HOUSTON, May 19, 2011 – Yesterday, Texas State District Judge, the Honorable R.K. Sandill, entered a $196 million judgment in favor of Gibbs & Bruns LLP’s client, D. Bobbitt Noel, Jr., against Dallas billionaire Trevor Rees-Jones and energy giant Devon Energy Production Co., L.P. (DVN). The fraud and breach of fiduciary duty judgment was based on a verdict reached by a Houston jury on March 14, 2011.
The $196 million awarded to Noel, who was a minority interest owner in Rees-Jones’s former company, Chief Holdings LLC, includes $116,390,628 in legal damages against Rees-Jones and Devon jointly and severally, plus $16,773,003.84 in pre-judgment interest on that amount. In addition, Noel was awarded $62,937,547 in equitable disgorgement damages against Rees-Jones.
In entering judgment in Noel’s favor, Judge Sandill concurred with the jury verdict and specifically concluded that the evidence established an intentional breach of fiduciary duty by Rees-Jones and that “the timing and nature of the breach alleged and proven [by Noel] in this case were serious and central to the fiduciary duties owed by Rees-Jones.”
“We are delighted with the Court’s judgment,” said Gibbs & Bruns partner Brian T. Ross. “From the moment the jury handed down its verdict on March 14th, the defendants aggressively staked out the position that they had done nothing wrong, that the jury had failed to properly assess the evidence, and that the Court, therefore, should disregard the jury’s decision. It is extremely gratifying that the defendants’ post-trial efforts to re-write the record found zero traction with the Court. Judge Sandill saw the same damaging evidence that the jury did and entered a judgment that respected the jury’s hard work, dedication, and thoughtful verdict.” In speaking to the jury’s dedication, Ross noted that “some of the jurors even attended the Court’s judgment hearing that was argued six weeks after the verdict.”
The Gibbs & Bruns trial team was led by partners Grant Harvey, Robin Gibbs, and Brian T. Ross. Ayesha Najam, an associate at the firm, also played a key role in the trial. Robert Burford of Burford, Hawash, Meade, & Gaston LLP served as co-counsel.
Rees-Jones was represented by Thompson & Knight, LLP. Devon was represented by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
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