Nancy L. Patterson, a seasoned trial lawyer with more than 30 years of experience, has achieved notable victories for clients in state and federal courts and in arbitrations across the United States. She has tried and arbitrated more than 60 high-stakes cases related to commercial/business disputes, pharmaceutical and products liability/life sciences, insurance coverage, personal injury, environmental, employment, and employee benefits matters. Nancy has represented several well-known national and global companies in cases brought by individual and corporate plaintiffs, multidistrict litigation matters, and class and collective actions.
Among her professional achievements, 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.
Early 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, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Texas Labor Code. She also has handled wage and hour individual and collective actions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act and has tried two such cases to verdict—a rare occurrence.
For the last 15 years, the scope of Nancy’s trial practice has expanded significantly to focus on complex commercial/business disputes, pharmaceutical/products liability, insurance recovery, environmental, and personal injury litigation. She has been lead counsel in cases across the United States involving public nuisance, breach of contract, bad faith, fraud, fraudulent transfer, and breach of fiduciary claims. She also handles complex negligence, personal injury, and defamation claims.
Since 2019, Nancy has served as a lead trial counsel in several high-profile trials representing publicly traded pharmaceutical manufacturers of branded and generic opioid medicines in the defense of public nuisance and other statutory and tort claims brought by state attorneys general, counties, and hospitals. The plaintiffs in these cases have sought billions of dollars against our clients for their alleged role in the nationwide opioid crisis. These cases include In re West Virginia Opioid Litigation (21-C-9000 MFR) in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia (2022); In re New York Opioid Litigation (Case Nos. 400001, 400008, 400016) in the State of New York Supreme Court, Suffolk County, New York (2021);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 (2019); and State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, et al. (2019).
Another of Nancy’s notable representations included serving as trial counsel to lead a multi-office team 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. Arbitration at the American Arbitration Association’s International Centre for Dispute Resolution in New York involved 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 the 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.
Public Nuisance, Mass Tort, and Products Liability Litigation
Nancy has been at the cutting edge of the nationally publicized opioid litigation, working on more than a dozen cases for our clients across the country since 2019, including the following:
In re New York Opioid Litigation, Supreme Court for the State of New York, Suffolk County: Served as a co-lead trial counsel in a seven-month jury trial brought by the New York attorney general on behalf of the State of New York and Suffolk and Nassau Counties; Nancy led the jury selection process on behalf of all manufacturer defendants, delivered the opening statement for our clients, and handled several key fact and expert witnesses during the trial—conducted in person in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic—as well as key legal arguments to the court; the plaintiffs’ primary claim was that the defendants’ manufacture and marketing of FDA-approved opioid medications created a widespread public nuisance resulting in billions of dollars in damages; as the first opioid case against pharmaceutical manufacturers to proceed to a jury trial, the case involved numerous complex legal issues and significant discovery (including the production of millions of documents) and was the subject of significant media attention
In re West Virginia Opioid Litigation, Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia: Served as co-lead trial counsel in a two-month bench trial brought by the West Virginia attorney general against several opioid manufacturers, premised on a public nuisance theory; as in the New York case, the West Virginia trial involved significant fact and complex expert witness testimony as well as complex legal issues/arguments
In re National Prescription Opiate Litigation, national multidistrict litigation (MDL) pending before Judge Dan Polster in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio: Served as co-lead counsel for our opioid manufacturer clients in this national opioid MDL that has been pending since 2017 with the first case (Track One) set for jury trial in the fall of 2019; also premised on a public nuisance theory, the case included distributor, pharmacy, and manufacturer defendants; while Track One settled the morning of opening statements, Nancy was actively involved in the jury selection process on behalf of the joint defense group and was set to give the opening statement for our clients had the case not resolved
State of Oklahoma, ex rel. Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma v. Purdue Pharma, et al., Cleveland County, Oklahoma District Court: Served as co-lead trial counsel in the first opioid case scheduled to proceed to trial in May 2019 and was involved in several months of discovery on a myriad of novel issues; the team’s 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—including his jury demand—other than the public nuisance claim; secured a settlement on the eve of what was to be a nationally televised trial
Served as lead trial counsel in opioid matters pending in several other states, including Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and New Mexico
Currently preparing to try the first-ever opioid lawsuit brought by a group of hospitals to proceed to trial; involving eight hospitals in Alabama, the case also alleges public nuisance against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies, and the plaintiffs are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages they claim to have suffered in connection with providing medical services to individuals with opioid use disorder and other opioid-related medical conditions
Insurance Recovery Litigation
Served as co-lead trial counsel with a multidisciplinary team representing ITT Corporation in a four-week bench trial in the 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
Served as co-lead counsel with a multidisciplinary team representing a court-appointed receiver in several insurance recovery actions pending in South Carolina involving hundreds of millions of dollars of insurance coverage; brought claims on behalf of the receiver for various defunct companies named as defendants in asbestos personal injury litigation, including declaratory action claims seeking interpretation of legacy policies, breach of contract, and bad faith
Served as lead arbitration counsel on behalf of ITT Corporation in a dispute with insurers over several million dollars of historic insurance coverage obligations related to past and future asbestos liabilities incurred by several legacy companies; the matter was favorably resolved on behalf of ITT on the eve of a 2018 arbitration hearing in Chicago
Served as 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; negotiated a favorable resolution following extensive deposition and electronic document discovery
Served as 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 multiyear agreement to provide management, operations, and maintenance services for a large biosolids facility; negotiated a favorable confidential settlement following discovery and favorable pretrial rulings
Served as 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
Served as lead counsel for a large specialty physician practice in defense of breach of contract, fraud, and discrimination claims brought by a former physician partner; obtained dismissal of all claims following an eight-day arbitration in Austin, Texas
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 ultimately resolved favorably based on Nancy’s negotiation of a unique and unprecedented consent decree resolution with the EEOC
Served as 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 weeklong jury trial (case selected as one of the Top 50 Defense Verdicts of the year by The National Law Journal)
Served as lead trial counsel for a large financial services firm in defense of a multimillion-dollar claim in Oklahoma federal court brought by a former financial advisor alleging gender discrimination and retaliation following her termination; negotiated a favorable settlement on the eve of trial, following extensive fact and expert discovery and the plaintiff’s abandonment of certain claims
Served as lead trial counsel for a large publicly traded healthcare company in defense of a disability discrimination/retaliation case in Florida federal court; tried and won the eight-day jury trial with all claims rejected by the jury
As lead trial counsel for a large publicly traded company, tried and won a bench trial in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York 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
As lead trial counsel, obtained a jury verdict dismissing all claims against an oilfield equipment manufacturing company in a Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas where the plaintiff claimed she had been misclassified as an exempt manager but was instead performing nonexempt work; obtained a complete defense verdict following a six-day jury trial when the same plaintiff later filed a pregnancy discrimination/retaliation lawsuit in Texas state court
As lead counsel, obtained an arbitration award dismissing all claims against 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
As lead trial counsel, obtained a complete defense verdict following a six-day jury trial in a disability and age discrimination case filed in a Texas state court against a large publicly traded healthcare company
Procured favorable confidential settlements, avoiding public litigation, in matters brought against senior executives in large organizations and senior partners at prominent law firms; retained by several boards of directors to conduct confidential prelitigation investigations regarding high-stakes/sensitive matters, including sexual harassment/sexual assault claims and ethics violations
Served as lead trial and/or arbitration counsel in more than 40 cases that were successfully tried/arbitrated to jury verdict or a favorable arbitration order, and procured summary judgments or favorable settlements in many other cases
Business Competition/Trade Secrets Litigation
As lead trial counsel, negotiated a favorable permanent injunction and settlement, which secured and protected sensitive information and enforced a noncompete agreement, 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
Personal Injury/Tort Litigation
Served as 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 across the United States, and the case ultimately settled on the eve of trial
Served as 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; 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.
US Supreme Court
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
US District Court for the Northern District of Texas
US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
US District Court for the Southern District of Texas
US District Court for the Western District of Texas
Awards and Affiliations
Recognized, Leading US Corporate Employment Lawyer, Lawdragon 500 (2020–2022)
Recognized, Employment Law – Management, Houston; Labor Law – Management, Houston; Litigation – Labor and Employment, Houston, The Best Lawyers in America (2003–2006, 2008–2011, 2014–2024)
Recommended, Dispute resolution: Product liability, mass tort and class action - defense: pharmaceuticals and medical devices, The Legal 500 US (2020–2023)
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Insurance, Law360 (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 (2020–2022)
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 Litigation Department of the Year for Labor and Employment, Texas Lawyer (2015)
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)