Stephen M. Fernelius
T: 713.654.5151 F: 713.654.4039 firstname.lastname@example.org
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AREAS OF CONCENTRATION
- Mass Tort Litigation
- Catastrophic Incident Litigation
- Corporate Crisis Management, Counseling and Investigations
- Environmental Litigation
- Commercial Litigation
- Product Liability Litigation
Steve Fernelius has extensive experience in the development and trial of mass-tort litigation and other high-profile cases. Given the size and complexity of the matters in which Steve has been involved, he has developed considerable skill in managing large teams of legal professionals, often including multiple law firms, in delivering successful results to clients. Steve has trial-tested experience in all phases of the defense of catastrophic industrial accidents, including evidence gathering and preservation, corporate investigations, electronic and other discovery issues, case evaluation and settlement strategies, trial-theme development, and case presentations before judges and juries. Few attorneys have defended as many, or such significant, refinery- and chemical-plant-explosion cases.
In addition to developing, preparing and trying several process-plant disasters, Steve also participated in a trial involving a terrorist attack on U.S. oil workers stationed abroad, defending against claims of inadequate company security. This trial, which resulted in a complete defense victory, was followed closely by the international insurance industry. He also defended at trial a U.S. auto manufacturer against the claim that the deployment of an air bag caused the death of a driver. This case ended in a successful jury verdict and was followed closely by the automotive industry, as it was the first case of its kind.
Steve also has served as national discovery counsel for a U.S. tire manufacturer. In addition to developing a new organization and processes to coordinate discovery on a national basis, he participated in the management of large-scale document production and document repositories. He also has substantial experience in preparing clients, including senior and chief executive officers of major corporations, to give testimony.
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 quarter of a billion dollars 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 multimillion-dollar 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 multidistrict 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 domestic oil company sued for failing to provide adequate security to four of its employees who were attacked and killed while on assignment for the company in southern Asia.
- 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.
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND MEMBERSHIPS
- American Bar Association
- International Association of Defense Counsel
- Defense Research Institute
- State Bar of Texas
- Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
- Texas Association of Defense Counsel
- Houston Bar Association
- American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA): Associate Member
- Best Lawyers in America © , Mass Torts (2008 - present)
- Martindale-Hubbell: AV Peer Review Rated
- Texas Super Lawyer (2011 – present)
- 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.
Steve’s interests include spending time with his wife and four children and following his favorite college and professional sports teams. He avidly coaches youth sports and is proud to serve as an alumni admissions interviewer for his alma mater, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Steve has served for many years as corporate counsel for the Fort Bend Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the educational experience of students in the Fort Bend Independent School District.