Stephen M. Fernelius
AREAS OF CONCENTRATION
- Catastrophic Incident Litigation
- Complex Commercial Litigation & Business Disputes
- Energy Litigation
- Environmental Litigation & Toxic Tort
- Mass Torts
- Personal Injury
- Pharmaceutical Litigation
- Products Liability Litigation
Steve Fernelius describes himself as a people person. “Whether it’s a judge, opposing counsel, someone sitting on a jury, I want to talk to them,” he says. “I want to know what they’re thinking. That’s going to help me do my job better, and get a better result for my client.”
After 20 years as an associate and then a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Steve founded Fernelius Simon with the goal of creating a more agile firm that was better able to respond to the needs of its clients. And he did it for the ability to work the cases he felt were important and help the people who need it most.
Steve has gained a reputation for successfully handling high-profile and complex litigation, especially that which has come under intense public scrutiny. He represented an international oil and gas company in three separate trials from 2005 to 2009 in connection with a catastrophic explosion at one of its refineries in Texas City, Texas, which ultimately resulted in the favorable settlement of several hundred personal injury claims. Steve also helped obtain a jury verdict in favor of a domestic oil company that had been sued for failing to provide adequate security to four of its employees who were attacked and killed while on assignment in southern Asia.
Those who have worked with Steve have come to know that, regardless of the issue, he understands how their case affects them and their business. And at the end of the day, he’ll have done everything he can to help solve their problems.
Most recent matters:
- Representing in arbitration a Fortune 100 energy company making a $150 million breach of warranty claim against a product and service provider.
- Defending in federal court in Wisconsin dozens of claims of personal injuries arising from exposure to lead in residential paint.
- Obtained a multi-million dollar settlement in arbitration for a Houston oil company against its bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the world.
- Represented plaintiffs in multiple, personal injury death cases and secured millions of dollars in confidential settlements.
Steve’s catastrophic industrial-accident-defense experience includes:
- Successfully defended a multinational energy company in a five-week trial in federal court in which the plaintiffs sought a significant amount in damages, but were only awarded a few thousand.
- Represented a multinational chemical, pharmaceutical and crop-science company in U.S. regulatory matters arising out of a process-plant explosion.
- Represented an international oil and gas company in three separate trials in connection with a catastrophic explosion and fire at its Texas City, Texas, refinery, resulting in favorable settlements of several hundred personal-injury claims (2005–2009).
- Represented two other international oil and gas companies in connection with three catastrophic process-plant explosions (1989, 1997 and 2000) involving numerous fatalities and substantial property damage.
- Represented a major oil and gas company in connection with two fatalities from a flash fire at a chemical unit (1999); trial verdict led to an advantageous settlement for the client.
Steve’s other mass-tort and high-profile litigation experience includes:
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of a major global energy company in a bellwether trial in a 50,000-plaintiff multi-district litigation involving alleged exposure and injuries from an oil refinery.
- Served as national discovery counsel for a U.S. tire manufacturer in its products-liability litigation and successfully transformed the way in which the client handles pretrial discovery.
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of a major automobile manufacturer in a wrongful-death lawsuit in which the claimant alleged that the deployment of an air bag caused his wife’s death.
- Successfully represented a major international oil and gas company in environmental litigation concerning oil fields in Louisiana.
- Successfully represented a national amusement-park chain, obtaining several defense jury verdicts in cases where plaintiffs alleged ride-related personal injuries.
- Supreme Court of Texas
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND MEMBERSHIPS
- American Bar Association
- International Association of Defense Counsel
- Defense Research Institute
- State Bar of Texas
- Texas Bar Foundation, Sustaining Life Member
- Texas Association of Defense Counsel
- Houston Bar Association
HONORS AND AWARDS
- Best Law Firms — U.S. News — 2018, Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defense
- Best Lawyers in America — 2008-2019
- Texas Super Lawyers — 2011-2018
- AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA): Member
- Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Co-author, “Effective Representation in Difficult Times: Assisting Your Client in Times of Crisis,” Spring 2009, ABA Mass Tort Journal
- Co-author, Practical Guide for Conducting Extra-Territorial Discovery for Use In U.S. Litigation
- Numerous presentations about preparing for and handling corporate crises and litigation arising from catastrophic events
- Various CLE presentations concerning the admissibility of documentary evidence at trial and contribution and indemnity under Texas law
- 1991 – Juris Doctor, with honors, University of Texas School of Law
- 1988 – Bachelor of Science, cum laude, Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Steve was admitted to practice law in Texas in 1991 and also is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
- Fort Bend Literacy Council, volunteer
- Child Advocates of Fort Bend County, Texas, volunteer