Jackson Walker Attains First Court of Appeals Victory for Real Estate Client

February 15, 2024 | Client Results

On January 18, 2024, the Texas First District Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of Jackson Walker client Houston PT BAC Office Limited Partnership, the owner of the Bank of America Tower in downtown Houston, in the appeal of a commercial lease dispute arising from a contractual real estate appraisal and arbitration process.

The appeal concerned two challenges. First, Burke—BAC’s landlord—sought to overturn the appraisal decision reached in a three-party appraisal process. Burke argued that the neutral arbitrator appraiser was evidently partial (1) on the basis that he did not disclose certain nonsubstantive discussions confirming his availability and willingness to serve as BAC’s appointed appraiser before ultimately not being selected and (2) due to certain attenuated business relationships, namely that his firm—Cushman and Wakefield, one of the largest real estate companies in the world—had done unrelated work for Jackson Walker and for one of BAC’s owners (a GE pension trust) in preceding years. Applying arbitration principles, the First Court rejected that challenge. The Court agreed with Jackson Walker’s client that the complained-of facts did not demonstrate impartiality and did not need to be disclosed.

Second, the First Court of Appeals rejected Burke’s efforts to overturn a related summary judgment ruling that there was no fraud by nondisclosure.  As the Court explained, BAC did not create a substantially false impression, nor were its affirmative communications misleading. The Court agreed with BAC that Burke failed to establish BAC had any duty to disclose information at issue. It also agreed as to reliance and intent, and it held that the trial court properly granted BAC’s no evidence summary judgment motion on fraud by nondisclosure.

The appellate victory affirms earlier wins by Jackson Walker’s trial team.

Jackson Walker partner and Appellate Practice Chair Jennifer Caughey, who led the appellate effort, stated, “We are thrilled to have secured this win for BAC. The First Court of Appeals faithfully applied the law to this appraisal process and record, and we are happy to see our clients vindicated on all grounds.”

“This is an important victory for BAC, validating its good faith throughout the appraisal process.  I also am proud of the further demonstration of the effective and efficient, one, two punch our collaborative trial and appellate teams bring to complex matters,” said Jackson Walker Houston Litigation Chair Joseph “Tré” Fischer, who led the team at trial.

The Jackson Walker team also included  Joel Glover, Javier Gonzalez, and Harris Huguenard.

The case is Burke, et. al. v. Houston PT BAC Office Limited Partnership, No. 01-21-00288-CV, filed in the Texas First District Court of Appeals. For more information about the case, view the opinion.

Meet Our Team

Tré Fischer leads Jackson Walker’s Houston Trial & Appellate Litigation team. With a primary focus on complex energy, real estate, and business litigation matters, Tré’s 30 years of litigation experience includes both commercial disputes and significant personal injury matters. In recognition of his practice, Tré has been ranked among Chambers USA’s top Houston lawyers for Litigation: General Commercial, as a Best Lawyer for Commercial Litigation, a “Texas Super Lawyer” for Business Litigation, and among Lawdragon’s 500 leading litigators in America.

Jennifer Caughey is a former Justice on Texas’s First Court of Appeals and Chair of Jackson Walker’s Appellate Practice. Justice Caughey leverages her diverse experience on both sides of the bench to litigate complex cases at the appellate and trial levels. She is recognized by Chambers USA in the area of Litigation: Appellate – Texas, among Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers in the area of Appellate Law, and was one of the Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America in 2022.

Joel Glover represents clients nationwide in the areas of financial services, energy and natural resources, media, intellectual property, and entertainment. In addition to his practice, Joel volunteers his time with the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s Media, Privacy, and Advertising Law Committee, Alley Theatre, and the West Point Society of Greater Houston. He has been recognized as a Best Lawyer for Commercial Litigation in 2024, as a “Texas Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers since 2018, as an “Up-and-Coming 100: Texas Rising Star” from 2021 to 2023, and among Lawdragon’s 500 leading litigators in America in 2023 and 2024.

Javier Gonzalez has appeared for defendants and plaintiffs in general litigation and appellate cases involving breach of warranty, commercial brokerage agreements, landlord-tenant disputes, commercial and personal real estate leases, personal injury defense, first amendment claims, and manufacturing and co-packing agreements. He has been recognized as a Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for 2024 in the area of Litigation – Bankruptcy.

Harris Huguenard handles a wide array of civil litigation matters, including complex business disputes, patent litigation, real property and construction disputes, and commercial and personal injury litigation for clients in the oil and gas industry. Harris has first-chair trial experience and has argued and briefed numerous dispositive motions. Harris served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

About Our Trial & Appellate Experience

Jackson Walker’s trial group is one of the largest in the Southwest, comprising about 30% of the firm’s more than 500 attorneys. A formidable opponent in the courtroom, our diverse experience covers a broad range of industry sectors and specialty practice areas, and takes us into courthouses across the state and nearly every Texas county. Our trial practice also spans the U.S., as we have litigated cases in all 50 states.

The Appellate team brings decades of appellate practice experience, gained in state and federal courts nationwide, to every client matter we work on. Working closely with trial counsel, our Appellate team provides strategic legal analysis and issue identification in order to craft and preserve the most persuasive legal arguments at every stage of litigation. Our Appellate team currently has or recently successfully handled complex, high-stakes, and varied appeals pending in the Texas Supreme Court, various Texas Appellate Courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, and in the U.S. Supreme Court.

To explore the firm’s experience representing clients in contract disputes, visit the Trial & Appellate Litigation practice page.

In This Story

Jennifer Caughey
Partner, Houston

Joseph A. Fischer
Partner, Houston

Joel R. Glover
Partner, Houston

Javier Gonzalez
Associate, Houston

Harris Huguenard
Associate, Houston