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Civil Appeals

The attorneys at Willi Law Firm can assist you with all of your appellate needs in the state courts of Texas and in the federal court system.  The firm's appellate specialist, Tracy J. Willi, is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  She has almost 20 years of litigation and appellate experience in cases involving business disputes, real estate, products liability, patents, copyrights, and trademarks.  Many of her cases have been reported in published decisions.  She has represented clients in the Texas Courts of Appeals throughout Texas, as well as the Texas Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Sixth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

Trials are a necessary part of the justice system, but trials do not always bring justice.  Willi Law Firm is often hired after a legal matter has gone wrong—a ruling or a judgment has been entered that was not anticipated.  While the facts underlying a ruling or judgment are generally limited by the "cold, hard record" of what has already been presented to the court, the experienced appellate lawyer brings a new prospective and can take the case in a new legal direction.  The combination of determination and experience has lead to positive results for several Willi Law Firm clients.

When should you hire an appellate lawyer?

An appellate lawyer can be hired at any stage of litigation.  At a recent seminar in Austin, Texas, a panel of federal and state court judges suggested that parties involve appellate lawyers early in proceedings, particularly during discovery, to avoid costly discovery disputes.  Asking an appellate lawyer to prepare a draft jury charge will keep discovery focused on the issues that will be addressed at trial. If any discovery disputes arise, the party able to demonstrate how the discovery is or is not relevant to a question which will be presented to a jury will have the most persuasive argument.

Appellate lawyers are typically involved in summary judgment proceedings, discovery disputes that have a determinitive outcome on the case (such as striking pleadings or not permitting critical discovery), motions to strike experts, petitions for writ of mandamus, interlocutory appeals, jury charge preparation, and trial briefs.

A trial lawyer will want to involve an appellate lawyer immediately after a jury verdict to either defend or challenge the verdict. Post-verdict motions can be effective even before a judgment is entered.

Once a judgment is entered, a party has a limited time period to challenge the judgment. This is a critical period for the appellate lawyer to be involved.  This is the last chance to correct errors at the trial court before the expense of an appeal.

Once a case has been filed in the appellate court, an appellate lawyer may be hired to prepare the appellate brief. A persuasive appellate brief incorporates specific references to the trial court record and provides discussion on how these facts fit into the larger legal fabric of existing case law and statutes.

Willi Law Firm is also hired after a court of appeals has made its ruling.  The Texas Supreme Court is the highest level of appeal for most Texas cases.  Ms. Willi reviews the decisions of the Texas Supreme Court as they are released and monitors issues that are being considered.

Representative Cases

Pool v. Diana.  Represented the executrix of the decedent's estate in an appeal to the Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin.  The Court issued an opinion in favor of Willi Law Firm's client upholding Travis County Probate Court No. 1's rulings on motions for summary judgment regarding testamentary capacity, alleged oral conveyance of real property, forgery, and undue influence.  The Court further affirmed the probate court's award of $109,500 in sanctions against the opposing party and her attorneys.  Finally, the Court awarded an additional $30,000 in penalties against the opposing party on appeal.  See No. 03-08-00363-CV (Tex. App.—Austin 2010, pet. denied) (Mem. Op.)

Shook v. WaldenExtraordinary proceeding to determine sufficiency of supersedeas bond.  The Court's opinion is reported at 304 S.W.3d 910 (Tex. App.—Austin 2010, no pet.).

AIC Management v. Crews.  After being defeated at the trial court and at the court of appeals, AIC Management then hired Willi Law Firm to pursue a Petition for Review to the Texas Supreme Court. The issue was whether summary judgment was properly granted based upon an allegedly defective description of real property in a Sheriff's Deed issued after a tax sale.  The Petition for Review was granted and the Court heard oral argument on January 23, 2007.  The Texas Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and remanded the case to the trial court in Harris County, Texas for further proceedings.  The Court's opinion is reported at AIC Management v. Crews, 246 S.W.3d 640 (Tex. 2008).

Bechtel Corp. v. CITGO Products Pipeline Co. Represented CITGO at trial and on appeal before the Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin defending a favorable jury verdict concerning damages to a pipeline when a contractor violated the One-Call Statute.  The Court's opinion is reported at 271 S.W.3d 898 (Tex. App.—Austin 2008, no pet.).

Potcinske v. McDonald Property Investments.  Real property dispute before the Texas First Court of Appeals in Houston.  The Court's opinion is reported at 245 S.W.3d 526 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.).

IAP Intermodal, L.L.C. v. Northwest Airlines Corporation et al.  Jim Willi represented a number of domestic and international airlines in a patent infringement case in the Eastern District of Texas.  Following a claim construction ruling favorable to the airline defendants, the plaintiff stipulated to noninfringement and appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  The district court's claim construction was affirmed.

Tempest Broadcasting Corp. v. Imlay.  Interlocutory appeal of an order dismissing case for lack of person jurisdiction.  The Court's opinion is reported at 150 S.W.3d 861 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2004, no pet.).

Rivera v. Houston I.S.D.  Appeal before U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for wrongful death of a child due to a state-created danger.  The Court's opinion is reported at 349 F.3d 244 (5th Cir. 2003).

Lewis v. Fresne.  Appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit regarding dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The Court's opinion is reported at 252 F.3d 352 (5th Cir. 2001).

Daily v. Gusto Records, Inc.  Appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involving issues of fraud and conspiracy regarding payment of publisher royalties for exploitation of George Jones master recordings.  The Court's opinion is reported at 14 Fed. Appx. 579, 582 (6th Cir. 2001) (Mem. Op.).

Torrington Co. v. Stutzman. Represented Bell Helicopter before the Texas Supreme Court in an appeal concerning joint liability and punitive damages in a multiple wrongful death action. The Court's opinion is reported at 36 S.W.2d 511 (Tex. 2000).

Dubai Petroleum Co. v. Kazi.  Appeal before the Texas Supreme Court involving subject matter jurisdiction of Texas courts over foreign cases involving wrongful death.  The Court's opinion is reported at 12 S.W.3d 71 (Tex. 2000).

Gonzales v. Trinity Industries, Inc.  Car accident involving a condition on a property preventing proper line of sight for incoming traffic.  The Court's opinion is reported at 7 S.W.3d 303 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, pet. denied).

Huynh v. R. Warehousing & Port Services.  The Court's opinion is reported at 973 S.W.2d 375 (Tex. App.—Tyler 1998, no pet.).

Smith v. Medical and Surgical Clinic Ass’n.  Appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit of a summary judgment granted pursuant to the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).  The Court's opinion is reported at 118 F.3d 416 (5th Cir. 1997). 

Torres v. Caterpillar, Inc.  Represented Caterpillar in a products liability case defending a favorable jury verdict.  The Court's opinion is reported at 928 S.W.2d 233 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1996, writ denied).

Burlington Northern R. Co. v. Taylor.  Represented Burlington Northern in an injury case involving punitive damages.  The Court's opinion is reported at 916 S.W.2d 12 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, no writ).