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David Leonard
Partner

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 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 arising from the oil and gas, commercial real estate, and franchising/distribution industries.

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 nutritional supplement 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 500 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.
  • ​Successfully defended a global 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.).
  • 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 Jani-King Franchising, Inc. 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 heavy equipment dealer in multiple payment disputes with customers arising from the sale of equipment exceeding $2,500,000 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 industrial landlord in dispute with tenant involving fraudulent transfer of assets and damage to leased premises.
  • 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.
  • Represented a private equity group and its shareholders in the direct and derivative claims in connection with the financing of a hydraulic fracturing service company.
  • Defended an operator in a lawsuit arising from an East Texas title dispute.
  • 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.
  • 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 a wide variety of property owners (ranging from natural gas storage facilities, landfills, manufacturing facilities, contaminated lands, undeveloped land, and personal property such as pipestock inventory) in litigation involving property taxes.

Pro Bono Representation

  • 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 against claims arising from alleged consumer credit card debt.
  • Pro bono attorney, Houston Area Women’s Center.
Thought Leadership / News
December 16, 2019 
 Press Releases
November 6, 2019 
 Speeches and Presentations
Recovering Attorneys’ Fees: Case Law Update and Lessons from the Trenches

Houston Bar Association

April 17, 2019 
 Speeches and Presentations
Facts and Fantasy in the Fracking Debate

Permian Basin Landman’s Association Annual Education Seminar 

September 19, 2018 
 In the News
Fifth Circuit Affirms $3M Win for Gray Reed in Franchise Dispute
Texas Lawbook (subscription required)
Honors
  • Named a Rising Star by Texas Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters company) as published in Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines (2015 - 2020)
  • Named a Houstonia Magazine Top Lawyer in Houston (2019)
Organizational Involvement

Professional Activities, Memberships & Affiliations

  • Urban Land Institute

Community Involvement, Memberships & Affiliations

  • St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
  • Texas Exes Houston Chapter
Education
  • 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, 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