Excess Judgment/Punitive Damages Trials & Appeals

For 30 years Randy Roach has been honored to be the appellate lawyer added to trial teams by either an insurer or the defendant itself to help protect against an excess judgment and punitive damages.  Excess judgment cases present exposures that are excess of the defendant’s insurance coverage or net worth or both.  Similarly, cases that pose an existential threat to an entire business model or a product line pose similar excess judgment exposures.  One frequent example is where an insurer reserves its rights to later deny coverage in a case that presents punitive damage or insolvency exposures.

Randy Roach began his excess judgment/punitive damages practice in 1985 when he became a regional appellate lawyer for Pittsburgh-Corning in massive asbestos cases posing punitive damage exposures not covered by its insurer.  Defending PC for seven years against tens of billions in punitive exposures in a 13-state region including Texas, Randy developed one of the top punitive practices in the United States.  Legal arguments were developed to preserve appellate error regarding pretrial issues, such as bifurcating punitives damages into a separate phase of trial subsequent to the actual damages trial, the admission and exclusion of punitive damage-related evidence, and jury instructions controlling punitive liability and damage awards.  Developing constitutional challenges to punitives, identifying and preparing punitive damages expert witnesses, and working with C-suite corporate officers on punitives issues were all part of the skill set required to protect defendants from crippling excess judgments and punitive damage awards.

Following his successful work on behalf of Pittsburgh-Corning, Randy was next engaged by a national medical malpractice insurer to be the excess judgment appellate lawyer on trial teams where the insurer had reserved its rights to deny coverage in cases where punitive damages were sought in addition to massive actual damages.  Directly representing the defendant physicians as their appellate lawyer and punitive damages specialist, Randy identified, developed, presented, and preserved winning legal issues that often helped to produce a defense verdict or a favorable settlement prior to appeal.

Successful representations and the honing of the required skill set in those cases resulted in Fortune 500 corporations and top trial lawyers hiring Randy as excess judgment appellate counsel to identify, develop, and present legal rulings and factual presentations that negated punitive liabilities.  For example, Alcoa engaged Randy as its national punitive counsel regarding one of its product lines.  A Denver-based engineering and construction company engaged Randy to develop legal and factual defenses to its uninsured punitive damage exposure in a multi-billion-dollar chemical refinery explosion in Texas.  Randy’s client ultimately paid no money in any of the 1,200 cases.  Major domestic and foreign corporations continue to retain Randy as their appellate lawyer in trial cases presenting significant punitive damage and excess judgment exposures.  Just a few representative examples of such engagements are briefly sketched below.

Selected Gross Negligence, Fraud, and Punitive Damages Representations:

At Trial:

  • Designated by insurance company as appellate and punitive specialist in multiple professional negligence and gross negligence trials of physicians and successfully preserved and presented legal issues to favorably dispose of cases.
  • Engaged by major Dallas-based manufacturer as lead appellate counsel at trial and in 5th Circuit mandamus regarding a major False Claim Act case, obtaining declaration by the 5th Circuit of applicable law that subsequently resulted in reversal of $700M award.
  • Designated by oil and gas companies as appellate, fraud, and punitives specialist at trial to present and preserve legal rulings to ultimately reverse on appeal their fraud and punitive damages jury verdict.
  • Designated as appellate and punitives counsel in $2B fraud trial by top national landfill owner to identify and present legal argument that resulted in settling the case during second week of month-long trial.
  • Designated as appellate and punitives specialist at trial by national trucking company to identify and present punitives argument to assist in settling case during pretrial.
  • Designated as appellate and punitives counsel at California trial by national trucking company to present and preserve punitives legal rulings at trial and mandamus resulting in settlement during pretrial.
  • Designated as appellate and punitives counsel at trial by national coin-operated laundry company to develop and win a Motion for New Trial and disposal by court of fraud and punitive damage claims.

On Appeal:

  • Engaged as appellate counsel by one of the largest metals companies to appeal gross negligence and punitive damages for one of their product lines, including a Cert Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a finding of gross negligence as a matter of law. Randy subsequently became the company’s national punitives counsel regarding that product line.
  • Engaged as lead appellate counsel to reverse a gross negligence and punitive damage award against an oil transportation company, resulting in a reversal and rendering judgment of no gross negligence as a matter of law despite the absence of any objection at trial to the gross negligence opinion of opponent’s expert witness.
  • Engaged by national oil company to appeal fraud component of a judgment for hundreds of millions, Roach Newton obtained a new interpretation of key contract provision on rehearing fostering settlement after briefing to Texas Supreme Court.
  • Engaged as lead appellate counsel by national pharmaceutical company to appeal fraud and punitive damage award, resulting in reversal and render in clients’ favor in Texas Supreme Court.
  • Engaged as lead appellate counsel in Texas Supreme Court by oil and gas amici clients to successfully defend the insurability of punitive damages.
  • Engaged as appellate lawyer at trial and punitive specialist in multi-billion-dollar 100 plaintiff asbestos case resulting in zero punitive jury award based on arguments developed by Randy.
  • Engaged as lead appellate counsel at trial and on appeal by multiple oil and gas defendants found liable for fraud and punitive damages, resulting in a reverse and render of judgment on appeal in clients’ favor.
  • Engaged by nation’s largest landfill company as lead appellate counsel in trial and in court of appeals and Texas Supreme Court to reverse on appeal $50M punitive and actual damages award based on malicious defamation.
  • Engaged as lead appellate counsel for post-trial motions by apartment complex owner to appeal $51M punitive and actual damage award, resulting in lowering judgment to $6M, bond at $2M, and settlement before appeal.