David Leonard

My role as a counselor for clients is just as important as being a strong advocate in the courtroom. I’m always straightforward about the pros and cons of litigation and the likelihood of success if we take a case all the way to trial. I am a much more effective advocate in the courtroom when my client is well-advised and on board with a shared vision on the best way to resolve the case.

David Leonard leverages his real-world trial experience to help clients achieve successful outcomes in a broad range of complex commercial litigation matters before courts all over Texas and in arbitration. He takes the lead through every phase of the dispute resolution process, from initial case assessment and pre-suit negotiations, to fact and expert discovery, trial and appeal. David is an aggressive advocate for his clients in the courtroom and a practical negotiator when their interests are better served with a favorable compromise.

David’s clients range from high net worth individuals to multi-national corporations across many industries, with an emphasis on disputes in the oil and gas and commercial real estate industries. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Texas and New Mexico.

Representative Experience

Key Representative Experience

  • Second-chair lawyer in the representation of two E&P companies in a payment dispute with a working interest owner in the Eagle Ford Shale. Obtained a take-nothing summary judgment and then secured a jury verdict awarding attorneys’ fees after a two-day jury trial in Karnes County, Texas.  
  • Second-chaired a successful AAA arbitration (applying Texas law) on behalf of a global manufacturer in a payment dispute with its former South African distributor.  Also obtained an award of attorneys’ fees and a take-nothing judgment in the defense of the distributor’s counterclaims alleging millions of dollars in damages. 
  • Second-chair lawyer in the representation of a Houston-based, Fortune 200 company in the defense of a $3 million breach-of-contract-claim brought by its former labor supplier. After a six-day jury trial in Harris County, the jury returned a verdict finding Gray Reed’s client had no liability and therefore no damages were awarded to the Plaintiff.
  • Lead associate in the representation of a Crestwood Equity Partners subsidiary in a lawsuit over the taxable value of an underground natural gas storage cavern facility in Matagorda County, Texas. Following a two week bench trial, the Court reduced the facility’s taxable value by more than $250 million for the two tax years at issue.
  • In a commercial payment dispute before United States District Judge Keith Ellison, Southern District of Texas, obtained a summary judgment awarding damages to Fortune 500 manufacturing company against a former customer and its owner (in his capacity as guarantor).  Also obtained a take-nothing summary judgment dismissing claims for fraud, breach-of-contract and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act related to alleged damages of nearly $500,000.
  • Obtained a $3.15 million judgment on behalf of franchisor in a suit against its former franchisee in the British Isles and the franchisee’s principal. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued summary judgment orders finding the franchisee breached the franchise agreement, the principal breached his personal guaranty, and dismissing the franchisee's counterclaim seeking more than $9 million in damages. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment orders. Jani-King Franchising, Inc. v. Jani-King (GB), Ltd. and Ian Thomas, No. 17-11254 in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Other Notable Experience

  • Represented non-operating working interest owner (a publicly-traded E&P company) in prosecuting claims against the operator arising from botched attempts to complete oil and gas wells, which resulted in corrosion of well casings and abandonment of wellbores; the suit was brought in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.
  • Represented commercial retail landlord in defense of claims by tenant for possession of unleased storage area in shopping center. Successfully defended tenant's petition for writ of re-entry in the Justice Court and tenant's application for temporary restraining order in the District Court.
  • Represented investor in an oil and gas service company in prosecuting claims under the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act against the company’s chief executive officer who diverted the client’s cash investment to himself and an unrelated entity. Obtained a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, writ of garnishment, and writ of attachment to recover the stolen funds and other amounts. 
  • Represented owner of multifamily apartment complex to negotiate the removal of unlawful notices of lis pendens filed against properties throughout Texas based on claims made in a pending partnership dispute in California.
  • Prosecuted adverse possession claims on behalf of a ranch owner in Ector County, Texas against titleholders of surface property to aggregate record title to support development of a solar farm.
  • Represented heavy equipment dealer in various disputes with customers arising from the rental and/or sale of equipment exceeding $3 million in value.
  • Represented Houston-based commercial real estate developer in disputes with tenants and others at retail developments across Texas.
  • Represented publicly-traded REIT in disputes with national tenants at retail developments across Texas.
  • Represented Houston’s largest healthcare system in disputes with tenants at medical office buildings across the Houston area.
  • Represented a publicly-traded REIT in a commercial eviction proceeding to remove a tenant operating a surgical hospital in a large medical office building.
  • Represented a publicly-traded telecommunications company in lease and easement disputes relating to cellular equipment at sites across Texas.
  • Represented the buyer of a metal fabrication company in a lawsuit against the seller of the company in claims of fraud and breach-of-contract arising from the sale of the company.
  • Secured a summary judgment on behalf of a global franchisor against a former Belgian franchisee and its principals for fraud and breach-of-contract arising from the franchisee’s default under the franchise agreement.
  • Successfully defended franchisor in an appeal from the denial of foreign defendants’ special appearances. Jani-King Franchising, Inc. v. Falco Franchising, S.A., No. 05-15-00335-CV, 2016 WL 2609314 (Tex. App.—Dallas May 5, 2016, no pet.).
  • Secured a summary judgment on behalf of a global valve manufacturer against its former distributor for the fraudulent transfer, breach-of-contract and misappropriation of construction trust funds.
  • Represented taxpayers (ranging from owners of natural gas storage facilities, landfills, manufacturing facilities, contaminated lands, undeveloped land and personal property such as pipestock inventory) in valuation disputes with appraisal districts.

Pro Bono Representation

  • Obtained a final judgment substantially reducing the taxable value of the homestead of a member of the Houston Fire Department.
  • Obtained the dismissal of claims against a Vietnam veteran arising from alleged consumer credit card debt.
  • Obtained the dismissal of claims against an elderly widow arising from alleged consumer credit card debt.
  • Pro bono attorney, Houston Area Women’s Center.
Thought Leadership / News
February 23, 2023 
 Speeches and Presentations
Trends in Oil and Gas Litigation

Texas Journal of Oil, Gas & Energy Law 2023 Symposium

September 12, 2022 
 Speeches and Presentations
What Commercial Landlords Need to Know About Lease Defaults

Dallas Bar Association - Real Estate Section

July 15, 2022 
 Speeches and Presentations
What Commercial Landlords Need to Know About Lease Defaults

State Bar of Texas Advanced Real Estate Law Course 

February 16, 2022 
 Speeches and Presentations
What Commercial Landlords Need to Know about Lease Defaults

Houston Bar Association - Real Estate Section

  • Named a Rising Star by Texas Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters company) as published in Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines (2015 - 2022)
  • Named a Houstonia Magazine Top Lawyer in Houston (2019 - 2023)
Organizational Involvement
  • St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
    • Board of Directors, St. Martin's Episcopal Preschool
  • Texas Exes Houston Chapter
  • J.D., The University of Texas School of Law, Managing Editor, Texas Journal of Oil, Gas & Energy Law (2011)
  • B.A., with honors, The University of Texas at Austin, Phi Beta Kappa (2008)
Bar Admissions
  • Texas
  • New Mexico
Court Admissions
  • United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
  • United States District Court, Northern District of Texas
  • United States District Court, Western District of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
When I Feel Most At Home
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Traveling somewhere new
  • Attending sporting events
  • Eating at one of my many favorite restaurants in Houston