Norton Rose Fulbright trial team obtains favorable verdict for ExxonMobil in eight-figure indemnity suit

Business April 26, 2016

A Norton Rose Fulbright commercial disputes team prevailed in a jury trial for client ExxonMobil in an eight-figure indemnity suit. After a short deliberation, the jury determined that the defendants—a Fort Worth energy company and its principals—are obligated to indemnify ExxonMobil for two eight-figure settlements.

The lawsuit arose from two Louisiana “legacy” lawsuits in which landowners sought more than US$5 billion in damages from ExxonMobil to remediate alleged environmental contamination. Pursuant to a 1994 contract, ExxonMobil requested that the defendants indemnify ExxonMobil against the Louisiana lawsuits. The defendants rejected the requests, and ExxonMobil ultimately settled the Louisiana lawsuits for substantial amounts.

ExxonMobil filed suit against the defendants in Harris County seeking indemnity for the settlement payments. The defendants then argued that they had not agreed to indemnify ExxonMobil for the source of the alleged contamination and that the settlements were not reasonable, prudent nor made in good faith. The jury rejected these arguments and ruled in favor of ExxonMobil on all issues.

Richard Krumholz, Norton Rose Fulbright’s US Head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation, commented:

"We are pleased with the jury's decision and that the defendants must indemnify ExxonMobil for the settlements. I could not be more proud of our trial team that stepped up in every way to achieve this success."

The case was tried in the 189th Civil District Court before Judge Bill Burke.

The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by Reagan Brown and Seth Isgur. Katherine Mackillop and Philip Tarpley provided assistance.