Archives: Practice Areas

Trucking & Transportation

A variety of commercial entities, including some of the nation’s largest transportation and logistics companies, call upon Hartline Barger to provide transportation litigation defense. Our attorneys routinely handle complex litigation in defense of these trucking and transportation companies in a wide array of areas, including catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death claims, commercial litigation, freight and property claims, and labor & employment matters. We represent local and national motor freight carriers, private fleet operators, bus companies, and commercial auto insurers and insureds.

Our trucking and transportation attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a weeks to respond to catastrophic losses, frequently visiting the scene of the accident to begin coordinating the investigation and other pre-litigation activities. Furthermore, our attorneys regularly present on-site educational seminars to clients, highlighting recent and emerging trends in the transportation and legal spheres.

In order to stay at the forefront of legal developments in the industry, firm attorneys are members of and participate meaningfully in all of the large transportation industry associations, with many taking active leadership roles in speaking and writing on trucking law. Our affiliations include Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA), Transportation Lawyers of America (TLA), Texas Motor Transportation Association, Defense Research Institute (DRI), and Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM), to name a few.

Design Professional Malpractice

Architects, engineers, land surveyors, and other design professionals play a critical role in the construction process for commercial, industrial, and residential developments, from the schematic design through substantial completion of a development. In today’s environment, design professionals are subject to potential liability for professional malpractice claims involving alleged design errors, project delays, and inadequate construction administration.

Hartline Barger attorneys have decades of experience in defending these matters and providing risk management consulting to the design and construction industry. Our attorneys work closely with our design professional clients, delivering clear judgement in these otherwise mucky situations. We pride ourselves on knowing what it takes to build a winning case and being able to guide our design professional clients to the completion of a troubled construction project through pre-claim assistance.

Labor Employment Litigation

Companies have a difficult time finding employment lawyers who can manage their case efficiently, but with an eye toward trial.

Over the years, Hartline Barger attorneys have amassed extensive experience defending employers in labor and employment disputes. We handle these matters much as we do all litigation: we staff the case efficiently, evaluate the claim early, and pursue a creative resolution as soon as the matter is ripe.

As we investigate and develop a case, we never lose sight of that fact that some cases cannot be resolved and must be tried. Because we know what it costs to try a case, and what it takes to win, we are well positioned to know which direction to take. Should it be necessary to go to court, we have the knowledge and experience to try the case.

Because of our reputation, we frequently are able to resolve the case early and favorably. We have been successful in trial in defending against wrongful termination claims and have received a directed verdict in the middle of a trial involving a breach of employment contract claim. We also have experience handling lawsuits involving defamation, tortious interference, covenants not to compete, harassment, and discrimination claims.

As with all of our litigation, we consider a successful resolution as not simply winning the case, but managing the matter economically. We recognize that in these economic times, litigation budgets are tight. We have spent our entire history attempting to keep our overhead low, as well as our rates. Further, we never overstaff, both within the firm and with outside experts. We take depositions with a strategic purpose. We retain experts only as necessary and monitor their expenses. And most important, we listen to what our clients want, and design our defense plan and budget accordingly.

Oil Gas

Our veteran trial lawyers have been litigating toxic tort and environmental cases for the oil & gas industry for many years. We’ve represented domestic and international oil & gas exploration and production companies, equipment manufacturers, and refiners. Our attorneys routinely handle disputes and arbitrations involving domestic and cross-border issues, along with cases involving environmental claims, industrial accidents, property damage claims, fracking, personal injury claims, and regulatory disputes.

Consumer Commercial Collection Matters

Over the years, clients have sought our assistance in obtaining and perfecting judgments and in collecting on outstanding debts, liens, and judgments. We recognize that the process is cost sensitive, and the worst thing a creditor can do is throw good money after bad. So we begin with a comprehensive asset and public records searches. We contact the debtor, apply professional pressure, and try to work out a deal. Given our reputation, sometimes the appearance of our firm is enough to get the debtor’s attention. We engage in non-judicial collection efforts, as required by some states. If unsuccessful, we make sure the judgment is perfected and a lien is appropriately secured. We engage in post judgment discovery, garnish bank accounts, and send officers to seize non-exempt property. Often, when the property is seized, an agreement can be reached.

On a number of occasions, we have taken a judgment for costs or a counterclaim against a Plaintiff who lost their case against our client. We abstract the judgment and pursue collection to the extent desired by the creditor. Sometimes a debtor will contact us years later, seeking to pay in order to clear the lien.

Construction Litigation

Hartline Barger attorneys have extensive experience handling both straightforward and complex construction litigation and arbitration. In these conflicts, we have represented owners, contractors, architects, engineers and lenders in residential and commercial projects. We have handled a wide range of cases, from straight breach of contract matters to catastrophic failures involving tremendous economic losses as well as personal injury and death. Our breadth of experience also includes federal project construction disputes. We deal with forensic accountants to develop damage models, and we work with various other experts to assess causation and professional responsibility.

Our lawyers bring deep technical experience to the construction arena, along with vast trial experience. This experience is an asset in other forums as well. In the area of arbitrations, our extensive experience is especially important to our clients because most construction contracts now contain enforceable arbitration clauses. In addition to arbitrations, we are highly experienced in mediations and dispute resolution boards.

Our A/E & Construction attorneys are proud members of the AIA Trust Network, maintain leadership roles in various construction industry organizations, and are respected scholars in construction industry academia. At Hartline Barger, we know your industry, we speak your language, and most importantly, we’re here to help.

Warranty Deceptive Trade Practice

Our clients are often faced with the daunting task of managing large numbers of breach of warranty claims. These are often low-dollar claims where the defense costs can exceed the initial settlement demand. Sometimes, however, these lawsuits are brought by warranty “mills” — repeat offenders who can have an impact on the budget if not kept in check. Our breach of warranty team has vast experience in evaluating and settling these cases quickly when appropriate, managing them economically, and defending them aggressively if necessary.

The key to managing these cases is to evaluate them quickly and resolve them as soon as possible. It is also important to recognize the sincere customers and treat them as future customers. Likewise, it is important to identify customers who will never be appeased, and will only cost the client more money in the future. With those customers, we have incorporated in settlement agreements clauses that they will never purchase another of the client’s products.

Our warranty defense team also handles lemon law claims and state arbitration hearings. We recognize that these matters can be handled without a lawyer, and when we handle these matters, we avoid “lawyer-dress” and “lawyer-speak.” By following this pattern, our lemon lawyers have a long string of successes, and developed a strong relationship with the agency arbitrators.

Healthcare Litigation

Our firm has successfully defended healthcare-related industries, such as pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and producers of healthcare products (hip implants, pacemakers, heart-lung machines, etc.) in litigation, both in Texas and elsewhere in the country.

Not only have we defended individual doctors and nurses against malpractice claims made against them, but we have also represented hospitals and clinics against claims of improper patient care, premises liability, and improper Medicare and Medicaid billing. Furthermore, we have effectively defended medical providers (both individuals and hospitals) in Qui Tam litigation, in which the U.S. government is seeking to recoup Medicare and Medicaid payments that the government believes should not have been made.

More than a “medical malpractice boutique,” Hartline Barger is an experienced trial litigation firm with broad, across-the-board experience representing physicians, nurses, hospitals, hospital administrators and employees, clinics, nursing homes, and governmental agencies.

We coordinate our efforts with our clients, and we always keep our clients’ business interests first and foremost in our minds. Hartline Barger’s goal is to identify high-risk problems early and to provide economical and efficient solutions that will allow our clients to continue to provide high-quality healthcare at reasonable rates, with reduced risk of claims and litigation.

Professional Liability

Even lawyers need lawyers sometimes. Lawyers accused of mishandling their clients’ matters routinely turn to us to defend them. We know these types of disputes can be costly and damaging to our clients’ reputations and practices. Therefore, we work diligently to resolve them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

One of the challenges in Professional Liability litigation is that professionals are often so close to the underlying matter that it’s difficult to keep perspective while defending the case. The very skill set that makes lawyers effective advocates can be detrimental when they become the defendant and the witness. Our firm specializes in preparing witnesses of all backgrounds and skill sets to testify. Whether the client is a trial veteran, an estate planning practitioner, or an immigration attorney, we will train and enlighten the lawyer to testify at a deposition and in court.

Our professional liability defense is not limited to legal malpractice claims. We also defend non-lawyer professionals, including design professionals and those who work for non-profit organizations, against negligence claims arising from hiring, training, and supervision of others.

Insurance Defense Litigation

Insurance companies have sought out our trial lawyers for decades, especially when the exposure is high and so is the likelihood of going to trial. Frequently, insurers come to us after settlement efforts have been unsuccessful, and trial is imminent. We’re adept at quickly preparing for trial by marshaling the necessary resources and focusing on the key issues in the case.

Our insurance defense attorneys represent local, national, and international insurance companies on a variety of matters in both state and national courts. Insurance litigation extends across numerous industries and possible liabilities. Due to our expertise in a broad spectrum of practice areas, Hartline Barger attorneys are uniquely equipped to meet these wide-ranging needs. We have a consistent and proven track record of successfully handling matters ranging from trucking/transportation to labor & employment, oil & gas, premises liability, and toxic torts.

We’ve addressed coverage issues that arise under standard policies and first party property policies, as well as many specialty coverages. These include standard litigation issues such as choice of law and forum non conveniens, and duty to defend conflicts. Our goal is to analyze efficiently with an eye toward minimizing litigation and future liability, thereby saving insurers fees both now and in the future.

Class Action Multidistrict Litigation

Hartline Barger lawyers have handled class action & multidistrict litigation for clients across a broad spectrum of industries, from automotive manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies to funeral service providers, ranging from simple consumer actions to complex cases including anti-trust and Lanham Act claims. We have defended clients in class actions all over Texas and across the nation, recently defeating certification in Tennessee. Members of the firm have also served on steering committees for a series of nationwide class actions.

We approach class actions differently than other firms, realizing that each case is unique and analyzing the specific facts to determine the best strategy—including ways to favorably resolve the litigation prior to the class certification stage. Because of our distinct perspective, we have pioneered successful tactics such as attacking non-injury class actions on the basis of no standing to sue, resulting in early case dismissals.

Clients often believe class actions must be settled once they are certified. Not so at Hartline Barger. Although we know how to avoid certification and trial, we recognize that the best way to resolution is demonstrating preparation, willingness and enthusiasm for trial. Because of our deep trial experience, many clients have selected us to take a leading role in multidistrict litigation. Our lean, efficient approach and consistent results are proof that you do not need big firms – and their big costs – for these jobs.

Premises Liability

Our clients own property, and from time to time people are injured. Sometimes it is an employee; often, it is a visitor. These claims can range anywhere from a slip and fall to a toxic exposure claim. The issues range from causation, to damages, to the status of the injured party, to the owner’s knowledge of the dangerous condition. We explore these issues thoroughly and develop defenses with an eye toward trial, as well as an eye toward entering negotiations from a position of strength.

Our premises liability lawyers have represented national grocery chains, convenience stores, multi-family residences, manufacturing plants, and office buildings. Depending on the type of case, we design a strategy to serve the client’s interests, whether it is to minimize cost and achieve a quick settlement or retain experts and develop a solid yet efficient defense. Often, our reputation as trial lawyers is sufficient to force a quick and cost effective settlement.

Toxic Torts/Environmental

Hartline Barger’s experience defending clients in toxic tort cases is extensive, covering a broad spectrum of products alleged to have caused a wide range of illnesses and injuries under many different circumstances. Our practice is further distinguished by the fact that we have tried toxic tort cases in courtrooms throughout the country.

Two challenging aspects of toxic tort defense are that (1) “invisible” chemicals worry jurors and (2) plaintiff’s experts exploit this natural concern. The first step in defending against such an allegation is to thoroughly learn the science and technology involved. Because of our vast experience in product liability matters, our lawyers are skilled in diving into science and technology. We know that we have to be better prepared than the plaintiff’s expert in order to dismantle him on cross-examination, and for a Daubert exclusion. The second step is to recognize and assuage the jurors’ concerns. Should the matter go to trial, we have the humanity to acknowledge the plaintiff’s concerns, and, in a sensitive way, explain why the exposure in question did not cause the problems at issue.

Mike Terry in our Corpus Christi office has been trying asbestos cases for many years. Although some clients think these are unwinnable, Mike has won over 12 jury verdicts so far. Even better for his clients, these trial wins demonstrate that his clients are unafraid, which drives down settlement costs and defense costs as well.

While our toxic tort practice is uniquely diverse, our aggressive defense of our clients is a common element in all of the cases we have been involved in over the years. Our strong, assertive approach reflects our confidence, which stems from decades of experience defending our clients at every stage of a case, from pre-suit matters through verdict.

Our toxic tort cases include the following products and materials:

  • MTB
  • MOLD

Personal Injury Defense

Hartline Barger attorneys excel at handling the defense of personal injury claims, ranging from catastrophic death to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and burn injuries. Clients have sought out our trial lawyers for decades, especially when the likelihood of going to trial is high. We’re adept at quickly preparing for trial by marshalling the necessary resources and focusing on the key issues of the case.

Given the nature of many alleged liabilities and damages in personal injury cases, examining the evidence requires a sophisticated understanding of medical, scientific, and technical concepts. Our attorneys have earned an enviable reputation for their ability to go head-to-head with expert witnesses, such as engineers and physicians. More importantly, our talented lawyers are able to connect with jurors, simplifying complex issues and presenting them to jurors in a persuasive and understandable manner.

Intellectual Property

Patent attorneys and trial lawyers sometimes have different skill sets. Both are essential. At Hartline Barger, we believe in staffing cases with both. We do not follow a checklist of billable activities that will not advance the case. We treat every case as unique. That starts with learning the technology at issue and understanding how our client’s accused products may differ. We then analyze potential defenses and chart out an efficient plan of attack. We have a strong belief that maintaining constant credibility before the court is critical for our client’s success. We do not believe in filing motions with no chance of winning just because they are traditionally filed in patent cases. We have successfully moved for limited discovery and early “mini-Markman” hearings, resulting in enormous cost savings and a short cut to summary judgment.

Patent cases are often bet-the-company matters. Because our patent team is able to translate your highly technical information into a story that a jury can both understand and care about, your bet-the-company patent case is in good hands. We have handled numerous patent cases for automotive companies involving a multitude of patents and technologies. Not only can we defend and try your case successfully, our clients tell us that our legal bills are significantly lower than those they receive from other firms. As a result, our clients are able to more aggressively defend against both NPE and traditional litigation without paying high defense costs.

To review a sampling of the patent cases handled by our firm, a list of cases can be downloaded here.

Dealer/Franchise Litigation

For many years, Hartline Barger lawyers have represented the interests of manufacturers in conflicts with their dealers and franchisees. In Texas and in other states , the local dealers have strong lobbies and legislation which tips the scales in their favor. Our lawyers recognize this, and go to great lengths to develop the equity side of the case, which is often what the arbitrators are interested in.

We have served as national counsel for large manufacturers’ dealer conflicts, and have had multiple dealer termination matters and open point disputes for other manufacturers. Recently, our firm tried a case in East St. Louis for a manufacturer. After the General Motors bankruptcy, the corporation called on our firm to handle dozens of dealer termination arbitrations around the country. We were quickly able to adapt our extensive trial talents to the arbitration forum.

Commercial Litigation

Businesses sometimes become adverse with customers, dealers, suppliers and other businesses. Regardless of the industry, our experienced attorneys pride themselves on understanding your business’ unique concerns and issues. Furthermore, our firm recognizes that in these difficult situations your bottom line is still a priority. Our commercial litigation attorneys take specific measures to address this.

First, we respect your time and money, and treat it as our own. Second, we listen to your goal in the conflict, and design a plan that is respectful of that goal and your budget. Third, we use our vast litigation experience to create leverage you did not have before. Creating leverage may drive down costs, force early and favorable resolution, or even convert costly litigation into a profit center.

In multiple cases, we have developed and prosecuted counterclaims, having learned that sometimes the best defense is a strong offense. Too frequently defense lawyers are solely reactive, rather than proactive. Our business litigation lawyers recognize that the dynamics of the case can change dramatically by creating a proactive strategy early on, and executing it faithfully.

On the other hand, we understand relationships are important and litigation is not always the course to take. Sometimes the best solution is to seek out a result that benefits both parties, and allows the relationship to be preserved so both sides continue to do business. While it is important that your lawyers are able to be aggressive, it is equally important that they be able to mend bridges, rather than simply burn them. Our attorneys work hard to ensure they’re taking a course that is best for your business.

Product Liability Litigation

The firm’s product liability practice is one of the largest in the Southwest, defending manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers against claims ranging from relatively straightforward non-injury matters to complex multi-party cases. Our lawyers have defended cases from coast to coast, acting as local, regional and national counsel, and handling alleged defects relating to a wide variety of products. Our comprehensive services in the area of product liability include early case evaluation, case development and preparation, management of multidistrict and pattern litigation, as well as taking cases to trial when necessary.

Our extensive experience in product liability includes cases involving: