Steve Wingard presents at Annual Technology Law Conference
May 27, 2020

Steve Wingard presented on a panel in UT Law's 33rd Annual Technology Law Conference on “Legal Ethical Issues and Governance in the Artificial Intelligence Arena” in May 2020.

The presentation explored the types of AI being implemented in the profession and identification of the emerging services that will present ethical issues and challenges. It also examined the guidance available from the Texas bar and the ABA relating to AI and identification of areas where this guidance is insufficient to answer new ethical questions raised by AI.

SDM ranked Band 1 in 2020 Chambers USA
May 6, 2020

SDM is proud to be ranked Band 1 in two practice areas and with multiple lawyer rankings in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide. "They're extremely sophisticated and smart, and they're willing to try cases," notes a source from Chambers.

BAND 1: Litigation: General Commercial in Texas: Austin & Surrounds  

BAND 1: Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Oil & Gas) in Texas

In addition to the firm rankings: Steve McConnico and Kennon Wooten are ranked Band 1 in Litigation: General Commercial in Texas: Austin & Surrounds.

Flip Whitworth is ranked Band 1 in Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Oil & Gas) in Texas

Catherine Webking is ranked Band 2 in Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Electricity) in Texas.

Jane Webre is ranked Band 3 in Litigation: Appellate in Texas.

SDM Defeats Motion for Class Certification in HomeAway Traveler-Fee Dispute
April 23, 2020

On March 21, 2020, Scott Douglass & McConnico secured a ruling denying class certification on behalf of vacation rental marketplace, Inc. (d/b/a Vrbo), an Expedia subsidiary. The suit was brought by homeowners who previously offered their vacation properties for rent through HomeAway’s website. The plaintiffs claim that homeowners and property managers suffered damages when HomeAway began charging a small service fee to travelers who book short-term rentals on HomeAway’s websites. After SDM secured an order dismissing plaintiffs’ breach-of-contract claims with prejudice, plaintiffs sought to certify their remaining claims as a class action on behalf of U.S. residents who previously listed properties for rent through HomeAway.

In its decision, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas sided with HomeAway, denying plaintiffs’ motion for class certification because plaintiffs’ claims require inquiries into individual reliance and damages that “would result in individual mini trials for each member of the class.” The court also granted HomeAway’s motion to exclude the opinion of plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness on class-wide damages. Citing testimony that SDM’s David Shank obtained at the expert’s deposition, the court found that the expert’s opinion “is not relevant to the availability of class-wide damages and therefore is not relevant to the case.

David Shank is lead counsel for HomeAway on the case. The SDM team also includes associate Sameer Hashmi and partners Michael Merriman and Steve McConnico. SDM previously secured dismissal of other, related putative class actions filed against HomeAway and Expedia.