Robert K. Ellis
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.
- Confidential. Represented a Fortune 50 company in prosecuting and successfully resolving its trademark and contract rights in a dispute with another Fortune 500 company, allowing our client to protect its valuable intellectual property while preserving a vital business relationship.
- 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.
- Confidential. Represented a Fortune 100 company in the defense of a proposed nationwide products liability class action. After winning discovery limitations and filing a motion to dismiss, the defendants obtained a satisfactory settlement resolving all claims.
- American Airlines v. Sabre. Represented American in a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against the two largest U.S. global distribution systems arising from the GDSs’ efforts to stop American from using competitive ticket distribution technology. Drafted important briefs in the case, including summary-judgment motions and responses. In 2012, after three weeks of trial to a Texas state court jury, the firm secured a substantial settlement of American’s state antitrust claims against Sabre, including a renewed multi-year distribution agreement for American’s flights, negotiation for future technology services, and a confidential monetary payment that press reports estimated at mid-nine figures. The firm also secured a favorable settlement in federal court of American’s federal claims against Travelport, including a renewed distribution agreement and a confidential monetary payment.
- Neon v. IBM. Assisted in the defense of IBM in a multi-billion dollar antitrust suit brought by Neon. Briefed the firm’s partners for, and second-chaired, the depositions of several Neon witnesses. Days before trial, Neon agreed to a permanent injunction by which it would no longer sell the mainframe software at issue in the litigation. No money exchanged hands between the parties.
- "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
- "Phone Records Should Be On Your Discovery Wish List," The Texas Lawbook, July 25, 2015 (co-author)
- “Imperfect Minimalism: Unanswered Questions in Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattell, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 1396 (2008)”, 32 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 1187 (2009)
- 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