John Scott Black
John Scott Black handles cases for both plaintiffs and defendants, focusing his practice on complex commercial litigation, mass tort litigation for plaintiffs, and catastrophic personal injury litigation. He handles commercial matters in a broad array of areas, including securities fraud, contract claims, fiduciary duty matters, real estate transactions, patent matters, and institutional investor claims. John has tried cases to jury verdict as first chair in both state and federal court for both plaintiffs and defendants. John has also taken the lead role in successfully arbitrating complex cases, and arguing matters to Texas courts of appeal.
Prior to joining the firm, John was a legal intern to Justice James A. Baker of the Supreme Court of Texas in 1998. John worked at Gibbs & Bruns LLP, one of the nation’s premier commercial litigation boutiques from 1999 to 2009; he was named partner in 2005. He is fluent in both English and Spanish with much of his family still residing in Mexico. In 2009, John left Gibbs & Bruns L.L.P. to form Reynolds, Frizzell, Black, Doyle, Allen & Oldham, L.L.P.
In his first year of helping launch Reynolds, Frizzell, Black, Doyle, Allen & Oldham, LLP, John Scott Black and his partner Jean C. Frizzell secured the 12th largest verdict in Texas for 2010 (also listed 1st in corporate verdicts) and the top Texas civil practice verdict for 2010.
John enjoys spending time with his two daughters, Sophia and Ava, and training for Ironman triathlons. Over the years, through the sport of triathlon, he has helped raise over $100,000 for various noteworthy causes.
University of Texas, J.D., 1999
Order of the Barristers
ATLA National Trial Champion, 1999
Texas State Invitational Trial Tournament & Best Oral Advocate, 1999
Niemann Cup Recipient, 1999 (best graduating advocate at University of Texas Law School)
University of Texas, M.P.A., LBJ School of Public Affairs, 1999
University of Texas, B.A., 1995
Named a “Top Lawyer for the People” in Business Litigation by H Texas magazine, 2009, 2011.
Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" for Commercial Litigation in 2012.
Named one of “Houston’s Top Lawyers” by H Texas magazine, 2007, 2010, 2012.
Named one of Houston’s “Top Forty Under Forty” Lawyers by H Texas magazine, 2004.
Named a “Texas Rising Star” by Texas Super Lawyers, 2005-2012.
Named one of Texas’ “Top 40 Under 40” by National Trial Lawyers Association, 2011-2012.
Board of Directors Positions
Shor et al v. The Zephyrus Corporation
After a three-day jury trial in Corpus Christi, Texas, we obtained a unanimous federal jury verdict in favor of our clients, Toby Shor and the Seashore Investments Management Trust, in a constructive trust suit involving the fraudulent purchase and acquisition of a luxury sport fishing yacht. It took the jury less than two hours to find that Paul Black had engaged in fraud and breach of fiduciary duty when acquiring the luxury yacht, which was ultimately placed in Marshall Islands company that was transferred to his father, James Black. In rendering its verdict, the jury answered all issues submitted in favor of our clients. You may read the verdict here.
In fact, the only question the jury had of our client while deliberating the matter was whether they could also award her money damages.
The case was tried by John Scott Black and Richard Daly of the Daly Law Firm.
Click here to read the full article.
Matthew Minnis and Cullen 130 LLC v. Citrin Holdings LLC and Jacob Citrin, Case No. 2006-78939
After a three-week jury trial, we obtained a unanimous jury verdict in favor of our clients Matthew Minnis and Cullen 130 L.L.C. against Jacob Citrin and Citrin Holdings L.L.C. in a suit involving the breakup of their partnership to develop and own air and sea cargo facilities across the United States. The jury awarded our clients more than $29 million in actual damages and $14 million in punitive damages. The parties will be trying the issue of attorneys' fees to the Court in the near future. In March of 2007, Mr. Citrin dissolved the limited liability companies formed pursuant to his partnership with Mr. Minnis, but did not liquidate or distribute any of the assets or proceeds to Mr. Minnis or Cullen 130. Defendants denied the existence of any partnership and all other claims. The jury found for our clients on all claims, including the existence of the partnership, and found the defendants liable for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, breach of partnership agreement, conspiracy, aiding and abetting and malice.
Defendants originally sought to avoid trial by filing a parallel suit in Delaware Chancery Court and asking the Delaware Court to prohibit our case from going forward. After our firm engaged in extended briefing and argument before the Chancery Court, Vice Chancellor Noble ruled that the Delaware case should be stayed and that our jury suit in Texas should go forward.
Defendants then sought to avoid trial by asserting that there was no personal jurisdiction over the Defendants in Texas. The trial court found jurisdiction and denied the defendants' special appearances. Defendants then pursued an interlocutory appeal of the jurisdictional ruling that we argued in August of 2009. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling in our favor in December 2009; Citrin Holdings LLC v. Minnis, 305 S.W.3d 269 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.] 2009, no pet.)
Toby Shor and Seashore Investments v. PBF Investments, Ltd; Paul Black, BNP Holdings, Ltd; BNP Commercial Properties: AAA No. 70 198 Y 00161 19 03
After a two week arbitration hearing, we obtained an award in favor of our clients Toby Shor and the Seashore Investments Management Trust against PBF Investments, Inc, Paul Black, and a number of related entities, in a dispute involving jointly-owned oil and gas and real estate businesses. A panel of three arbitrators awarded our clients more than $31 million against Mr. Black individually, and more than $26 million against his affiliated entities. The amounts awarded included $5 million of punitive damages against Mr. Black personally, and recovery by our clients of more than $2.5 million of attorneys fees and expenses. The arbitrators ruled in our clients favor on all claims, including claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. In addition, the arbitrators found that all claims asserted against our clients were without merit. Mr. Black and his entities filed the arbitration and sought more $64 million in damages from our clients on their claims, but were awarded nothing.
The dispute arose out of a ten year business relationship in which our clients were investors in certain oil & gas and real estate businesses operated by Mr. Black. By March 2008 our clients were owed millions of dollars on overdue promissory notes, and began asking questions about why they had not been paid. When Mr. Black failed to provide answers, our clients filed a lawsuit to compel access to information. Mr. Black responded by announcing his intention to terminate the business relationship, and resisted our client’s requests for access to information. As a result of a number of contested hearings, the parties were ordered to engage in discovery. Then, after months of stonewalling and additional hearings, we received information showing that Mr. Black had siphoned millions of dollars from the businesses for his personal use.
In an effort to avoid further court-ordered discovery, and to cast themselves as plaintiffs, Mr. Black and his entities eventually filed the arbitration proceeding, asserted that our clients’ actions and lawsuit had destroyed the businesses, and sought more than $64 million in damages. Our clients filed counterclaims in the arbitration for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. The resistance to discovery continued throughout the arbitration proceeding, necessitating multiple motions to compel in that forum as well. The case went to final hearing in June 2010.
Huntsman Corporation v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA), L.L.C. et. al
Assisted in the representation of Plaintiff Huntsman against Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank in connection with the failure to fund a $15 billion merger between Huntsman and Hexion, of Columbus, Ohio. The litigation was resolved during trial for a record-setting $1.7 billion of value to our client.
DMAC Construction v. Surfside Interests, L.L.C.
Arbitrated construction case arising out of the failure to make payments in connection with client’s construction of a $3 million marina in Surfside, Texas. Our client, the general contractor, was owed in excess of $1 million and was forced to litigate the matter against the owner and architect in both arbitration, and in state court. The arbitrator awarded our client virtually 100% of the damages sought, and dismissed the nearly $2 million of counterclaims asserted by the defendant. In addition, our clients were awarded nearly every penny requested in attorneys’ fees. Prior to the arbitration, we successfully obtained a release of the hundreds of thousands of dollars held as retainage in Brazoria County, Texas.
SWEP v. ASAP Masonry
Represented the defendant in a breach of contract, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit that involved a family’s fireplace surround business. After a two-week jury trial, we defeated all of the plaintiff’s claims, and obtained a verdict in our client’s favor – on several of our affirmative counterclaims – in excess of $600,000.
Willis Group, LLC and Seis-Strat Services, L.L.C. v. Antares Enterprises, L.P. et al.
Represented Claimant in arbitration after client had been sued in state court for failure to pay damages that were alleged to be approximately $1 million. The damages arose out of Willis Group’s acquisition Seis Strat, and an earn out the seller had negotiated. Willis Group alleged that the company’s condition was not as seller had represented it. After successfully moving the case to arbitration, the matter was litigated over the course of several weeks. Ultimately, our client was awarded damages with a value of approximately $1.4 million and the original Plaintiff in state court was awarded nothing.
Greenfield Energy, Inc. et. al v. EOG Resources, Inc. et. al.
Handled international oil and gas contract dispute over Trinidadian oil and gas field for Canadian company against group of Trinidadian companies and Houston oil and gas major, with damages estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Clients obtained a confidential settlement from all Defendants, including a handful of businesses that are located and operate in Trinidad.
Corenegery, LLC et al v. Devon Energy Production Company, L.P.
Represented Plaintiff Corenergy, LLC, a co-owner of an oil & gas prospect, in case against Devon Energy, the other co-owner and operator of the prospect, alleging claims of fraud and breach of contract in connection with the handling of that prospect. After being accused of filing a frivolous suit, we settled the case favorably for the client a few days before trial.
New Century Financial v. Hisaw Construction Co.
Represented Plaintiff New Century Financial at jury trial in Dallas, Texas in breach of contract case regarding the factoring of certain business invoices. Was hired by co-counsel one week before trial, and after all discovery had been completed. The Jury returned verdict in favor of Plaintiff on all issues and awarded all attorneys fees requested.
In re Friede Goldman Halter, Inc.
Represented Barry J. Galt and other former directors of Halter Marine Group in securities fraud matter arising out of the failed merger of Friede Goldman and Halter Marine. Our clients collectively faced potential exposure in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The matter was successfully resolved as part of a confidential settlement.
In re Christopher Sean Byrd
Represented a former Texas state jail inmate on a pro bono basis – Mr. Byrd had been attacked by a guard and was left in a coma for weeks. Without the need of filing suit, we negotiated a settlement approved by the Governor for $1 under the state imposed caps. We refused to take a fee, and successfully negotiated releases of all the client’s medical liens.
Rancho del Austin, L.L.P. v. Panahpour
Represented the general partner responsible for managing a handful of very valuable commercial real estate properties in a lawsuit brought by its limited partner. The suit alleged damages in excess of $20 million. Our client, in turn, asserted its own counterclaims. We successfully defeated the plaintiff’s claims on summary judgment, and were left only with our counterclaims to litigate. As a result, the Court realigned the parties making our client– formerly the defendant– the new plaintiff. The case settled favorably for our client the weekend before trial.
Amerisource Funding, Inc. v. Trammell Crow Corporate Services, Inc.
Represented Plaintiff Amerisource in a breach of contract, Uniform Commercial Code action alleging that Trammell Crow knowingly circumvented security interests of our client, a factoring business. The Defendants asserted that the filing was frivolous. The case settled shortly prior to trial for seven figures.
North Houston International, L.L.C. v. Paine Webber Real Estate Investments, Inc.
Represented Defendant Paine Webber in a breach of contract case arising out of a failed commercial real estate loan transaction. Plaintiff alleged damages in the many millions. Obtained a summary judgment on all counts at the trial court level; and later argued the appeal that upheld the ruling in October 2003.
Union Oil Company of California v. Osprey Petroleum Company
Represented Plaintiff Union Oil Company of California in suit against working interest owner involving claims for payment of joint interest billings, and in defense of counterclaims for fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duties. The client hired our team after another large prominent defense firm had handled the matter for over a year, and was facing trial against a well-known Houston trial lawyer. The clients also faced potential exposure on the counterclaims in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Within months of hiring our team, and following intense discovery, we obtained dismissal of the counterclaims on summary judgment – the ruling coming only a few weeks before trial.
Joe Fogarty et al. v. Daniel I. Barness et al.
Represented the Claimants before the American Arbitration Association. The suit was filed after clients were defrauded at an earlier mediation. After a week-long trial, the Arbitrator found our clients had indeed been defrauded. The award provided client with total relief in the amount of $1.3 million, and the matter was ultimately resolved with a total value to our client of nearly $7 million.
Schlumberger Technology Corporation v. Wood Group ESP, Inc.
Represented Defendant Wood Group ESP in a temporary injunction proceeding before the Honorable Nancy Atlas. Plaintiffs alleged inevitable disclosure of trade secrets. After a four day hearing on the merits in September 2003, following accelerated discovery, the Court ruled in favor of our client on all issues. The case settled favorably for our client thereafter.
Victor L.X. Hall v. Dioncio M. Castillo, et al.
Represented a former state jail inmate on a pro bono basis for injuries he sustained while incarcerated. The allegations included violations of his Constitutional rights as well as battery. The jury deliberated nearly six hours before delivering a defense verdict. After trial, Judge Hittner and his staff singled out Mr. Black and his co-counsel remarking that the defense was among the best he had ever seen in such a case.
H.B. Zachry v. ABB Lummus Global
Represented Plaintiff H.B. Zachry in dispute concerning construction costs and delay expenses with respect to the building of $700 million ethylene cracking plant. Following two years of litigation, as Plaintiff we achieved a favorable settlement that remains confidential at the Defendant’s request.
Daniel J. O'Hare et al. v. Vulcan Capital, LLC et al.; No. SA-04-CA-566-H (Consolidated) No. SA-07-CA-297-H; In the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
In February 2010 we obtained a jury verdict in San Antonio federal court holding two individuals (Kevin C. Davis and Ford Graham) personally liable for fraud and statutory fraud for entering into a settlement agreement with no intention of performing. In October 2004, after litigating a business dispute in San Antonio federal court during temporary injunction proceedings, a settlement was reached. But the settling Defendants did little to honor their contractual obligations and instead spent nearly a year stringing Plaintiffs along; they asked Plaintiffs for more time, claiming they had no money while consistently filing papers in federal court acknowledging the settlement. Ultimately, O'Hare and Stewart sued to enforce the settlement agreement. The Defendants and their new counsel then reversed course entirely. The Defendants, armed with new lawyers, argued that no settlement existed, and alternatively, that the agreement was vague, fraudulently induced, and had conditions O'Hare and Stewart failed to meet. In addition, the Defendants engaged in a campaign intended to discourage any collection efforts undertaken by Plaintiffs and their attorneys; they sought to sanction and disqualify O'Hare's and Stewart's lawyers, and filed an entirely new suit in North Carolina, which included as Defendants Stewart's young son and nephew. The lawyers from our firm fought back— ultimately, Judge Orlando Garcia denied the motions for sanctions and the motion to disqualify, and ordered the North Carolina case to be transferred to San Antonio. Shortly after consolidating the two cases, we filed a motion for summary judgment. The result: Judge Hudspeth dismissed each and every one of the Defendants' defenses, collectively calling them "remarkable." In addition, Judge Hudspeth found that the settlement was valid and enforceable, and granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs' contractual claims of $2,000,000. Therefore, all that remained to be tried was Plaintiffs' fraud claim. Shortly before the first trial setting in September 2009, Kevin Davis filed personal bankruptcy and sought to have the fraud case litigated in New York as an adversary proceeding. Plaintiffs successfully lifted the stay and persuaded the New York Bankruptcy Court to have the matter litigated in Texas. A new trial setting was scheduled for February 16, 2010. The weekend before trial, the Defendants bankrupted another entity, but we aggressively resisted efforts to further delay the trial. After nearly six years of litigation, trial began. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for Plaintiffs O'Hare and Stewart in under 90 minutes. The verdict, which found Graham and Davis equally liable for the fraud, included $1,962,000 in actual damages and another $6,000,000 in punitive damages for a total of $7,962,000, which sum is in addition to the $2,000,000 on the summary judgment and fees exceeding $1,000,000.