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AZA Attorney Featured in National News Coverage of ‘Meritless’ Appeal to Texas Supreme Court
March 10, 2014

HOUSTON – Following her successful defense of a client in a 2011 non-compete case, AZA attorney Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher characterized the plaintiff’s petition for review by the Texas Supreme Court as “meritless” in a Feb. 19 story in the legal publication Law360, “Oilfield Co. Asks Texas Justices to Nix Ex-Worker’s Fee Award.”

The article explores the petition for review of Sentinel Integrity Solutions Inc. v. Mistras Group Inc., et al., and the opposing counsel’s argument that the jury should not have been allowed to award attorneys’ fees as the state’s Covenant Not to Compete Act only allows for the award of fees “actually incurred” by an employee in litigation involving non-compete agreements.

The Law360 article quotes Ms. Fletcher as saying, “Sentinel’s argument that the jury should not have determined the reasonable amount of attorneys’ fees is wrong; both the jury charge (to which Sentinel did not object) and the trial court’s final judgment are entirely consistent with Texas law.”

She also points out that Texas law also is clear that the defendant “actually incurred” attorneys’ fees, and the trial court record is “replete with evidence that [they] did.”

“Sentinel was relentless in this pursuit, aggressively litigating this unenforceable non-compete in a way that was either designed to or certain to increase the cost of the litigation,” Ms. Fletcher concludes.

In finding that neither Mistras nor its employees violated Sentinel’s overly broad non-compete agreement in the hiring of a former Sentinel employee, the jury awarded the employee $750,000 in legal fees for defending the claims through the time of trial, and additional attorneys’ fees if Sentinel filed an unsuccessful appeal. Sentinel had sought damages of more than $9 million. The ruling was the fourth-largest defense verdict delivered in Texas in 2011.

Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property, securities fraud, construction and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized by Chambers USA 2014 as among the best in Texas commercial law and by U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms in the 2014 listing of the nation’s leading law firms. National corporate counsel named AZA one of the country’s best in client service among law firms serving the Fortune 1000. AZA has been hired on many occasions by the same companies the firm has prevailed against at trial. Read more at https://www.azalaw.com.

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