Tom O’Brien

Practice Group Chair - Professional Liability Litigation (Firmwide) Partner

tom.obrien@bakerbotts.com

Dallas

P: +1.214.953.6934 F: +1.214.661.4934
Tom O'Brien

Chair of the Firmwide Professional Liability Litigation Group, Tom O'Brien has a national securities, shareholder, professional liability and commercial litigation practice. He enjoys and thrives at representing companies and professionals in their most critical moments, such as when they face a major securities fraud case or a malpractice suit challenging their work. Two cases he has litigated have reached the Supreme Court of the United States, and one case he tried ended in a $7 billion judgment described by the District Court and the Fifth Circuit as a “once in a lifetime result.” In re ASARCO, LLC, 751 F.3d 291, 296 (5th Cir. 2014). Following graduation from law school with high honors and before joining Baker Botts, Mr. O'Brien served as a law clerk to the Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Securities and Shareholder Litigation. Mr. O'Brien has represented public companies, their officers and directors and public accounting firms in litigation and investigations in Delaware, New York, Texas, and other jurisdictions related to securities, mergers and acquisitions, corporate control, shareholder demands, financial reporting, short-swing profits, and audits. For example, he defended one of the most closely-watched securities fraud class actions of all time, which made two trips to the Supreme Court of the United States and resulted in defendants having the right to rebut the presumption of reliance at class certification. See Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2398 (2014).

Professional Liability Litigation. Mr. O'Brien also has defended law, audit, tax, and advisory firms against professional liability claims. He has represented professional service firms against a variety of claims brought by clients and non-clients inside and outside of Texas. For example, he received a dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that an international law firm committed fraud and breached a contract in connection with an arbitration proceeding. The dismissal was affirmed by the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court of Texas denied the plaintiffs' petition for review. Patten v. Johnston, Case No. 14-0433, in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas.

Commercial Litigation. Mr. O'Brien has significant experience with other complex business-related disputes as well, including substantial experience with bankruptcy litigation. Last fall, he was lead trial counsel in a contested hearing over the total enterprise value of a worldwide provider of oilfield transportation and search and rescue services. Complimenting the Baker Botts team led by Mr. O’Brien, the Bankruptcy Court said: “[T]his is the most fun that I’ve had since I’ve been on the Bench. . . . [E]verybody advocated for their clients in an effort to be what a lawyer is supposed to be.” In re Bristow Group, Inc., Case No. 19-32713-H2-11, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Mr. O’Brien also participated in a four-week trial in a fraudulent transfer and breach of fiduciary duty case that resulted in a $7 billion judgment described by the District Court and Fifth Circuit as a “once in a lifetime result.” In re ASARCO, LLC, 751 F.3d 291, 296 (5th Cir. 2014). He also tried the two-week confirmation hearing in a bankruptcy case characterized by the Bankruptcy Court as “probably the most successful Chapter 11 of any magnitude in the history of the [Bankruptcy] Code.” Id. at 298.

Related Experience

Securities and Shareholder Litigation and Investigations

  • Major oilfield services company – defense of securities fraud class action concerning estimated liability for asbestos claims, accounting for claims on fixed-price construction contracts and projected merger cost savings
  • Major oilfield services company – analysis and resolution of complex claim under Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act
  • International audit, tax and advisory firm – defense of securities fraud class action concerning audit of start-up company that went bankrupt
  • International audit, tax and advisory firm – defense of securities class action concerning audit of consumer financial services company
  • Media company – defense of claim under Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act
  • Directors of media companies – defense of derivative lawsuits concerning mergers
  • Provider of onshore seismic data acquisition services – defense of shareholder litigation challenging stock-for-stock merger
  • Provider of loyalty program and customer relationship management services – represented company in dispute with minority shareholder that refused to honor its contractual obligation to consent to a merger
  • Major engineering, procurement, construction and installation company focused on offshore oil and gas projects – represented company in SEC investigation
  • Major civil construction company – represented audit committee in internal investigation
  • Leading offshore drilling company – represent company in connection with claims under Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act
  • Provider of industrial aviation services – represent company in connection with claims under Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act
  • Natural gas exploration and production company – represent company in connection with claims under Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act

Professional Liability

  • International law firm – defense of malpractice claims relating to patent maintenance
  • International law firm – defense of malpractice and overbilling claims relating to representation of entities in the jewelry industry
  • International law firm – defense of malpractice and other claims relating to representation of limited partner in connection with various transactions
  • International law firm – defense of fraud and breach of contract claims in connection with an arbitration proceeding
  • International law firm – defense against motion to disqualify counsel and petition for a writ of mandamus in patent infringement lawsuit
  • National law firm – defense of malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty claims arising from representation of public policy research organization
  • National law firm – defense of conspiracy and deepening insolvency claims filed by Chapter 7 trustee
  • Texas law firm – defense of malpractice claim arising from bank's failure to perfect its security interests
  • International audit, tax and advisory firm – defense of multiple lawsuits relating to tax strategies
  • International audit, tax and advisory firm – defense of breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy claims relating to bank's issuance of stock
  • International audit, tax, and advisory firm – defense of fraud claim relating to sale of assets
  • International audit, tax, and advisory firm – defense of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conspiracy, and negligence claims asserted by receiver in insurance company's liquidation proceedings

Other Complex Commercial Litigation

  • Mining company – represented ASARCO LLC in prosecution of several fraudulent transfer claims, including suit that resulted in a $7 billion plaintiff's verdict; Baker Botts was awarded a $4.1 million fee enhancement based on the “rare and extraordinary” results from the suit
  • Mining company – represented ASARCO LLC in bankruptcy confirmation hearing that resulted in all creditors being paid in full
  • Acquisition entity – prosecution of drag-along litigation involving $2 billion interest in transmission and distribution utility
  • Worldwide provider of oilfield transportation and search and rescue services – represented company in bankruptcy confirmation hearing involving valuation issues
  • Contractor and engineering company serving the power and energy sectors – defense of earn-out dispute in arbitration
  • Electric utility – litigated contested matter in bankruptcy court involving termination of coal supply agreement
  • Midstream oil company – litigated contested matter in bankruptcy court involving sale of debtors’ assets
  • Home security company – defense of breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent transfer claims involving valuation issues
  • International oil company – defense of age discrimination case challenging company’s practice of removing its corporate pilots from flight duty at a certain age
  • International oil company – defense of breach of contract lawsuit concerning stock options
  • International technology company – prosecution of earn-out litigation involving claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty
  • Leading milk marketing cooperative and dairy food processor – defense of negligence and joint liability claims

Awards & Community

Recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer-Rising Star (Thomson Reuters), 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018

Listed as one of the Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas by D Magazine, 2017

News

Insights

Events

Recent

Baker Botts Corporate Series: Section 16 Reporting and Liability 

Baker Botts partners Hillary Holmes and Tom O'Brien present an overview of Section 16 reporting and liability. The overview will include a discussion of Section 16(a) reporting requirements, liability under Section 16(b) for short-swing trading profits, traps the unwary, recent enforcement and litigation developments, and practical tips.