paid for the shares of another group of shareholders. The insurers for Lionsgate and Starz denied coverage, claiming the “Bump-Up Exclusion” clause in the policies, and after the class action settled for $92.5 million, the clients filed a lawsuit against the insurers for their denial of coverage. One of the insurers for Starz filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the client improperly compromised the insurer’s subrogation rights against a Starz shareholder, John Malone, who allegedly played a significant and improper part in the Lionsgate’s acquisition. The matter became an issue of first impression regarding whether Malone was considered an “insured person” as he was not a director or officer of Starz. Buchman successfully persuaded the court to consider Malone an “insured person” and the court ruled in the client’s favor based on the policies that prevent insurers from asserting subrogation rights against an insured.
Haynes and Boone is also a noted powerhouse in the specialty area of appeals. “In appellate work, they are a premier firm,” raves a peer. “Nina Cortell [now Senior Counsel status] is still active but her protégé Anne Johnson is just tremendous. I would love to hire either of them away but I doubt we could ever get them!” Johnson, domiciled in the firm’s Dallas office, has indeed emerged as a star in this space. She made headlines with her representation of BBVA, on behalf of whom she persuaded a Texas appellate court to overturn a $110 million fraud verdict against the client. The suit was brought against BBVA by a borrower who claimed that a BBVA employee made misrepresentations during loan renewal negotiations. The plaintiff alleged that, at the time the employee represented that his loans were not being sold, the bank was in the process of selling them—an action permitted by the loan documents. The plaintiff claimed that the employee’s representation caused him to lose out on various business opportunities. Johnson and her team were called into action after an unfavorable verdict in 2017. In December 2020, a three-justice panel of the appellate court unanimously reversed the judgment and ruled that the plaintiff take nothing on his claim. Johnson is also lead counsel on appeal for Toyota North America in an appeal stemming from a $242 million verdict against the manufacturer in August 2018. Johnson makes her debut appearance as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation in this edition. Houston’s Mark Trachtenberg also notched an appellate win when he persuaded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a summary judgment in favor of client Caterpillar. In the suit, AIG Europe asserted negligence and product liability claims against Caterpillar, which manufactured an engine used in pumping units at an oil-and-gas well site in Texas. A 2016 fire at the site led to millions of dollars in damages, which AIG sought to recover from Caterpillar and another defendant. Haynes and Boone was retained after a judge in the Eastern District of Texas denied AIG’s motion for partial summary judgment and granted Caterpillar’s motion for summary judgment on each of AIG’s claims.