Sean Gorman, an acclaimed litigator and former managing partner of a national law firm’s Houston office, joined AZA because he wants to be on a team of premiere trial-ready lawyers. He focuses on aggressive advocacy for high-risk and high-value U.S. and international business disputes.
Mr. Gorman is recognized as a leader in Texas General Commercial Litigation in the 2014 and 2013 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published by London-based Chambers and Partners. He is recognized among the top lawyers in the nation for commercial litigation in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Describing him as “highly competent and successful,” Chambers USA 2013 reported one client’s particularly exceptional praise: “Sean has been like a miracle worker.” In 2014, Chambers again highlighted a client’s outstanding experience: “[Sean] achieved results in trial beyond my highest expectations — I was really impressed with his toughness as a trial lawyer. He’s also a skilled strategist in litigation — you don’t always get that combination together.”
Mr. Gorman has extensive experience in complex business litigation and arbitration matters, including contract, fraud, energy, real estate and intellectual property matters, for both plaintiffs and defendants. Mr. Gorman has represented clients based in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East in the energy, chemical, petrochemical, steel, communications, oil field services, medical products, software, accounting, financial services, construction, real estate and manufacturing industries.
As lead counsel, Mr. Gorman:
- Zeroed out a $93 million indemnification claim brought by one of the supermajor oil companies against another global energy company by developing arguments not identified by the client’s prior counsel.
- Defeated entirely a $6.4 billion claim against an international energy company for the value of an oil and gas concession off the coast of West Africa by establishing that the client’s U.S. subsidiary’s contacts with Texas, and the client’s own contacts with Texas, were insufficient to support the court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction.
- Obtained complete dismissal of a $46.5 million claim for fraud and breach of contract asserted against an investment bank in connection with the purchase by a private Chinese energy company of energy assets in South Asia worth around $1 billion.
- Achieved a $26 million win in what the plaintiff argued was a straightforward breach of contract case. We moved the case from state to federal court, used preemption arguments to knock out the state statute that enhanced the plaintiff’s claimed damages, convinced the court to construe the contracts in our favor, and then argued successfully that the remaining liability was the responsibility of entities that the plaintiff had failed to sue in a timely manner.
Blocked an attempt by one of the supermajor energy companies to saddle a state-owned energy company, in an ICDR-administered arbitration, with significant liabilities arising from an oil and gas concession in Peru.
- Recovered damages, greater than the client’s expected transaction profit, against a petrochemical producer seeking to use a claim of force majeure as an excuse for its non-performance of a petrochemical supply contract.
- Recovered full actual damages, interest and attorney’s fees for an international producer of steel plate and large-diameter pipe following a hard-fought contract dispute in which the calculation of our client’s damages required evidence in the possession of the defendants. The concurring appellate opinion called the case “an important and extraordinary case, which requires an opinion with precedential value,” and noted that “[a]mple evidence in this record supports an implied finding that [defendants] acted in flagrant bad faith during the discovery process.” As a result of defendants’ discovery abuse, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s order granting sanctions and striking the defendants’ pleadings.
- Resolved, for a nominal amount following an early and decisive jurisdictional victory, the significant class action and related litigation seeking more than $2 billion brought against a major utility and its gas trading subsidiary alleging manipulation of the California natural gas market.
- Achieved a highly-favorable resolution, shortly after being retained by a publicly-traded natural gas infrastructure and distribution company, of what previously had been a seemingly unresolvable dispute with a state-owned energy company that involved a costly and complex ICC arbitration.
- Turned the tables in an AAA-administered arbitration in which a leading provider of customer relationship management (“CRM”) software asserted a breach of contract claim against our client, a leading global provider of integrated enterprise network solutions, arising from a failed CRM software implementation. We counterclaimed for fraud, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract, and obtained an exceptional settlement from the CRM software provider in favor of our client.
- As co-lead counsel, achieved a significant settlement in an AAA-administered arbitration brought for our client, a U.S.-based petroleum company, against a state petroleum company regarding oil concessions in Latin America.
- Represented one of the leading industrial groups in India in pursuing antitrust and breach of contract claims against U.S. Steel, which agreed to terminate an anticompetitive exclusive sales agreement (freeing $180 million of steel plate production annually), forego $56 million in present value of past and future commissions and remove its director from the client’s board of directors.
- Prevailed in the trial court, and through the appellate process ending in the Texas Supreme Court, in a case for a market-leading provider of telecommunications hardware and services against the company it retained to provide outsourced marketing.
- Successfully defended a Netherlands-based international distributor of industrial steel pipe, valves and fittings from a $27.63 million breach of contract claim asserted in an AAA-administered arbitration brought by an American distributor of products for the maintenance, repair and operation of industrial plants (“MRO products”). The dispute arose from an arrangement under which the distributor of MRO products would market our client’s products, and was resolved on extremely favorable terms.
- Successfully fought a $3.5 billion national REIT to obtain wastewater removal rights for a large tract of land in the Houston metropolitan area.
- Represented a real estate development company in its successful efforts to protect, through litigation, a $72 million tract of land from the contractually-prohibited, non-conforming development of an adjacent tract by the largest mall owner and developer in the United States.
- Asserted breach of contract claims on behalf of a major international energy company against a petrochemical refining company that was using a claim of force majeure as an excuse for its failure to perform a petrochemical supply contract. After we filed suit, the defendant agreed to fully reimburse our client’s losses.
- Preempted a breach of contract claim against our client, a major international energy company, by pursuing a declaratory judgment action against the potential plaintiff to establish that our inability to perform a petrochemical supply contract was excused by a force majeure event at our plant.
- Obtained full compensation for a physician’s group whose practice management contract was unilaterally terminated by a joint venture composed of two major Texas hospitals.
- As co-lead counsel, resolved, prior to litigation, an intractable partnership dispute between two competing groups of partners in an investment management firm.
- As co-lead counsel, favorably settled claims brought by our client, a California-based owner of apartment complexes across the country, to recover damages caused by a failed roofing system.
- Obtained the complete dismissal of federal securities and related state law claims brought against a major financial institution.
- Resolved a $2.9 million breach of contract and fraud claim brought by a national energy services holding company and its pipeline subsidiary against our client, one of the three domestic suppliers of large-diameter transmission pipe, for $135,000.
- Successfully represented a leading hedge fund in defamation claims against a competitor, achieving a confidential monetary settlement and a public retraction and apology.
- Disproved claims of fraud and breach of contract asserted against a major international energy company arising from the removal of accumulated off-spec crude oil from an oil terminal.
- Obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of a manufacturer of vinyl chloride monomer in the first vinyl chloride monomer exposure case in Texas involving allegations of conspiracy among vinyl chloride monomer manufacturers, a claim sensationalized in the Bill Moyers program Trade Secrets.
- Obtained the complete dismissal of claims brought by former officers of a software consulting company asserting fraud, securities and breach of contract claims arising from alleged promises and agreements to grant stock options in the company.
- Successfully represented one of the two largest corrosion-control coating application companies in the United States against the manufacturer of a pipe-coating product that failed when used on a 150-mile pipeline project in Chile, achieving a confidential monetary settlement.
- Favorably resolved, prior to litigation, product liability claims asserted by a Midwest utility against our client, a manufacturer of large-diameter transmission pipe.
- Represented a major Hong Kong real estate holding company in a lawsuit filed by its commercial tenants in Houston alleging a pattern of widespread fraud in the calculation of operating expenses. The case was settled during trial for the extension of certain lead tenants’ leases at above-market rates and a mutual dismissal of claims.
- Refuted copyright infringement claims asserted against a real estate developer by an architect seeking statutory infringement damages regarding a high-end, 26 home development in the Post Oak section of Houston.
- Obtained the complete dismissal of fraud claims brought against the seller of an apartment complex by the California investment firm that bought the complex. The claims arose from alleged structural defects that, according to the plaintiff, were intentionally concealed. The client’s co-defendant, a national real-estate inspection firm, suffered a multimillion-dollar judgment for allegedly failing to discover the true condition of the complex prior to the sale.
- Represented a group of wealthy individuals in a purchase dispute over a major tract of land, resulting in the judicially-approved termination of the target contract between the landowner and a competing development group.
- Turned back an attempt by a software development company to assert copyright in a highly-successful database software tool, developed independently of the plaintiff’s efforts by our client, a leading database software company.
- Represented a legendary Texas oilman in a major dispute involving well operating expenses, resulting in significant savings to the client.
- Successfully represented a major U.K.-based corporation as co-lead counsel in a dispute with its joint venture partner over two massive quay container cranes installed at the Port of Houston, resulting in ownership of the cranes being transferred to the client.
- Successfully fought the FDIC on behalf of an investor group to gain control and then ownership of the unsold raw space, valued at over $21 million, in a 34-story luxury condominium tower.
- University of Houston Law Center, 1988, J.D.
- University of Houston, 1985, B.A.
HONORS & DISTINCTIONS
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business – Leaders in their Field – 2013 and 2014 Texas Litigation: General Commercial
- The Best Lawyers in America, 2011-2015
- Texas Super Lawyers, 2004-2014
- Who’s Who in Energy, 2012-2013
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
- Other federal courts
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