Nancy L. Patterson, a seasoned trial lawyer with more than 30 years of experience, has achieved notable victories for clients with a win rate of over 90%. She has tried more than 30 cases in state and federal courts across the United States and has arbitrated more than 30 additional cases relating to commercial/business, products liability/life sciences, employment, insurance coverage, personal injury, and employee benefits matters. These cases have included individual plaintiffs, multiple plaintiffs, and class and collective actions for a number of national and global companies. Nancy holds the distinction of being Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Nancy also has been ranked by Chambers USA annually since 2005, has been recognized in Super Lawyers each year since 2003, and has been named to US News/Best Lawyers since 2003.
Earlier in her career, Nancy focused on employment law matters and regularly litigated discrimination, retaliation, and sexual/racial harassment claims arising under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Texas Labor Code. She also has handled wage and hour individual and collective actions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act and has had the rare experience of having tried two such cases to verdict. For the past 15 years, Nancy’s trial practice has expanded significantly to focus on complex commercial/business, pharmaceutical/products liability, insurance recovery, and personal injury litigation. She has been lead counsel in cases across the United States involving breach of contract, fraud, fraudulent transfer, false claims, public nuisance, and breach of fiduciary claims. She also handles complex negligence, personal injury, and defamation claims.
Notable among her representations are leading a multi-office team as trial counsel in achieving an unprecedented victory on behalf of an international food and beverage company in connection with a seven-year battle over funding of legacy product liabilities (including asbestos and environmental claims) by one of our client’s legacy subsidiaries. As claimant, our client asserted fraudulent transfer claims against another sizable publicly traded company based on a purchase agreement involving the legacy subsidiary. The arbitration, which took place at the American Arbitration Association’s International Centre for Dispute Resolution in New York, included testimony presented by 20 fact and expert witnesses, including the respondent’s former chief executive officer, chief financial officer, general counsel, and lead director. Topics included insurance coverage/policy interpretation, future asbestos claims liability estimation, and corporate governance. Following a two-week arbitration hearing, a three-arbitrator panel ordered various subsidiaries of the respondent to pay nearly $293 million into a trust to satisfy future estimated product liability claims against our client’s legacy subsidiary and to release another nearly $50 million to the trust from an escrow account controlled by the respondent. A state judge in Houston confirmed the arbitration award in 2018.
Nancy also served as a lead trial counsel in two high-profile trials representing publicly traded pharmaceutical companies/manufacturers of branded and generic opioid medicines in defense of claims pending in In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL No. 2804, the federal opioid multidistrict litigation pending in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, et al.
In the Ohio case, Nancy was lead counsel in the initial Track 1 bellwether trial set for October 2019, which involved claims brought by Cuyahoga and Summit counties. The plaintiffs were seeking more than $1 billion in damages based on their claims that included public nuisance, fraud, and violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Nancy was part of the joint defense lead counsel team that conducted voir dire and jury selection for the case, which ultimately settled on the morning opening statements were to be delivered in Cleveland.
In the Oklahoma trial, Nancy was co-lead trial counsel in the first opioid case to proceed to trial in May 2019. Our aggressive and strategic approach to discovery, particularly expert discovery, revealed key weaknesses in the state’s legal and factual claims, which led the Oklahoma attorney general to ultimately drop all claims other than the public nuisance claim (which included dropping his jury demand). Thereafter, our team secured a settlement on the eve of a nationally televised 10-week trial.
Nancy now serves as lead trial counsel in opioid litigation pending in nine states, including cases filed by five state attorneys general and several dozen counties, municipalities, and hospital districts. These cases, which have trial settings through 2022, assert claims including public nuisance, fraud, fraudulent advertising, negligence, and violations of various state statutes.
Commercial/Business Litigation and Insurance Recovery Litigation
Co-lead trial counsel with a multidisciplinary Morgan Lewis team representing ITT Corporation in a four-week bench trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court–Complex Division in 2018 seeking declaratory relief on a variety of complex insurance coverage issues, including duty to cooperate, trigger of coverage, allocation, and exhaustion. ITT prevailed on all claims.
Lead arbitration counsel on behalf of ITT Corporation in a dispute with insurers over several million dollars of historic coverage obligations related to past and future asbestos liabilities incurred by several legacy companies. This matter was favorably resolved on behalf of ITT on the eve of a 2018 arbitration hearing in Chicago.
Lead counsel for one of the world’s leading computer technology companies in defense of a multimillion-dollar dispute over commission payments allegedly owed to a highly compensated senior software sales team leader under a complex commission/incentive plan. Nancy negotiated a favorable resolution following extensive deposition and electronic document discovery.
Lead counsel for a large environmental services company in an action filed in New York state court by a municipality alleging breach of contract, fraud, and negligence in connection with a multi-year agreement to provide management, operations, and maintenance services for a large biosolids facility. A favorable confidential settlement was negotiated following discovery and favorable pretrial rulings.
Lead counsel for a prominent publicly traded energy company in defense of separate arbitration claims brought by three highly compensated former senior executives alleging breach of their executive employment and severance agreements.
Lead counsel for a large specialty physician practice in defense of breach of contract, fraud, and discrimination claims brought by a former physician partner. Following an eight-day arbitration in Austin, Texas, Nancy obtained a decision dismissing all claims.
Employment Litigation and Internal Investigations
Obtained a favorable and unprecedented resolution as lead counsel for EGL Eagle Global Logistics, a publicly traded international freight forwarding/logistics company, in defense of a lengthy nationwide systemic discrimination/retaliation investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) based on a commissioner’s charge. The investigation and resulting litigation lasted nearly a decade and was ultimately resolved favorably based on Nancy’s negotiation of a unique and unprecedented consent decree resolution with the EEOC.
Lead trial counsel for EGL Eagle Global Logistics in a Title VII race discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation case filed by the EEOC in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Nancy tried and won the case following a week-long jury trial. This case was selected by The National Law Journal as one of The Top 50 Defense Verdicts of the year.
Lead trial counsel for a large financial services firm in defense of a multimillion-dollar claim in federal court in Oklahoma brought by a former financial advisor alleging gender discrimination and retaliation following her termination. Following extensive fact and expert discovery and the plaintiff’s abandonment of certain claims, Nancy negotiated a favorable settlement on the eve of trial.
Lead trial counsel for a large publicly traded healthcare company in defense of a disability discrimination/retaliation case in federal court in Florida. Nancy tried and won the eight-day jury trial with all claims rejected by the jury.
Lead trial counsel for a large publicly traded company in defense of claims filed by the US Department of Labor on behalf of a former employee who alleged he had been terminated in violation of Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety & Health Act for making complaints about alleged workplace safety issues. Nancy tried and won the bench trial in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Lead trial counsel for an oilfield equipment manufacturing company in a Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff claimed she had been misclassified as an exempt manager but was, instead, performing non-exempt work. Nancy tried the case and obtained a jury verdict dismissing all claims. The same plaintiff later filed a pregnancy discrimination/retaliation lawsuit in Texas state court. Nancy tried that case and obtained a complete defense verdict following a six-day jury trial.
Lead counsel for a prominent financial services firm in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration involving breach of contract and wrongful termination claims filed by a former financial advisor. Nancy obtained an arbitration award dismissing all claims.
Lead trial counsel for large publicly traded healthcare company in a disability and age discrimination case filed in a Texas state court. Nancy obtained a complete defense verdict following a six-day jury trial.
Retained by several boards of directors to conduct confidential pre-litigation investigations regarding high-stakes/sensitive matters, including sexual harassment/sexual assault claims and ethics violations brought against senior executives in large organizations and senior partners at prominent law firms. Nancy procured favorable confidential settlements in each of these matters, avoiding public litigation.
Served as lead trial and/or arbitration counsel in more 40 additional cases that were successfully tried/arbitrated to jury verdict or a favorable arbitration order. Nancy also has procured summary judgments or favorable settlements in many other cases.
Business Competition/Trade Secrets Litigation
Lead trial counsel for a prominent international energy services company in a case filed against a former senior sales employee alleging theft of confidential and proprietary trade secret information, as well as violation of a noncompete agreement following the employee’s resignation and announcement of new employment with a primary competitor. Nancy negotiated a favorable permanent injunction and settlement, which secured and protected the sensitive information and enforced the noncompete agreement.
Personal Injury/Tort Litigation
Lead trial counsel for several leading international energy and energy services companies and their contractors in defense of a novel case filed in Texas state court by an employee working on an offshore drilling vessel who claimed she had been secretly filmed in her private quarters with a camera hidden by another crew member. The contentious discovery phase included nearly 40 depositions, including extensive expert testimony, in various locations around the United States. The case was ultimately settled on the eve of trial.
Lead counsel for a well-known financial services firm in a FINRA arbitration where a former brokerage employee alleged defamation and tortious interference with contract following his departure from the firm. Nancy obtained a ruling from the arbitration panel dismissing all claims.
Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, 1988, J.D.
University of Missouri, 1985, B.A.
U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Sixth Circuits
U.S. Supreme Court
Awards and Affiliations
Recognized, Leading US Corporate Employment Lawyer, Lawdragon 500 (2020)
Recognized, Employment Law – Management, Houston; Labor Law – Management, Houston; Litigation – Labor and Employment, Houston, The Best Lawyers in America (2003–2006, 2008–2011, 2014–2020)
Recommended, Dispute resolution: Product liability, mass tort and class action - defense: pharmaceuticals and medical devices, The Legal 500 US (2020)
Lawyer of the Year, Litigation–Labor and Employment, The Best Lawyers in America (2017)
Top Woman Lawyer, Best Lawyers (2016, 2017)
Ranked, Labor & Employment, Texas, Chambers USA (2020)
Band 1, Labor & Employment, Texas, Chambers USA (2018, 2019)
Ranked, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2005–2017)
Ranked, Labor & Employment, USA, Chambers Global (2016–2020)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Labor & Employment, Law360 (2017)
Winner, Texas Lawyer’s 2015 Texas Litigation Department of the Year for Labor and Employment
Recognized, Texas Super Lawyers (2003–2014)
Recommended, Labor and Employment Litigation, The Legal 500 US (2014)
Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Texas Super Lawyers (2010)