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John F. Sullivan III

Partner
+1.713.815.7330
Fax +1.713.815.7301

For thirty years, John F. Sullivan III has been resolving complex commercial disputes for clients in creative and economic ways. He has achieved a litany of successes by his litigation skills, negotiation diplomacy, tenacity and integrity.

Mr. Sullivan has tried, arbitrated, mediated and negotiated innumerable disputes to resolution. He has tried well over sixty (60) cases to juries, judges and arbitral panels. He has a broad base of experience and focuses his practice on oil and gas matters. He is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in the separate fields of: 1. Civil Trial Law, and 2. Personal Injury Trial Law. He has prevailed at trial in several significant oil and gas cases in both federal and state courts. Mr. Sullivan has also won several multi-million dollar verdicts and arbitral awards for his clients. In addition, he has successfully defended countless cases to orders of dismissal or “take-nothing” judgments.

In 2017, Mr. Sullivan was again named:

  • One of the Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation (as published in U.S. News and World Report—an honor he has held since 2012);
  • One of the Best Lawyers in Texas by his peers (as published in the Wall Street Journal);
  • One of the Top 100 Lawyers in Houston, Texas (as published in Texas Monthly magazine and Super Lawyers magazine); and,
  • A Texas Super Lawyer in Civil Litigation (Defense) as published in Texas Monthly magazine.

Mr. Sullivan has litigated a broad array of disputes over the years, including in the following areas:

Oil and gas; commercial contracts; catastrophic accidents; products liability; fiduciary duties; indentures; environmental clean-ups; fraud; trade secrets, unfair competition, trade marks and intellectual property; legal and professional malpractice; class actions; sports; human rights; personal injury; corporate governance; shareholder rights; pharmaceutical; aviation; enforcement of and collection on debts, judgments and accounts receivable; indemnity; and insurance.

Clients appreciate Mr. Sullivan’s efficient approach to litigation.  That is, he seeks the best “business result” for the client as soon as possible. At the outset of each dispute, Mr. Sullivan carefully analyzes the matter and then closely confers with in-house counsel and the business decision-makers to agree to a desired result (or to an acceptable range of desirable results) and then maps out approaches to get there as efficiently and economically as possible. His mantra that a strong offense is also the best defense has served his clients well by achieving favorable verdicts, awards and settlements.

Mr. Sullivan is a frequent speaker, author and lecturer.  He is married to Kriste Sullivan, also a lawyer and the mother of their five children. They attend Grace Bible Church in Houston.  Mr. Sullivan also devotes considerable time and effort to pro bono causes including the representation of victims of human trafficking, persecuted immigrants seeking asylum and of children caught in the legal system. 

Professional Background

Mr. Sullivan has been a partner with K&L Gates’ Houston Office since the fall of 2013.  He was a partner at Watt Beckworth Thompson Henneman & Sullivan LLP from 2008 to 2013.  From 1987 to 2008, he practiced law at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, where he was a partner.

Achievements


  • Named one of The Best Lawyers in America (Commercial Litigation), U.S. News and World Report 2012-2018 editions
  • Selected to "Top 100 Attorneys in Houston," Texas Monthly Magazine and Super Lawyers”, 2014, 2016 and 2017
  • Named to Best Lawyers in Texas (Wall Street Journal, June 2017)
  • Selected to "Top Attorneys in Texas," Texas Monthly Magazine, October 2014, October 2015 and October 2016)
  • Selected to Super Lawyers (Civil Litigation Defense) 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (Thomson Reuters, published in Texas Monthly)
  • “AV Preeminent” Rating –- Martindale Hubbell Peer and Client Review Rating for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • Who’s Who in America
  • Who’s Who in South and Southwest
  • United Who’s Who, Honors Edition (2005 - 2006)
  • Featured in The American Lawyer Magazine: "The Asylum Wars" (February 2006)
  • Child Advocacy Award Recipient 2006 (American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division)
  • Featured in Houston Lawyer Magazine: The Year of the Volunteer, Local Heroes (May-June 2007)
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Award Recipient (2006)
  • The Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, Member (2008)

Professional/Civic Activities

 
  • American Bar Association
  • Texas Bar Association
  • Houston Bar Association
  • Texas Oil & Gas Association
  • Texas Bar Foundation, fellow
  • Houston Bar Foundation, fellow
  • Lawyers Against Human Trafficking
  • The Institute for Transnational Arbitration (Advisory Board)
  • FORGE for Families (Advisory Board)
  • Boys and Girls Country (Emeritus Member of Board of Directors)
  • Mountain Child (Board of Directors)
  • National Christian Foundation Houston (Advisory Board)
  • Grace Bible Church (Partner)
  • Pathways for Little Feet (Board of Directors)
  • Ananias House (Advisory Board)

Additional Information

In addition to involvement in his church and various ministries, Mr. Sullivan is an outdoor sports enthusiast and enjoys competitive tennis, recreational golf, fishing, snow skiing, cycling, hiking and attending sporting events. When he is not playing or watching sports, he enjoys cooking, reading and traveling. His wife, four daughters and adopted son also enjoy sports and travel.

Presentations and Publications

  • “Texas Oil and Gas Litigation Update” (co-presenter), 40th Annual Page Keeton, Civil Litigation Conference, October 27, 2016
  • "Current Issues in Royalty Litigation" (co-presenter); K&L Gates Lunch and Learn Series,  March 22, 2016
  • “EPC Contracting Issues in the Oil & Gas Industry” Seminar, Co-Sponsored by K&L Gates and Marsh, Houston, TX, November 2, 2015 (moderator)
  • “Texas Oil and Gas Litigation Update” 39th Annual Page Keeton, Civic Litigation Conference, October 30, 2015
  • “Injection Wells and Seismic Events: How are Courts and Regulators Reacting to this Emerging Issue?,” Presented at the 35th Annual Energy & Mineral Law Foundation Institute, The Greenbriar, White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., June 1, 2014
  • “Protecting, Overcoming and Distinguishing the Work Product Privilege in Texas,” University of Texas CLE Land Use Conference, March 27, 2014
  • Testimony before Federal Civil Rules Advisory Committee on proposed revisions to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Dallas, Texas, February 7, 2014
  • “A Litigator’s Perspective on the Current State of, and Recent Developments in, Arbitration,” (co-author), presented at 37th Annual Page Keeton Civil Litigation Conference, The University of Texas School of Law — CLE, Austin, TX, October 24-25, 2013
  • “Confronting the Human Trafficking Epidemic,” moderator, 27th Law and the Media Seminar, the Houston Bar Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Houston Press Club, February 2, 2013
  • “The Scope of the Work Product Doctrine and Attorney-Client Privilege Under Texas Law,” 36th Annual Page Keeton, Civic Litigation Conference, October 25, 2012
  • “Contractual Risk Management,” 2012 Higher Education Risk Management Conference, April 2, 2012
  • “Ins and Outs of Indemnity,” 35th Annual Page Keeton Civil Litigation Conference, October 28, 2011
  • “Threshold Issues in Trade Secret Litigation,” 32nd Annual Page Keeton Civil Litigation Conference, October 31, 2008
  • “The Subprime Crisis: Hot Issues for Officers, Directors and General Counsel,” January 16, 2008
  • “Litigating Against DHS on Arbitrary Denials of Specific Consent,” by AILA, December 7, 2007
  • “What is Pro Bono and Why Do We Do It?,” ACCDFW/Fulbright & Jaworski Pro Bono Summit, March 8, 2007
  • “Stock Options Backdating,” State Bar of Texas CLE Webcast, February 6, 2007
  • “The Enron Trial Verdict: What We Can Learn from this Landmark Case,” June 20, 2006
  • “Corporate Governance Roundtable,” by H.S. Grace & Co., October 5, 2006
  • “Stock Options Backdating,” The Houston Bar Association Securities and Arbitration Section, November 16, 2006
  • “The E-Discovery Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,” November 29, 2006
  • “The Odyssey of a Pro Bono Attorney Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children,” Key Note Speaker, Bi-National Conference on Procedures, Protections & Due Process for Unaccompanied Children, April 20, 2006
  • “Corporations Under Siege; Juror Perspectives of Large Companies,” May 2005
  • “Gandy: What Practitioners Would Like to Tell the Supreme Court,” by the State Bar of Texas, November 2004
  • “Trade Secrets: How to Stop Your Former Employee From Exploiting Your Most Valuable Assets,” Legal Issues Forum, May 16, 2002
  • “Indemnity and Other Extraordinary Contract Provisions,” May 1998
  • “Ethical Considerations in Client Reporting,” South Texas College of Law 1995 “Deposing Expert Witnesses,” Houston Bar Association 1992
With thirty years’ legal experience, Mr. Sullivan's practice has encompassed many areas of litigation. Below are representative matters:

Contracts

  • Representation of offshore subsea oil and gas construction company in breach of charter agreement at arbitration
  • Representation of manufacturer and installer of buoyancy modules for drill risers on four drill-ships for failure to pay for repairs
  • Representation of oil and gas lessee in evaluation of claims under Indian Mineral Development Act Lease
  • Representation of indenture trustee in suits by issuer of bonds against trustee and holders under indentures
  • Representation of oil and gas producer on suit by working interest owner on alleged improper deductions of costs
  • Representation of global real estate developer in suit on Company Agreement and alleged Joint Venture Agreement
  • Representation of a contract operator in suit against lessee for breach of mineral development agreement
  • Representation of an oil company in suit to recover for breach of Joint Operating Agreement (JOA)
  • Representation of oil and gas producer in suit by non-operating working interest owner in suit under Unit Operating Agreement and Gas Marketing Agreement
  • Representation of an information technology staffing company sued by a competitor for alleged breach of an asset purchase agreement
  • Representation of oil and gas company on breach of lease by lessor
  • Representation of oil field service company on claims for defective production equipment under purchase agreement
  • Representation of owner of petrochemical plant on anticipatory breach of long term supply contract by supplier
  • Representation of a large hotel chain in a suit for breach of a joint venture agreement by the purchaser of the rights of the joint venture partner
  • Representation of a major chemical company in breach of contract and UCC action for failure to supply styrene
  • Representation of a privately held company and some of its officers in a suit by discharged employees for alleged breach of shareholders’ agreement
  • Representation of a financial investment firm in a contract dispute with a consultant
  • Representation of an engineer over an alleged oral contract to pay a multi-million dollar developer’s fee for relocation of a purified terephathalic acid plant from France to India
  • Representation of a commercial builder sued by his partner for the alleged breach of the partnership agreement
  • Representation of an individual in a suit over breach of an oral partnership agreement to start new company
  • Representation of a manufacturer of ethanol in a suit for breach of contract and conversion against purchaser
  • Representation of a principal in defense of an alleged breach of a shareholder agreement
  • Representation of a commercial property developer in a suit over an asset purchase agreement
  • Representation of a telecommunications company in a breach of contract suit relating to development of a software system

Oil & Gas

  • Representation of a contract operator in a suit brought under a mineral development agreement to recover unpaid joint interest billings, COPAS and for fraud at trial
  • Representation of an oil and gas company in a lawsuit that alleged breach of JOA and fraud and seeking over $100 million in damages in federal court
  • Representation of oil and gas lessee in evaluation of claims regarding interests in the Bakken under Indian Mineral Development Act Lease
  • Representation of oil and gas company who served as operator on deep water Gulf of Mexico blocks in dispute regarding AFAs issued under JOA at IDCR Arbitration
  • Representation of oil and gas producer in suit by non-operating working interest owner under Unit Operating Agreement and Gas Marketing Agreement
  • Representation of offshore subsea oil and gas construction company in breach of charter agreement at HMA arbitration
  • Representation of manufacturer and installer of buoyancy modules for drill risers on four drill-ships for failure to pay for repairs in federal court
  • Representation of indenture trustee in suits by issuer of bonds against trustee and holders on indentures
  • Representation of oil and gas producer on suit by working interest owner on alleged improper deductions of costs
  • Representation of a manufacturer of ceramic proppant used for fracking operations in a dispute against a storage facility
  • Representation of an oil and gas company on breaches of processing and handling and farm-out agreements
  • Representation of oil and gas company on breach of lease by lessor
  • Representation of oil field service company on claims for defective production equipment under purchase agreement
  • Representation of oil and gas company to provide analysis of litigation risk for deduction of post-production costs
  • Representation of an oilfield supply company on claims for breach of agreement, fraud and piercing the corporate veil
  • Representation of an oil field service company in defense of a suit over a damaged well
  • Representation of a major oil and gas producer on claims of groundwater and soil contamination and issues of remediation, as well as indemnification rights
  • Representation of a major oil and gas pipeline company in a dispute over diminution in value of real property because of an alleged leak
  • Representation of a manufacturer of high pressure vessels for offshore oil and gas production platform in defense of multimillion dollar breach of contract action
  • Representation of an oil and gas company on a breach of operating agreement and mineral development agreement
  • Representation of an oil and gas company on claims to recover damages caused by defective fracking equipment
  • Representation of a major oil and gas exploration and production company over the death of a contractor on a production platform off the coast of Equatorial Guinea
  • Representation of a major oil and gas company in defense of hundreds of claims arising from catastrophe in Austria allegedly caused by defect in downstream product
  • Representation of a manufacturer of a component used in a petroleum refinery in Texas City that suffered an explosion
  • Representation of a major oil and gas company in defense of breach of warranty claims for property damage to their trucking fleet and loss of business for an allegedly defective lubricant
  • Representation of a major oil and gas production company in defense of claims by joint implant patients over allegedly defective lubricants used in the manufacturing process
  • Representation of a joint venture of petroleum companies to develop specialty chemicals for drilling
  • Representation of an operator in a dispute over AFEs issued under a JOA

Officers and Directors

  • Represented the management of oil and gas company against claims alleging misappropriation of funds in the joint account of joint interest partners
  • Represented officer of HF communication company on alleged fraudulent transfer of shares
  • Representation of the directors of a publicly traded company in shareholder derivative actions as a result of a going-private transaction
  • Representation of the directors of a closely held corporation in defense of shareholder oppression claims
  • Representation of the president of a company to joint venture in defense of claims brought by the joint venture partner’s principals alleging fraud and misappropriation of assets
  • Representation of the officers and directors of online furniture company in defense of breach of fiduciary duty claims
  • Representation of the officers and directors of a Fortune 500 company sued after merger agreement was announced

Intellectual Property

  • Representation of an international security company in a lawsuit over ownership of intellectual property used to detect the presence of a human heartbeat in a closed container
  • Representation of a telecommunications company in a breach of contract suit relating to development of a software system
  • Representation of a joint venture of two major petroleum companies to develop specialty chemicals on claims against a former employee and a competitor for misappropriation of trade secrets and tortious interference
  • Representation of an employees over the alleged misappropriation of trade secrets relating to prior employment with a global industrial valve manufacturer
  • Representation of a technology company sued for trademark infringement
  • Representation of company over theft of trade secrets and intellectual property

Class Actions

  • Representation of an insurance company in the defense of a putative class action seeking damages for the company’s deductible reimbursement practice
  • Representation of a retail sporting goods store in a putative class action relating to the sale of an allegedly unlawful product
  • Representation of an insurance company in a putative class action for its manner of issuing salvage titles after a total loss of vehicles

Unfair Competition, Non-Competition Agreements and Trade Secrets

  • Representation of a technology company on claims of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract
  • Representation of four individuals sued by an international valve company for alleged unfair competition
  • Representation of a fractional jet airline in defense of wrongful discharge claims
  • Representation of an employer against a former employee for misappropriating trade secrets in the high-tech industry
  • Representation of an employer on claims by a competitor of allegedly raiding key employees

Products Liability and Catastrophic Accidents

  • Representation of an industrial burner manufacturer on death and injury claims from a plant explosion
  • Representation of an industrial crane manufacturer in defense of a product liability claim in a wrongful death case
  • Representation of a major oil company in defense of product liability claims brought by survivors of over 150 individuals killed on a ski train in Austria
  • Representation of a personal safety equipment manufacturer in defense of wrongful death claim
  • Representation of a hotel in suit over death of a passenger on a shuttle bus
  • Representation of a helicopter company in death and injury cases
  • Representation of an industrial valve company in defense of products claims for catastrophic burn injuries
  • Representation of a manufacturer of steel rollers used in plastic plant in defense of products claims for disabling injury
  • Representation of pharmaceutical company against hundreds of suits relating to withdrawn medicines
  • Representation of a seat belt manufacturer in defense of product liability claims in several wrongful death and injury cases
  • Representation of a major oil company over death of contractor on production platform
  • Representation of a major oil and gas production company in defense of claims by trucking companies over defective lube oil
  • Representation of a major oil and gas production company in defense of claims by joint implant patients over lubricants used in the manufacturing process

Fraud and Collusion

  • Representation of a company in arbitration to avoid a multi-million dollar judgment resulting from collusion between the plaintiff and its insured
  • Representation of a company in a declaratory judgment action to avoid a large collusive judgment
  • Representation of a company in a fraud claim against an operator
  • Representation of the officer of company on fraud claims

Legal Malpractice

  • Representation of tax attorney in legal malpractice action for alleged improper advice and handling of tax affairs and returns
  • Representation of transactional attorney for alleged breach of fiduciary duties to other parties to partnership agreement
  • Representation of major oil & gas producer on claims of groundwater and soil contamination and issues of remediation as well as indemnification rights
  • Representation of commercial real estate owner sued for soil contamination and cost of remediation
  • Representation of major oil & gas pipeline company in dispute over diminution in value of real property because of alleged leak

Human Rights and Pro Bono

  • Representation of a boy from China who faced deportation by the U.S., even though “Snake Heads” in China (human traffickers) threatened to kill him when he returned
  • Representation of a trafficked boy from India to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
  • Representation of a teenage girl from Honduras who sought asylum in the U.S. because of abuse and torture
  • Representation of a boy from Iraq who boxed in 2004 Olympics in Greece, and who sought asylum because of persecution by radicals during the Iraqi War
  • Representation of El Salvadorian parents whose son died in a private prison in South Texas while in the custody of the U.S. Marshall’s Service
  • Representation of a Mexican mother of a young boy who was assaulted and molested at the U.S. border crossing while using the public restroom
  • Representation of a young boy removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter–day Saints in West Texas at the request of Texas State Bar president
  • Representation of family from El Salvador on asylum claims for religious persecution
  • Representation of family from China on asylum claims for religious persecution
  • Representation of 11 year old boy from Mexico for SIJS
  • Representation of 17 year old boy from Honduras for SIJS
  • Representation of Syrian family for temporary protected status (TPS)
  • Initiation of a program at Fulbright and Jaworski LLP to instruct detained children of their rights prior to appearing before an immigration judge unrepresented
  • Initiation of a program at Fulbright and Jaworski LLP for the pro bono representation of immigrant and refugee children seeking asylum or legal status