The Dallas trial team of Bob Bragalone and Ryan Fellman secured a directed verdict in favor of their property management company client in a commercial dispute following a jury trial in Williamson County, Texas.
Gordon & Rees inherited a case weeks from a jury trial setting, in which the client was sued for negligence, gross negligence, violations of statutes, deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, treble damages, punitive damages, and more than $130,000 in attorney’s fees. The client’s prior lawyer filed no affirmative defenses, took no depositions, agreed to a spoliation instruction against the client, and did not designate any experts despite Plaintiff having designated her own expert.
The firm was brought in to defend the client and try the case only weeks before trial and well after the discovery period had closed. Despite these facts, on the third day of trial, when the Plaintiff rested, the firm prevailed on directed verdict on all claims, including an affirmative defense that the team pled for excessive demand. The Gordon & Rees team also prevailed on its request for attorney’s fees and obtained a finding of bad faith.
The lawsuit arose out of the failure of a rented property’s HVAC system mere days before the record-breaking 2021 Texas winter storm. When the heat was not able to be restored, the plaintiff abruptly vacated and declared a breach of the lease. At trial, before Plaintiff’s counsel could taint the venire with claims of “gross negligence,” Gordon & Rees prevailed on its motion in limine based on the economic loss doctrine, as Plaintiff had no evidence of physical injury or property damage, a ruling that ultimately led to the directed verdict on negligence and gross negligence. The remaining claims fell prey to the directed verdict motion on the strength of the witness examinations and the cross-examinations of the Plaintiff and her attorney.