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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 focuses on helping clients achieve successful, cost-efficient 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 mid-size businesses to multi-national corporations across many industries, with an emphasis on oil and gas, commercial real estate, and franchising and distribution. He has guided clients to favorable results in disputes involving a wide variety of complex legal issues, including breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, landlord-tenant disputes, property tax valuations, shareholder disputes and mineral rights.

Representative Experience

Key Representative Experience

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • ‚ÄčLead associate in obtaining a settlement on behalf of a subsidiary of Crestwood Equity Partners in two lawsuits challenging the appraised value of a natural gas storage facility in Matagorda County, Texas.The settlement reduced the facility’s taxable value by more than $360 million across the four tax years at issue, resulting in a total tax savings in excess of $5 million. 
  • 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.).

Transactional Litigation

  • 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 forklift dealer in a dispute with a multi-national company arising from an equipment sale exceeding $1,000,000 in value.
  • Represented the purchaser of mineral interests in the Eagle Ford Shale in a dispute with the seller.
  • 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.
  • Negotiated a favorable settlement for a publicly-traded oilfield services corporation in a dispute arising from a marine technology sales contract with a New York company.

Real Estate Disputes

  • 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.
  • Advised a publicly-traded telecommunications company in lease and easement disputes relating to cellular equipment.
  • Secured a summary judgment on behalf of a hospital system against a former tenant for breach of a promissory note.
  • Advised a Houston-based hospital system in the disposal of a tenant’s abandoned medical equipment.
  • Represented the purchaser of commercial real estate in a dispute regarding the disbursement of earnest money.
  • Represented an industrial lessee in a dispute with the lessor concerning the usage of leased premises.

General Litigation

  • 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 an oilfield equipment manufacturer in payment and performance disputes with vendors and customers.
  • Represented a publicly-traded telecommunications company in consumer disputes.
  • Represented the executor of an estate in a lawsuit against the debtor of the estate.
  • Asserted a Chapter 95 defense on behalf of Fortune 500 chemical refining companies in personal injury lawsuits in the state and federal court.
  • Represented a high-rise condominium owners’ association in a construction defect lawsuit against the general contractor, sub-contractors, and product manufacturer.

Appellate Experience

  • Prepared an appellate briefing and presented an oral argument to the Fifth Court of Appeals in a breach of fiduciary duty dispute arising from an alleged attorney-client relationship.  Gillis v. Provost & Umphrey Law Firm, LLP, No. 05-13-00892, 2015 WL 170240 (Tex. App.—Dallas Jan. 14, 2015, no pet.).
  • Petitioned for a writ of mandamus on behalf of minority shareholders in a discovery dispute concerning the scope of discovery in advance of a motion to dismiss based on a Special Litigation Committee’s recommendation.  In re Platinum Energy Solutions, Inc., 420 S.W.3d 342 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, orig. proceeding).
  • Assisted with an appellate briefing for the plaintiff/appellee in a breach of contract case and secured affirmance of a favorable trial court judgment.  Sullivan v. Jani-King of New York, Inc., No. 05-11-01546, 2013 WL 3553396 (Tex. App.—Dallas July 11, 2013, pet. denied).
  • Assisted with an appellate briefing for the plaintiff/appellee in a Fourteenth Amendment and Texas Whistleblower Act case.  Alief Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Perry, 440 S.W.3d 228 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, pet. denied).

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)
  • 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

Community Involvement, Memberships & Affiliations

  • St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
  • 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, Phi Beta Kappa (2008)
Bar Admission
  • Texas
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