Robert K. Ellis

Partner
Contact
rellis@yettercoleman.com
713.632.8078 | Houston, Texas
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Professional Summary

Rob is a trial lawyer focused on representing plaintiffs and defendants in high-stakes litigation across the country. His experience includes leading and contributing to trial teams, with deep background in handling each stage from inception through closing arguments.

Prior to joining the firm, Rob clerked for the Hon. Jennifer Walker Elrod of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he won the Best Negotiator Award in the respected Williston Competition. He also received an LL.M. with highest honors from the University of Cambridge, with an emphasis on international law and business litigation. He is fluent in Portuguese and conversant in Norwegian.

Representative Experience
  • Smith v. SEECO, Inc., et al. Represented Southwestern Energy and affiliates in contract and fraud class actions concerning post-production expense deductions from royalty payments. Through overlapping class actions in Arkansas state and federal courts, various plaintiffs representing more than 12,000 class members alleged that Southwestern’s affiliate was prohibited from deducting the costs of its sister-company’s gas gathering services. After a two-week trial in Little Rock, the firm and co-counsel achieved a complete defense victory, with the jury rejecting the plaintiff’s claim for $300 million in actual and punitive damages and penalties.
  • Hardesty, et al. v. County of Sacramento Helped secure a unanimous $107 million federal jury trial win for two mining families in California. Plaintiffs alleged that the County of Sacramento violated their procedural and substantive due process rights by improperly shutting down a sand-gravel mine at the urging of a large competitor (Top 100 U.S. verdict of 2017).
  • Confidential  Represented a company founder who alleged that he was forced out by his partners and defrauded into selling his equity stake at a low price. Within months of buying out the founder's stake, his former partners sold the entire business for a substantial profit -- including $30 million that should have been paid to the founder. After jury selection and just before opening statement, a satisfactory settlement was secured for the client.
  • Business Logic Holding Corp. v. Morningstar Represented Business Logic in a breach of contract and trade secrets case related to retirement advice software.  The firm secured several key pre-trial rulings, including dismissal on summary judgment of defendants’ counterclaim.  One business day before trial, defendants agreed to pay Business Logic $61 million to settle the case, which represented a recovery of 95% of the maximum claimed damages.  The settlement is reported to be the 9th largest disclosed trade secrets settlement in U.S. history.
  • Sabatassos v. American Spectrum Realty  Represented individual investors in the breach of a million dollar promissory note.  First-chaired critical depositions of defendant’s CEO and CFO.  Successfully argued several hearings, including the motion for summary judgment.  Court entered a final judgment for the entire principal, unpaid interest, and attorney fees.
  • Confidential Represented a Fortune 100 company in the defense of a $76 million contract and warranty lawsuit resulting from a ship explosion.  Drafted successful summary judgment motion on wantonness, which threw out the possibility of punitive damages.  Days before trial, plaintiff settled claims with all defendants, including a take-nothing settlement for the client.
Professional Honors & Affiliations
  • "Texas Rising Star," by Thomson Reuters' Super Lawyers, 2017-2018
  • "Houston Top Lawyer" in Business, Civil & Commercial Litigation,
    H Texas Magazine, 2015
  • Board of Directors: Houston Bar Association Dispute Resolution Center
Presentations & Publications
Education & Professional Background
  • Harvard Law School J.D., cum laude, 2010 (Senior Editor, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy; Court Mediator, Harvard Mediation Program)
  • University of Cambridge, LL.M., First Class Honors, 2010
  • Brigham Young University, B.A., English, summa cum laude, 2007
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Jennifer Walker Elrod, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2011-12
  • Admitted to Practice: Texas, 2011; U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 2012