Jeff Avery is a partner at Doyle Dennis LLP in Houston, Texas and practices in the areas of employment, appellate, maritime, and personal injury. Jeff graduated UCLA School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, and Arizona.
In July 2019, as lead trial counsel, Jeff obtained a $1.73 million verdict in the case Ball v. Alleyton Resources Company LLC, in Fort Bend County District Court. This verdict was approximately 850 times the final offer at mediation. On June 3, 2021, the 14th Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed this verdict. Alleyton Res. Co. v. Ball, No. 14-19-00816-CV2021, Tex. App. LEXIS 4324 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] June 3, 2021).
In addition, since the founding of the firm, Jeff has headed the appellate and trial briefing/support section of Doyle Dennis LLP. In this role, Jeff has argued before the Texas Court of Appeals, as well as the Fifth and Ninth circuit federal courts of appeals. Jeff has also acted as appellate counsel in case before the Texas Supreme Court, the Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi, and El Paso Courts of Appeals, the Louisiana Court of Appeals, and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Jeff has drafted briefs regarding antitrust, the Anti-Terrorism Act, Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, RICO, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, business torts, insurance bad faith, wrongful termination and retaliation, Civil Rights claims under Section 1983, the application of foreign law, personal and subject matter jurisdiction, forum non conveniens and hundreds of personal injury issues.
Some of the highlights of Jeff’s employment and appellate practice include the following:
- Jeff successfully argued before the Texas Court of Appeals in Salas v. Fluor Daniel Servs. Corp., 616 S.W.3d 137 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2020, pet. denied). The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and found that Section 451.001 protects employees who reported a worker’s compensation injury and received medical treatment – even when the employee has not yet filed the official claim paperwork.
- Jeff successfully drafted and briefed a petition for a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction in the 234th District Court of Harris County. The Court granted the restraining order and injunction against the Port of Houston and prohibited the Port from taking further disciplinary or retaliatory action against six firefighters. This case was affirmed on appeal by the 13th Court of Appeals. See Buck et al. v. Kozlowski et al., case number 13-21-00123-CV.
- Jeff successfully opposed a writ of mandamus to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after the District of Arizona found that an insurer and its claims administrator waived attorney-client privilege in a bad faith claim.
- After a Harris County district judge correctly denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss based on lack of venue, Jeff successfully defended his client against a writ of mandamus to the Houston Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.
- In a case involving injury off-shore in the Sakhalin Islands, Jeff successfully opposed three motions for summary judgment, a motion to dismiss based on forum non-conveniens, and a petition for writ of mandamus to the fifth circuit. First, the defendant argued that collateral estoppel required that the case be dismissed based on a Harris County District Court’s prior ruling dismissing the case for forum non conveniens. The federal court rejected the argument and found that collateral estoppel did not apply. See Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs. v. Rockwell, H-19-1054, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 236707 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 10 2019). The court later also rejected the defendant’s substantive motion to dismiss based on forum non-conveniens. See Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs. v. Rockwell, H-19-1054, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113939 (S.D. Tex. March 11, 2020). After the trial court denied a motion to certify the issue, the defendant filed a writ of mandamus to the Fifth Circuit. Agreeing with Jeff’s opposition brief, the Fifth Circuit denied the mandamus and rejected the defendant’s argument. The defendant then filed a second motion for summary judgment, this time arguing that 46 U.S.C. § 30105(b) barred the plaintiff’s claims. The trial court rejected this claim because the lawsuit was not governed by admiralty law. See Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs. v. Rockwell, H-19-1054, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204766 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 1, 2020). As a third attempt to avoid trial, the defendant requested summary judgment based on the statute of limitations. The Court also rejected this claim. Finally, Jeff filed a motion to strike the defendant’s affirmative defenses because the defendant did not file an answer to the plaintiff’s counter-claim for nearly a year. The Court granted that motion and struck the defendant’s affirmative defenses and denied their motion to designate a responsible third-party.
- Jeff represented twenty-one South African residents in claims against their former employer related to insurance benefits. This included opposing motions to dismiss and summary judgment. See Stanissis v. Dyncorp Int’l LLC, 3:14-CV-2736-D, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174296 (N.D. Tex., Dec. 17, 2014) (denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss regarding promissory estoppel); Stanissis v. DynCorp Int’l LLC, 3:14-CV-2736-D, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172412 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 29, 2015) (denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss regarding breach of contract); Stanissis v. DynCorp Int’l LLC, 3:14-CV-2736-D, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121389 (N.D. Tex. Aug, 2, 2017) (denying summary judgment regarding breach of contract and promissory estoppel).
- In a groundbreaking Civil RICO decision, Jeff argued at the motion to dismiss stage that the denial of worker’s compensation benefits was a property right protected and actionable under 18 US Code § 1964 and Arizona law. The Trial Court agreed and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Miller v. York Risk Servs. Group, 2:13-cv-1419 JWS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173354, (D. Ariz. Dec. 9, 2013).
- Jeff represented three residents of the Republic of Kosovo in a bad faith insurance dispute in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. After the defendant removed the case based on ERISA preemption, Jeff filed a motion to remand and argued that ERISA did not apply extraterritorially to a dispute that arose from injuries that occurred in Afghanistan. The federal court agreed and granted the motion to remand. Ymeri v. Life Ins. Co., 2:21-cv-01491-VAP-JPRx, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76823 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 20, 2021).
- In an insurance bad faith case involving a disability claim by a small business owner, Jeff successfully argued that ERISA did not apply to the employment disability policy. Specifically, Jeff argued because the plaintiff was the only employee of his own company, ERISA could not apply. The Court agreed and remanded the case. Juanopulos v. Salus Claims Mgmt. LLC, 518 F. Supp. 3d 973 (S.D. Tex. 2021).
- As part of a health insurance bad faith lawsuit, Jeff represented the widow of a Honduran native who died of cancer. After the defendant removed the case to federal court, Jeff moved to remand the claim. The Trial Court granted the motion and agreed that the lawsuit was properly joined with a claim against a Texas debt collector. Hasbun v. Pan Am Life Ins. Grp., Inc., H-13-830, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200375 (S.D. Tex. March 28, 2014).
- In worker’s compensation insurance bad faith case involving death benefits, Jeff successfully argued that employee’s common-law spouse could maintain a claim against an insurance adjuster under Arizona law. Following Jeff’s argument, the Court remanded the case. Watkins v. Praetorian Ins. Co., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24426, No. H-20-3120 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 9, 2021)
- Jeff represented an employee of a defense contractor on a military base in Afghanistan who sustained injuries after a drunk driver slammed into her bus. The defendant moved for summary judgment and requested that the Court apply laws of Afghanistan, which did not recognize a claim for negligent entrustment. Based on Jeff’s briefing, the Court rejected this argument and found that the interests of the State of California outweighed the interest of the republic of Afghanistan.
- In a wrongful death claim under the Texas Tort Claim Act, Jeff successfully opposed a motion for summary judgment asserting sovereign immunity. Based on his briefing, the Trial Court found that the emergency exception immunity and official immunity defenses did not apply. The defendant’s interlocutory appeal is currently pending in the Houston Court of Appeals. See Sauls et al. v. City of Houston, Case number, 14-20-00485-CV.
In his free time, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, playing the guitar, and watching the San Francisco Giants and the Fresno State Bulldogs.