Earnest Wotring is a founding partner of Baker • Wotring LLP, and for over 25 years, he has tried and litigated cases involving catastrophic injury and death, commercial law, complex issues of environmental law, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, medical malpractice and healthcare litigation, and other cutting-edge legal issues. He has litigated on such varied issues as the correct method to calculate penalties and interest under the Texas Insurance Code, why it takes millions of dollar to litigate a breach of contract claim in today’s legal environment, the loss of household services for the death of a loved one, why oil and gas reserves are competent evidence to support economic damages in Texas, why civil penalties are required for historic environmental contamination, the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of hydronephrosis for an infant, why the absence of mud flaps on a pick-up truck in Texas cannot be negligence, and how to run away from charging feral pigs. Mr. Wotring was lead counsel for Harris County suing defendants for environmental civil penalties, resulting in a $29.2 million settlement for the County and the State of Texas, netting $20 million for Harris County. Recently, Mr. Wotring prevailed on behalf of his client in a two-week jury trial involving breach of contract under the Texas Prompt Pay Statute, obtaining a multi-million dollar judgment for his client. Mr. Wotring has litigated cases for healthcare institutions and professionals seeking payment for providing services in cases involving breach of contract, antitrust, and ERISA. As lead appellate attorney, Mr. Wotring has argued in front of the Supreme Court of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the First, Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Court of Appeals for the State of Texas in cases involving insurance coverage, federal preemption under the Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act, product liability, and negligence.
Mr. Wotring was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma and attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1988 magna cum laude. He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1991 with honors before serving as briefing attorney for then Justice and now Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht on the Supreme Court of Texas. Mayor Sylvester Turner has appointed Mr. Wotring as a Trustee on the Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Board.
· Representing an investment advisor sued by his client for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in cases involving the evaluation of dozens apartment complexes and other real estate properties, resulting in a favorable resolution for client;
· Trial attorney for large physician practice group against health insurance company for breach of contract and underpayments on over 100,000 claims. After two-week trial, client received a judgment of over $6.8 million on appeal;
· Lead trial attorney for local government seeking civil penalties as a result of dioxin contamination of the San Jacinto River, resulting in total settlement for Harris County and the State of Texas of $29.2 million, netting $20 million for Harris County;
· Lead attorney for a group of allied health professionals who sued to recover underpayments from health insurers and other payors, resulting in the filing of numerous lawsuits for breach of contract and antitrust claims, addressing various ERISA defenses, and involvement in national class action before achieving favorable result for client;
· Appellate lawyer in King v. Dallas Fire Ins. Co., 85 S.W.3d 185 (Tex. 2001), in a case involving the issue whether the intentional act exclusion in an insurance policy was to be viewed from the perspective of the insured or the insured’s employee.
· Lead trial attorney for local government seeking to recover civil penalties for contamination of groundwater from leaking underground storage tanks, resulting in total settlement of $4.7 million for the local government and the State of Texas;
· Lead appellate lawyer in Feldt v. Mentor Corporation, 61 F.3d 431 (5th Cir. 1995) and 95 F.3d 4 (5th Cir. 1996), in case involving the appropriate scope of federal preemption of the Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for state-law tort claims arising out of a medical device.
· Lead trial attorney in a medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff died of a blood clot while at home in front of her husband and daughter, achieving a favorable verdict for client;
· Lead appellate lawyer in Sauder Custom Fabrication, Inc. v. Boyd, 967 S.W.3d 349 (Tex. 1998), in case holding that a product manufacturer does not have a duty to warn the average user of the product of obvious dangers of the product overturning a jury award in favor of the plaintiff.
· Lead attorney in International Paper Co. v. Harris County, 445 S.W.3d 379 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2013), in a case involving claims that local government’s retention of counsel on contingency fee violated defendant’s Due Process rights.
· Lead trial attorney for local government seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief for violations of the Texas Outdoor Burn Ban, resulting in total settlement of $4.0 million.
Publications and Presentations
· “Diversity and Inclusion: A New Strategy,” American Corporate Counsel Meeting Houston, April 12, 2018.
· “Trial Tool Kit & Review or New Federal Rules on Electronic Discovery,” August 15, 2017.
· “Hot Trends in Litigation and the Way Forward,” South Texas College of Law 23rd Annual Symposium Ethics in Environmental & Energy Law, panel member, February 24, 2017.
· “Institutional Governance and the Environmental Crisis,” 28th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference panel member in Austin, Texas August 4-5, 2016.
· “How to Deal With Difficult Counsel in Litigation?” CLE for Harris County Attorney’s Office, September 29, 2015.
· “Update from 84th Legislature,” HBA Environmental Law Section, June 10, 2015.
· “Ethical Issues in Settlement,” NARTC Summer Meeting, March 2014.
· “MERS Update and Contingent Fee Litigation,” TDCAA, Civil Law CLE, May 8, 2013.
· “Neutralizing the Neutral Treating Physician,” NARTC 2012 Fall Meeting, September 28, 2012.
· “Caselaw Update from Plaintiff and Defense Perspectives,” GHSHRM 2010 Education Day, March 5, 2010.
· “Proper Remedies in Commercial Cases,” 30th Annual Advanced Civil Trial Course, State Bar of Texas CLE, Dallas, Austin and Houston, Texas, 2007.
· The First 24 Hours: Responding to a Crisis in Your Institution, Greater Houston Society of Healthcare Risk Management, February 2007.
· Issues Regarding the Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Care, 18th Annual Health Law Conference, April 2006.
· Sexual Assault: Responding to a Crisis in Your Institution, American Society of Healthcare Risk Management, October 2006.
· Critical Response: The First 24 Hours, American Society of Healthcare Risk Management, October 2005.
· Issues Regarding the Withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Care, Houston Bar Association, September 2005.
· The Withdrawal of Care: Legal, Ethical, and Media Issues, Greater Houston Society of Healthcare Risk Management, June 2005.
· Nursing Malpractice Claims and Depositions, Texas Nursing Association, April 2005.
· Litigation and Trial Tactics, University of Houston Law Foundation, December 2003.
· Occurrence-Innocent Insured Pays Price for Guilty Third Party? State Bar of Texas Insurance Section Annual Meeting, June 2002.