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Catherine Bukowski Smith

Cathy Bukowski Smith Counsel, Appellate

Cathy is an appellate specialist, with extensive experience at both the state and federal level. A significant part of her practice entails filing and responding to mandamus petitions. She has fully briefed cases on the merits in various types of complex commercial cases for both the plaintiff and defendant. She regularly provides appellate assistance in the trial court, including high-quality legal research and brief writing, drafting jury charges and handling jury charge conferences, drafting post-verdict and post-judgment motions, and preparing case dispositive motions and pleadings. Cathy is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Civil Appellate Law, has served as a past Chair of the Houston Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, and previously served as a research attorney on the Houston First Court of Appeals.

Experience Highlights

  • (Tex.) – Obtained reversal of lower appeals court decision and reinstatement of $1.065 million trial court judgment in favor of small business owners in suit challenging lower court’s evidentiary rulings in condemnation case
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained affirmance of $13.1 million judgment in favor of a commercial developer after the State condemned a significant portion of the commercial reserves of a master planned residential development in Harris County, Texas for construction of the Grand Parkway toll road 
  • (Tex.) — Obtained mandamus relief for a tire manufacturer who was ordered to disclose its trade secret skim stock formula in a case analyzing for the first time the requesting party’s burden to establish that the trade secret information was necessary for a fair adjudication of its claims
  • (Tex.) — In a case involving geological and seismic data trade secrets, obtained mandamus relief from the Texas Supreme Court that an employee’s mere access to trade secret documents at his place of employment does not constitute possession, custody, or control of those documents for purposes of discovery
  • (Tex.) — Obtained a reversal of the court of appeals’ reversal of a summary judgment in a plurality opinion in favor of the defendant mortgage company in this premises liability case involving landowner liability for criminal acts of a third party
  • (Tex.) — Obtained mandamus relief on behalf of a defendant pipeline company who had not been allowed to pursue discovery as to non-trial group plaintiffs, and who had been ordered to prepare an inventory of documents
  • (5th Cir.) — Obtained affirmance of a dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction on behalf of utility entities in a case of first impression involving citizen suit jurisdiction under the Clean Air Act
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained judgment in favor of a port authority in a trespass to try title action involving novel issues relating to ownership of submerged lands and surveying of properties

Mandamus

  • (Tex. App. − Houston [14th Dist.]) — Represented a prominent Texas law firm in a mandamus action filed by a foreign partnership seeking to lift an order abating the foreign partnership’s suit; the abatement order was affirmed in part, resulting in the continuing abatement of the trial
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained mandamus relief requiring shareholder derivative plaintiffs of our client telecommunications company in a stock option backdating case to specifically plead demand futility prior to their entitlement to any discovery
  • (Tex. App – Beaumont) — Obtained mandamus relief (in part) to overturn a discovery order requiring defendants to produce individual tax returns and other items of net worth beyond financial statements (specifically, balance sheets)
  • (Tex. App – San Antonio) — Obtained mandamus relief recognizing non-party oil company’s right to object and seek enforcement of a protective order to prevent disclosure of its confidential documents
  • (Tex. App. – Texarkana) — Obtained mandamus relief to overturn a discovery order requiring disclosure of a waste company’s trade secret customer lists and pricing schedules
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained mandamus relief in a divorce action on behalf of a CEO husband, and his oil and gas supply and distribution company, that had been enjoined from taking any actions that would alter the company’s value
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained mandamus relief enforcing an arbitration clause for a post-secondary vocational school and its non-signatory parent corporation
  • (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi) — Obtained mandamus relief in favor of defendant oil and gas companies who had their affirmative defenses stricken by the trial court as a sanction
  • (Tex.) — Obtained mandamus relief to overturn a discovery order requiring a defendant to disclose his tax returns
  • (Tex. App. – 1st – Houston) — Obtained mandamus relief enforcing an arbitration clause for a national pest control company

Fifth Circuit

  • (5th Cir.) — Obtained affirmance of a summary judgment ruling that an assignment from an operating company to an energy company did not include certain oil and gas interests that had been previously conveyed to our client energy company
  • (5th Cir.) — On behalf of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas and Dr. James Knochel, secured reversal of a record $366 million jury verdict in a physician peer review case; judgment was rendered in our clients’ favor, holding that they were immune from damages claims under the federal Health Care Quality Improvement Act; the United States Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for certiorari
  • (5th Cir.) — Obtained relief from garnishments filed by judgment creditors of the Congo against client oil companies arising from an oil concession agreement between the oil companies and the foreign state
  • (5th Cir.) — Obtained reversal and rendition of $7 million judgment for breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and misappropriation of trade secrets for a seller of custom designed propeller castings (appellate team member)
  • (5th Cir.) — Obtained affirmance of finding of mental retardation in pro bono appeal filed on behalf of death row inmate (principal author of briefing)

State Appeals

  • (Tex.) — Obtained reversal of the court of appeals’ opinion holding that the trial court lacked authority to un-grant a new trial on the 75th day after judgment, resulting in an affirmance of a take-nothing judgment against plaintiffs in a wrongful death action seeking millions of dollars in damages based on the defective design of a tractor/trailer
  • (Tex.) — Obtained reversal of court of appeals’ judgment and rendition in favor of a trucking company that plaintiff take nothing on his claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • (Tex. App. – Eastland) — Obtained affirmance of a summary judgment for a law firm in a suit alleging legal malpractice
  • (Tex. App. – El Paso) — Obtained affirmance of a take-nothing judgment on behalf of a Houston-based energy firm in a $400 million damage  suit arising from the termination of an oil supply contract with a refinery involving claims of usury, breach of contract, fraud, and various business torts
  • (Tex. App. – Beaumont) — Obtained a judgment vacating and reversing the trial court’s class certification order brought by agents against a life insurance company
  • (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi) — Obtained affirmance of a take-nothing judgment against a church alleging negligent hiring and supervision of a priest who had a sexual relationship with the plaintiff

Houston Appeals

  • (Tex. App. – 1st – Houston) — Obtained order of dismissal in favor of a school district against a taxpayer who attempted to file a restricted appeal; obtained order of dismissal in opponent’s attempt to file a restricted appeal
  • (Tex. App. – 1st – Houston) — Obtained affirmance of dismissal of plaintiffs’ medical malpractice claims against hospital for failure to file an expert report within the statutory deadline
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained affirmance of a summary judgment for a hospital defendant based on the statute of limitations in a personal injury case
  • (Tex. App. – 14th – Houston) — Obtained affirmance of a summary judgment against plaintiffs, who had received a favorable verdict in the underlying action, in a suit against a law firm arising from the disclosure of evidence relating to possible jury tampering on the part of the plaintiffs’ attorney
  • (Tex. App. – 1st – Houston) — Obtained reversal and remand of a $1.3 million judgment in favor of the plaintiff, a contract utility worker, against a city in a personal injury suit
  • (Tex. App. – 1st – Houston) — Obtained affirmance of a take-nothing judgment in favor of a product seller against family members of deceased in an action seeking millions of dollars in damages based on the alleged defect in design of a life jacket
  • (Tex. App. – 1st – Houston) — Obtained affirmance of a take-nothing judgment for oil and gas companies and against other oil and gas companies in a contract dispute involving oil and gas leases on Indian lands

Case Citations

  • In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 106 S.W.3d 730 (Tex. 2002)
  • In re Kuntz, 124 S.W.3d 179 (Tex. 2003)
  • Mellon Mtg. Co. v. Holder, 5 S.W.3d 654 (Tex. 1999)
  • In re Colonial Pipeline, Inc., 968 S.W.2d 938 (Tex. 1998)
  • Clean Coalition v. TXU Power, 536 F.3d 469 (5th Cir. 2008)
  • TH Investments, Inc. v. Kirby Inland Marine, 218 S.W.3d 173 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. denied)
  • In re Crown Castle Intern. Corp., 247 S.W.3d 349 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, orig. proceeding)
  • In re Garth, 214 S.W.3d 190 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2007, orig. proceeding)
  • In re Shell E&P, Inc., 179 S.W.3d 125 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2005, orig. proceeding)
  • In re Waste Management of Texas, Inc., 286 S.W.3d 615 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2009, orig. proceeding)
  • In re Vitol, Inc., 2010 WL 308792 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, orig. proceeding)
  • In re Education Management Corp., Inc., 14 S.W.3d 418 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2000, orig. proceeding)
  • In re Fina Oil and Chemical Co., 1999 WL 33589153 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Mar. 11, 1999, orig. proceeding)
  • Hall v. Lawlis, 907 S.W.2d 493 (Tex. 1995).
  • In re Orkin Exterminating Co., 2001 WL 871738 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.], 2001, orig. proceeding)
  • Earthwise Energy, Inc. v. Crusader Energy Group, Inc. 554 Fed. Appx. 297 (5th Cir. Feb. 11, 2014)
  • Poliner v. Texas Health Systems, 537 F.3d 368 (5th Cir. 2008)
  • FG Hemisphere Assocs. V. Republique du Congo, 455 F. 3d 575 (5th Cir. 2006); Af-Cap, Inc. v. Republic of Congo, 462 F. 3d 417 (5th Cir. 2006)
  • Propulsion Technologies, Inc. v Attwood Corp., 369 F.3d 896 (5th Cir. 2004)
  • Rivera v. Quarterman, 505 F.3d 349 (5th Cir. 2007)
  • Fruehauf Corp. v. Carrillo, 848 S.W.2d 83 (Tex. 1993), reversing Carrillo v. Fruehauf Corp., 838 S.W.2d 573 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 1992)
  • Standard Fruit & Veg. Co. v. Johnson, 985 S.W.2d 62 (Tex. 1998)
  • Swank v. Cunningham, 258 S.W.3d 647 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2008, pet. denied)
  • El Paso Refining v. Scurlock Permian Corp., 77 S.W.3d 374 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2002, pet. denied)
  • American Nat. Ins. Co. v. Cannon, 86 S.W.3d 801 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2002, no pet.)
  • McCorrey v. Fiorenza, No. 13-91-00232-CV, (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 1991, no writ)
  • Charleston v. Waller Ind. School Dist., 244 S.W.3d 555 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, pet. denied) 
  • Narmah v. Waller Independent School Dist., 257 S.W.3d 267 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, no pet.)
  • Wade v. The Methodist Hospital, 2004 WL 2749565 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist. ] 2004, no pet.)
  • Kannon v. Methodist Hospital, 9 S.W.3d 365 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1999, no pet.)
  • Bair v. Hagans, 1997 WL 280451 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, no pet.)
  • City of LaGrange v. McBee, 923 S.W.2d 89 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1996, writ denied)
  • Ramsey v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 853 S.W.2d 623 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1993, writ denied)
  • Mobil Producing Texas & N.M. / Chuska Energy Company v Mobil Exploration & Producing North America, Inc., 1994 WL 114308 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1992, writ denied)


Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.2391
F +1.713.615.5903
csmith@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
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Cathy's Practices

  • South Texas College of Law, J.D. cum laude, 1985
  • University of Houston, B.A., English magna cum laude, 1981
  • Admitted to practice: Texas; United States Supreme Court; Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; Southern District of Texas
  • Research attorney, First Court of Appeals, Houston, Texas, 1986–1989
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2008–2017
  • President: Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists (Past Secretary, 2014–2015; Past Treasurer, 2013–­2014)
  • Past Chair: Houston Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, 2007–2008
  • Past Officer (Secretary, Treasurer): Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists, 2014–2015, 2013–­2014
  • Past Chair: Houston Bar Association Appellate Practice Section and Nominating Committee, 2014
  • Past Member: Houston Bar Association Appellate Practice Section and Pro Bono Committee, 2013–2015
  • Past Council Member/Officer: Houston Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, 1999–2007
  • Past Member: Houston Bar Association Administration of Justice Committee, 2008–2009, 2006–2007
  • Member: Appellate Section, State Bar of Texas; Appellate Section, Houston Bar Association