Verdicts & Settlements

Baton Rouge Law Firm wins Multimillion Dollar Jury Verdict against Celebrity Billionaire

Listen to the 8/14/17 interview of Attorney J E Cullens, Jr. with Dan Claitor about this notable decision.

On Friday, July 14, 2017, Baton Rouge law firm Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, LLC secured a jury verdict in excess of $20 Million against several defendants, but most notably John Paul DeJoria, founder of Paul Mitchell Studios and Patron Tequila and a frequent guest on the TV show “Shark Tank.” J.E. Cullens, Jr. of WPTC was lead counsel. DeJoria became a director of Latitude Solutions, Inc. (“LSI”), a publicly traded company, in October 2011. Although worth more than $3 billion according to Forbes Magazine, DeJoria had never served on the board of a publicly traded company before LSI. DeJoira was introduced to LSI by two long-time friends and business associates, Howard Appel and Ernest Bartlett, both of whom had checkered histories of stock manipulation and fraud.

LSI produced water-remediation units which used electro-precipitation technology to clean waste water in the oil and gas industry. In essence, an LSI unit would be placed near an oil well or fracking site to process and clean contaminated flowback water for reuse. LSI claimed that its water-remediation technology had the potential of effectively and rapidly cleaning so much water on site that it would “revolutionize” the way the oil industry handled waste water. Although most of the work performed by LSI took place in Texas and Oklahoma, LSI was based in Boca Raton, Florida.

In May 2011, LSI signed a multi-million dollar manufacturing contract with Jabil Circuits, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers with over 90 facilities worldwide and 175,000 employees. Although Jabil’s due diligence revealed that LSI’s technology had potential, LSI did not provide Jabil with access to its price model or financial data regarding its projected operational costs.

DeJoria owned about 11.5 million shares of LSI stock (or about 16% of the company). After LSI filed for bankruptcy in Fort Worth, Texas in 2012, the court-appointed Bankruptcy Trustee, Carey Ebert (“plaintiff”), hired special litigation counsel to file suit against a group of shareholders and directors, including DeJoria, alleging, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty. The Trustee also sought punitive damages against these defendants. At trial, defendants maintained that despite their best efforts and significant monetary support, LSI failed; that the business judgment rule shielded the directors and officers of LSI from any liability.

The one-week jury trial proceeded in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, and concluded on July 14, 2017. The jury ruled that DeJoria and others breached their fiduciary duty to LSI and aided in the breach of duties by others. The jury also awarded punitive damages against DeJoria and others. The jury awarded a total of $13.4 million in compensatory damages, and a total of $8 million in punitive damages. Plaintiff counsel anticipates an appeal.

CITATION: Ebert v. Appel, et al., No. 4:15-cv-225-O (U.S., N.D. Tx—Fort Worth, July 14, 2017).

PLAINTIFF COUNSEL: Walters, Papillion, Thomas, Cullens, LLC, Baton Rouge. Lead Counsel: J.E. Cullens, Jr. (special litigation counsel for the Bankruptcy Trustee).

PLAINTIFF EXPERTS: Robert Manz, certified fraud examiner and damages expert, BVA Group, Plano, Texas; Professor Marc Steinberg, corporate governance / SEC regulation expert, SMU Law School, Dallas, Texas; Ethan McBroom, water-remediation services expert, Amarillo, Texas.

Past Cases of Note

Although the firm focuses on major litigation, we handle selected cases of all sizes. A representative sample of our cases with verdicts or settlements in excess of $1,000,000 is listed below:

Total judge and jury verdicts in excess of $180 million as lead counsel representing the Commissioners of Insurance of Louisiana and Oklahoma, through their respective Receivers, in a plaintiff's capacity against one of the largest health care corporations in the nation, a Big 6 accounting firm, an international law firm, and numerous officers and directors of three failed HMOs in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. ranked this award as the 16th largest trial verdict of 2005 in the nation.

An $18,000,000 jury verdict for the wrongful death of a plant worker who died after being severely burned.

A $10,500,000 jury verdict for a man who was severely injured when his truck failed to negotiate a defective curve.

Confidential settlement of a complex Louisiana securities fraud case involving approximately $10,000,000.00 worth of private investments in a failed telecom company based in New Orleans. Our firm successfully represented more than 50 individual investors against approximately a dozen defendants, including one of the world's largest investment bankers and technology corporations.

A confidential settlement involving a third party Dram Shop claim under Texas law for the wrongful death of a young mother of two.

An $8,000,000 judgment for a man injured because of a defective roadway.

A $6,950,000 settlement in an automobile accident case in which a young wife and mother sustained permanent brain damage.

Jury verdict in excess of $5 million for the wrongful deaths of fraternal twins who contracted nosocomial infections following their births and treatment in a neonatal intensive care setting.

A $5,000,000 settlement of a class action in which 500 children became ill after being illegally exposed to a pesticide at school.

A $5,000,000 settlement for several workers injured by exposure to chemicals at a chemical plant.

A $4,500,000 settlement for a plant worker who was seriously burned in an electrical fire in a chemical plant.

A $3,600,000 settlement for the death of a worker who was severely burned.

A $3,200,000 settlement in an out-of-state medical malpractice claim involving a man who received severe and permanent damages as a result of substandard emergency department care.

A $3,000,000 settlement for several workers who contracted cancer as a result of exposure to chemicals in the workplace.

A $2.5 million settlement of a medical malpractice claim with Louisiana Patients Compensation Fund.

A $2,400,000 settlement of a legal malpractice case.

A $2,300,000 settlement for the family of a victim of Mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.

A $2,300,000 settlement of a toxic exposure claim brought by a group of workers at a chemical plant.

A $2,250,000 settlement for a young girl rendered paraplegic in a defective three-wheeler accident.

A $2,200,000 settlement for an electrical worker who sustained brain damage as a result of contact with electrical powerlines.

A $2,100,000 settlement for a young man struck by an 18 wheeler.

A $2,100,000 settlement for a teenager who was born with birth defects as a result of a defective drug his mother took during pregnancy.

A $2,000,000 settlement for the family of a man who lost his life in an explosion at a local chemical plant.

A $2,000,000 settlement for the wrongful death of a Louisiana man who died in an automobile accident in Iowa.

A $1,400,000 settlement for the family of a Jones Act seaman who died in an accident on the Mississippi River.

A $1,250,000 settlement involving the wrongful death of a motorist in an auto accident.

A $1,200,000 settlement for a person who was severely injured in an airplane crash.

A $1,100,000 settlement of a fiery crash of an 18-wheeler which killed the driver and severely injured a passenger.

A $1,100,000 settlement for a plant worker who was severely injured when he fell from atop a chemical tank under construction.

A $1,000,000 jury verdict in a wrongful death action against a patient's treating physician who was also the mayor of a local city.

A $1,000,000 settlement for the wrongful death of a man due to a defective highway intersection.

Over 25 medical malpractice cases with judgments or settlements in excess of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Cap of $500,000.

Other Significant Cases :

A multi-million dollar settlement of a Mississippi medical malpractice case against several physicians, a medical placement corporation, and a hospital for the negligent hiring of an unqualified emergency department physician.

A confidential settlement against a trucking company and its primary and excess insurers in a wrongful death case involving a prominent Louisiana attorney and his surviving family.

A confidential settlement against a law firm for it’s legal malpractice and an insurance company for its “bad faith” in defending its insured.

Several confidential settlements for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

A confidential settlement for a victim of sexual abuse by her psychiatrist.

A confidential settlement for several victims of sexual abuse by a Boy Scout leader.

A confidential settlement for several victims of sexual abuse by a high school football coach.

A confidential settlement for a victim of sexual abuse by her physician.

A confidential settlement for a victim of sexual abuse by her psychologist.

A confidential settlement for a victim of sexual abuse by her social worker.

A confidential settlement for a victim of sexual abuse by a family friend.

A confidential settlement for a victim of sexual abuse by a family member.

(Names of clients and defendants are not disclosed to protect the privacy of our clients, and in some instances, due to confidentiality agreements.)

(The amount of any settlement or judgment is dependent on many factors, which may include the strength of the case, the seriousness of the injuries, the amount of loss, the skill of the attorney involved, and in some instances the ability of the defendant to pay. Amounts shown do not include legal interest.)

Representative Sampling of John McLindon's Verdicts and Dismissals:

These are just a few of the many cases in which Mr. McLindon has obtained favorable results for his clients over the 24 years he has been practicing criminal defense.

In 2011, represented a Chief of Police in Louisiana who had been charged by a Federal Grand Jury with an 11 count RICO based Indictment. After a week-long Trial, the jury acquitted the client on all 11 counts.

In 2003, after many months of research and investigation by our firm, the United States Attorney's Office dismissed the case against former head of an East Baton Rouge Parish Agency, who was under investigation by the United States Attorney's Office.

In 2013, a former government official in a Louisiana municipality was arrested and charged with violating State RICO laws, along with theft and other associated charges. The client was presented to the State Grand Jury in East Feliciana Parish, and the Grand Jury returned a "No True Bill", which resulted in the District Attorney dismissing the entire case.

In 2013, the co-owner of a local business was involved in a contentious breakup of the business with his partner. Our client was charged with multiple counts of theft. The case was tried in East Baton Rouge Parish, and the Judge returned a verdict of "Not Guilty" as to all charges.

In 2006, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, we won the dismissal of a multiple count indictment against our client for violation of the Federal Speedy Trial Act.

In 2012, after a five year battle with the United States Attorney's Office, we negotiated a multiple count, arson and insurance fraud case down to a one count Bill of Information for which our client received probation.

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