June 30, 2008

AUSTIN, TEXAS (June 30, 2008) – McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore today announced wins in two cases on appeal, one before the Supreme Court of Texas and a second before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 

The Texas Supreme Court decision in Guitar vs. Hudspeth County Underwater Conservation District is expected to impact groundwater policies in numerous water districts throughout Texas.

McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore partner Russ Johnson, who successfully argued the case before the Supreme Court of Texas, said the Guitar vs. Hudspeth County decision is significant for all property owners who may pursue new uses of groundwater.

“Before this case, water districts could treat landowners differently depending on their historic use of water for farming or ranching,” Johnson explained. “The Texas Supreme Court did a superb job in leveling the playing field for all landowners.”

In an employment discrimination case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Tratree vs. BP North American Pipeline, partner Carlos Soltero argued that BP’s treatment of Tratree violated the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967. The Fifth Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the lower court’s dismissal of all four claims.

“We appreciate the Fifth Circuit’s careful consideration of Mr. Tratree’s case,” Soltero said. “The reversal on the claims of race and age discrimination under ADEA are significant wins for Mr. Tratree, an African-American who was well qualified for his position when BP chose to eliminate his position and retain a younger, white colleague.

”In its decision, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that Tratree chose not to participate in a new classification and retain his job. The court pointed to the fact that BP’s written company policy did not support favoring new classifications. The collective bargaining agreement specifically provided that new classifications would not be favored over old classifications.

Karen Watkins, who chairs McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore’s appellate practice group, was very pleased with the wins.

“These cases are good examples of the willingness and ability of our lawyers to continue fighting for our clients when the odds are against us and the prospects are, from another’s perspective, not the best,” Watkins said. “Although we have assisted many clients in obtaining relief in these two courts, it was particularly satisfying to be able to help both Mr. Tratree and the Guitar family."


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