SDM Defeats Application for Temporary Injunction

On October 9, 2019, a week after an ex parte temporary restraining order was entered against SDM’s client, Viceroy Petroleum, L.P., SDM lawyers Santosh Aravind and Mary Byars successfully convinced a judge to reject an application by a landowner, Cloverleaf Ranch, LLC, for a temporary injunction that would have prevented Viceroy from conducting drilling operations.
Cloverleaf’s ex parte TRO effectively blocked Viceroy from crossing Cloverleaf’s property to access a drill site on a neighboring surface tract, even though Viceroy owns an undivided mineral interest underneath both properties. After an evidentiary hearing in the 240th Judicial District of Fort Bend County, the court denied Cloverleaf’s application for temporary injunction, finding Cloverleaf had failed to establish irreparable harm, and dissolved the temporary restraining order. SDM’s work in defeating the temporary injunction allows Viceroy to cross Cloverleaf’s property to conduct their drilling operations and to maintain Viceroy’s valuable mineral rights in the area.

SDM Wins Fifth Circuit Appeal in Oil and Gas Case

On June 12, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed an adverse summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of our client, EnerQuest Oil & Gas, L.L.C., in a lawsuit over an area of mutual interest agreement.

The plaintiffs claimed that EnerQuest acquired various interests that were subject to the area of mutual interest provision; EnerQuest argued that they were not.

After the district court ruled against EnerQuest on cross-motions for summary judgment, SDM appealed the case to the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit issued a published opinion agreeing with EnerQuest’s interpretation of the agreement, reversing the district court’s summary judgment order and rendering judgment and costs for EnerQuest.

SDM Lawyers Dan Bitting, Santosh Aravind, and Willie Cochran handled the appeal, with Dan Bitting arguing the appeal to the Fifth Circuit.

Copies of the SDM briefs can be found here and here. A recording of the oral argument can be found here

SDM Wins Pro Bono Criminal Appeal

On May 16, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the conviction of our client Coy Jones.  Following a trial in December 2017, Mr. Jones had been convicted on firearm and drug charges and was sentenced to 318 months in jail.  On appeal, which SDM lawyers handled pro bono, the Fifth Circuit held that Mr. Jones’s constitutional rights were violated when a law enforcement agent testified at trial to statements made by a confidential informant implicating Mr. Jones in the alleged crime.  That confidential informant did not testify at trial.  The court found that the error was not harmless, vacated the conviction on all counts, and remanded the case back to the district court for a new trial.

SDM Lawyers Santosh Aravind, David Shank and Willie Cochran handled the appeal, with David Shank arguing the appeal to the Fifth Circuit.   

Copies of the SDM briefs can be found here and here.  A recording of the oral argument can be found here.  A copy of the Fifth Circuit opinion can be found here.

SDM prevails in jury trial regarding breach of joint operating agreement

On April 25, 2019, a jury in Karnes County, Texas, returned a verdict in favor of a publicly-traded oil and gas company represented by Scott Douglass & McConnico lawyers. 

The lawsuit involved claims brought by SDM’s client against a working interest owner that had failed to pay millions of dollars in revenues and bills. The working interest owner countersued, alleging, among other claims, that SDM’s client had breached the applicable joint operating agreement.  

In May 2018, SDM attorneys Mark Hanna and Santosh Aravind obtained a partial summary judgment in favor of SDM’s client and an award of attorneys’ fees in an amount to be determined later. 

After an eight-day trial, the jury on April 25, 2019, provided a comprehensive victory for SDM’s client on all of the remaining claims at issue in the lawsuit. The jury determined that SDM’s client had not breached the applicable joint operating agreement, and also awarded SDM’s client $1.2 million in attorneys’ fees.

The trial team consisted of Steve McConnico, Mark Hanna, Santosh Aravind, Mary Byars, and Jane Webre.

Asylum Victory for Nepalese Refugee

Willie CochranSantosh AravindScott Douglass & McConnico lawyers Willie Cochran and Santosh Aravind secured a grant of asylum for “Raja,” a 28-year-old Nepalese man who was persecuted by the Maoists in Nepal.  Raja, a human rights activist, was attacked by the Maoists on three separate occasions before he fled Nepal for the United States.

Raja was born into the so-called “untouchable” Dalit caste.  Raja’s wife was born into the upper Chhetri caste. Raja and his wife were shamed and tortured by upper-caste Hindus and banished from their home village on account of their inter-caste marriage. Raja’s wife remains in hiding in Nepal.

Cochran and Aravind spent several months working with Raja, Nepali translators, and country conditions experts to prepare Raja’s case for a contested final merits hearing before a federal immigration judge.

Last week, during the merits hearing, the immigration judge ruled that Raja was credible and entitled to asylum relief. Raja is now on the path to permanent residency and naturalized citizenship. Raja’s wife is on the path to achieve the same status through the derivative asylum program.

Scott Douglass & McConnico represented Raja pro bono and partnered with American Gateways, a local nonprofit organization that provides legal services to low-income refugees and immigrants.

Raja’s name has been changed for the safety and privacy of his family.

Scott Douglass & McConnico Welcomes Santosh Aravind to the Firm

We are pleased to welcome Santosh Aravind to Scott Douglass & McConnico. Santosh is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer whose areas of practice include complex civil litigation and white collar criminal defense.  After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, Santosh served as a law clerk for the Honorable Julian Abele Cook, Jr., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2003 to 2005. From 2005 to 2009, Santosh was an associate in the litigation department in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, LLP.  At Latham, Santosh represented individuals and defendants in securities and complex commercial litigation and government investigations, including a former CEO against allegations of stock option backdating, an investment bank against allegations involving mortgage-backed securities, and an investment bank in securities litigation related to derivative warrants.  Prior to joining the firm in January 2015, Santosh served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for over five years.  While a federal prosecutor, Santosh investigated and prosecuted a variety of offenses including murder, racketeering, weapons and international narcotics trafficking, international money laundering, public corruption, organized crime, and securities, bank, and tax fraud.  Santosh has extensive trial experience, having tried eight jury trials and one bench trial. As an appellate advocate, Santosh has briefed and argued several appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.