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.
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 — 2021, Ranked Tier I in the Houston metro area in Commercial Litigation and Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defense
Best Lawyers in America — 2008-2021
Texas Super Lawyers — 2011-2021
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