Jason R. LaFondSenior Counsel
Jason’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and appeals, and his experience spans all aspects of motions practice and appeals in courts across Texas and the country.
Jason’s appellate experience includes first-chairing more than 40 appeals and amicus efforts, in Texas courts from Edinburg to Amarillo and federal courts from Atlanta to San Francisco. Jason has authored or contributed to more than 50 appellate briefs and presented oral arguments in more than two dozen cases.
Jason’s most comprehensive appellate experience is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Texas appellate courts. He has first-chaired 18 appeals in the Fifth Circuit – including before the en banc court – and more than a dozen appeals in Texas appellate courts, including arguing before the Supreme Court of Texas four times.
Jason also brings significant familiarity with all facets of practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, including emergency applications, petition- and merits- stage briefing, and amicus efforts. He has second-chaired two arguments before the Court and successfully persuaded the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office to join his client’s side in one other case before the Court.
Knowing that the best way to win on appeal is to first win in the trial court, Jason also regularly leads pre-trial, trial, and post-trial briefing, including authoring and defending against dispositive motions and motions to exclude expert testimony. Most recently, Jason led a multifaceted effort in federal court to both prosecute and defend against Daubert motions addressing complex expert testimony concerning the human genome.
Prior to law school, Jason served on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means. Following graduation from the University of Michigan Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Allyson K. Duncan of the in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Judge Thomas P. Griesa of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Jason began his private practice as an appellate associate at Mayer Brown LLP in Washington, DC.
From 2016–2020, Jason was an Assistant Solicitor General in the Texas Attorney General’s office where he represented Texas and its agencies and officers in complex appeals. Most recently, he was a senior legal officer with the University of Texas at Austin, helping to guide the school through newly emerging legal areas, including its response to COVID-19 and the new name, image, and likeness regime in college athletics.Read More
- Utility Regulation / Statutory Interpretation Successfully persuaded the en banc Fifth Circuit to overturn a decades-old precedent interpreting a federal statute concerning water and wastewater utility service territory. Green Valley Special Util. Dist. v. City of Schertz, 969 F.3d 460, 466 (5th Cir. 2020) (en banc).
- Appellate Procedure Successfully persuaded the Supreme Court of Texas to adopt a version of federal courts’ Munsingwear vacatur, which allows for vacatur of a court of appeals’ opinion, not just its judgment, upon mootness in appropriate cases. Morath v. Lewis, 601 S.W.3d 785 (Tex. 2020).
- Oil and Gas / Texas Administrative Law Successfully defended the Texas Railroad Commission’s rejection of a competitor’s challenge to an application for a commercial saltwater disposal injection well permit. NGL Water Sols. Eagle Ford, LLC v. R.R. Comm’n of Tex., No. 03-17-00808-CV, 2019 WL 6336178 (Tex. App.—Austin Nov. 27, 2019, no pet.).
- Employment / Federal Administrative Law Secured a complete victory in a challenge to EEOC “guidance” on felon hiring. The Fifth Circuit agreed that the guidance was, in fact, a final agency rule that the EEOC lacked the power to promulgate. Texas v. EEOC, 933 F.3d 433 (5th Cir. 2019).
- Natural Resources / Constitutional Law / Statutory Interpretation In a landmark victory for conservation, successfully established that deer within the borders of Texas, whether free or in captivity, are property of the State. On that basis, the Third Court turned away a challenge to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s rules on surveillance testing of breeder deer for Chronic Wasting Disease. Bailey v. Smith, 581 S.W.3d 374 (Tex. App.—Austin 2019, pet. denied).
- Utility Regulation / Federal Preemption In a complex rate case, successfully overturned an adverse district court judgment holding that a FERC order preempted the Public Utility Commission’s rate determination. Entergy Tex., Inc. v. Nelson, 889 F.3d 205 (5th Cir. 2018).
- Constitutional Law Successfully defended the conviction and sentence of John King for the infamous murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas. King v. Davis, 883 F.3d 577 (5th Cir. 2018).
- Products Liability / Federal Preemption As part of a nationwide defense against products-liability claims concerning a spinal implant, represented Medtronic, Inc., the world’s largest medical device manufacturer, in the Minnesota Court Appeals, successfully defending the district court’s dismissal on federal preemption grounds of most of plaintiffs’ claims. Angeles v. Medtronic, Inc., 863 N.W.2d 404 (Minn. Ct. App. 2015).
- Civil RICO / Business Torts After briefing and oral argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, secured a multi-million-dollar settlement for CSX, Inc., one of the country’s largest railroads, on claims that a law firm had targeted CSX with scores of fraudulent asbestosis lawsuits.
Presentations & Publications
- “Supreme Court Update,” Texas Attorney General Constitution Law Conference, August 2021 (panelist)
- “A View from the States,” Restaurant Legal Summit, October 2019 (panelist)
- “Tips on Brief Writing,” The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute workshop at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, October 2019 (presenter)
- “Fifth Circuit Update,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce event at the Houston Club (January 2019)
- “Personal Jurisdiction and Joinder in Mass Copyright Troll Litigation,” 71 Md. L. Rev. Endnotes 51 (2012)
- “‘What Do I Do About This Word, “Unavoidable”?’: Resolving Textual Ambiguity in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act,” 109 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 48 (2010)
- “Injury-in-Fact, Justice-in-Fiction: Toward A More Realistic Definition of ‘Injury’ in the Context of Unenforced Criminal Laws,” 13 Rich. J.L. & Pub. Int. 1 (2009)