Steven J. Mitby represents companies and individuals in high stakes business litigation throughout the United States.
A trial-oriented focus. In the past year, Mr. Mitby served as lead counsel in major federal litigations in Texas, California, Michigan, Delaware, and Georgia and a variety of state court matters in various jurisdictions. Unlike the majority of business litigators, Mr. Mitby regularly tries cases. Mr. Mitby’s trial-focused approach to litigation results in more efficient pretrial discovery and better settlements for clients because he addresses every case issue based on what will influence the outcome at trial. Mr. Mitby believes that the only way to achieve excellent results in every case is to be ready, willing, and able to go to trial.
Top accolades from peers. Mitby has been honored by his peers as one of the “Best Lawyers in America,” a Texas “Super Lawyer,” a “Rising Star” of the Texas Bar, and a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. All of these top distinctions are based on peer reviews within the legal community. The media have also recognized Mr. Mitby’s abilities. Mr. Mitby has been profiled multiple times in Texas Lawyer, which recently recognized him as an “excellent strategist” and previously named him “Appellate Lawyer of the Week.” Mr. Mitby has been featured in the Houston Chronicle, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and other national and Texas media.
Highest academic honors. Mitby earned two Harvard degrees and graduated at the top of his class. Mr. Mitby graduated summa cum laudefrom Harvard College (the highest academic honor Harvard confers on its graduates) and cum laude from Harvard Law School.
A diverse trial practice. Mitby handles complex commercial, energy, and intellectual property litigation across a wide variety of industries, including energy, oil and gas, software, real estate development, health care and medical equipment, banking, and finance. Mr. Mitby has developed a reputation for successfully representing plaintiffs in commercial and intellectual property cases involving large damages.
These accolades reflect the fact that Mr. Mitby has achieved extraordinary results for clients through creative trial and pretrial strategies.
Largest intentional tort verdict in Texas last year. Mr. Mitby won an $11.4 million jury verdict for business disparagement in a dispute between two Houston technology companies. This win was the largest intentional tort verdict in Texas in 2014 and easily the largest reputation-based tort verdict in Texas for the past decade. Mr. Mitby achieved a finding of actual malice and punitive damages. This win was even more remarkable because the defendant had refused to offer any money in settlement and asserted numerous counterclaims (all of which resulted in no liability against Mr. Mitby’s client).
Beating big companies and big law firms. Mr. Mitby regularly represents companies in complex commercial and intellectual property disputes against the largest companies in the world. Mr. Mitby won a favorable settlement for Versata, Inc. in a license dispute with Equifax, Inc. in federal court in Atlanta. Mr. Mitby achieved this result by developing a creative damages model based on copyright, trade secret, and contract claims. The case settled favorably for a confidential amount after Mr. Mitby took the deposition of Equifax’s expert. Mr. Mitby is currently lead counsel in a software dispute with Ford Motor Company, which USA Today has called a “billion dollar” case. Mr. Mitby also represents Idera, Inc. against United Health Group.
Successes in the energy and petrochemical industries. Mr. Mitby has successfully represented leading energy and petrochemical companies in contract, oil and gas, and employment litigation..
Defending legitimate competition. Mr. Mitby regularly defends companies in patent litigation brought by non-practicing entities. In 2014, Mr. Mitby successfully defended Ignite, Inc., a Plano, Texas-based software company against patent infringement claims by a non-practicing entity in Delaware. Mr. Mitby developed an invalidity defense, arguing that the accused features were part of commercial software by Ignite that predated the plaintiff’s patents. This defense resulted in a favorable settlement before the Markman hearing.
Cutting-edge software licensing issues. Mr. Mitby successfully defended Versata Software in patent and copyright litigation in the Northern District of California brought by XimpleWare Corporation. This case was heavily covered by industry media and involved the interpretation of the controversial “General Public License” developed by the Free Software Foundation. The case settled on favorable terms to Versata shortly after Mr. Mitby took the plaintiff’s deposition.
Probate disputes. In 2014, Mr. Mitby achieved a successful settlement in the defense of a high profile will contest in Jefferson County, Texas. Mr. Mitby entered the case to defend the will against challenges from various family members. Under the settlement, his client received more than he would have obtained under the will and related beneficiary designations that Mr. Mitby was defending.
Parachuting into cases to serve as lead trial counsel. Besides these recent results, Mr. Mitby has been called in at the last-minute by other lawyers to try cases. In December 2010, for example, he was hired less than one month before trial to defend a company in a multimillion dollar shareholder dispute. With Mr. Mitby as lead counsel, the company not only won on every single issue at trial, but was awarded $750,000 in attorney’s fees.
Large damages models. Mr. Mitby has also developed special focus in patent infringement and technology-related litigation. He has been trial counsel in three patent trials, one of which involved damages claims in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2011, Mr. Mitby was instrumental in winning the second-largest patent infringement verdict in the United States – a $392 million award in favor of his client against SAP Americas. Mr. Mitby played a leading role in developing the lost profits damages model.
Appellate victories. In addition to his trial practice, Mr. Mitby has achieved significant appellate victories. In 2010, Texas Lawyer named Steven “Appellate Lawyer of the Week” for his Fifth Circuit victory in a first-impression ERISA case against Continental Airlines, which garnered national and international press coverage. (Read about this appellate case here and hear Mr. Mitby’s oral argument here.) In this case, Mr. Mitby persuaded the drial court and court of appeals that ERISA plan administrators are not allowed to deny a benefits distribution based on their belief that the participants engaged in a “sham” divorce to obtain a larger distribution.
Protecting clients’ reputations in court and the media. In keeping with AZA’s longstanding tradition of representing individual clients in sensitive legal matters, Mr. Mitby also represents corporate executives and public officials in high profile cases. In 2011, for example, Mr. Mitby successfully represented the CEO of the Houston Port Authority in criminal, county attorney, and internal investigations of the Port that received extensive press coverage in Houston. In the midst of a political and media firestorm, Mr. Mitby vindicated his client’s reputation by obtaining a rare letter of exoneration from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which was widely publicized in the Houston Chronicle as well as Houston radio and television stations. (Read about this case here.) Mr. Mitby has achieved many similarly successful results for individual clients on a confidential basis.
Publications and CLE presentations. Mr. Mitby has published and taught CLEs in a variety of fields, including intellectual property, tort reform laws, and defamation torts. Examples include Mr. Mtiby’s articles: “Navigating Hypothetical Negotiations,” Managing Intellectual Property, October 2008, and “The New Presumption of Adequate Warnings in Texas Pharmaceutical Litigation,” Texas Bar Journal, July 2006.
Legal community involvement. Mr. Mitby is an active member of the Garland Walker Inn of Court, the Houston Bar Association, the Texas Bar Foundation, and the State Bar of Texas. He was also invited to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum based on his trial victories.