LOVE, litigation and art: A Houston energy lawyer’s unique legal battle
Houston lawyer Kevin Lipson, who has represented NRG, Edison International and other major energy companies in high-stakes regulatory disputes, has a fascinating new client: the executor of the estate of famed New York pop artist Robert Indiana, who is best known for his “LOVE” sculpture and its many variants, including on stamps and in paintings. .
Indiana’s longtime agent, Morgan Art Foundation, sued Lipson’s client, as well as the famed New York pop artist’s former caretaker and his art publisher, for abusing their position to “exploit Indiana for profit,” including selling art forgeries for millions of dollars that they falsely claimed was his work.
Lipson, who once helped negotiate the largest settlement in the history of the regulated natural gas business, says his client did nothing wrong and that MAF may actually “have pieces of art that belong to the estate” and may owe money due the estate. Lipson, a partner in the Houston office of Hogan Lovells, also supervised an auction at Christie’s in New York last week in which two paintings owned by Indiana sold for a combined $5 million, which will go to pay litigation costs and help renovate the deceased artist’s historic residence on an island off the coast of Maine.
Texas Supreme Court’s ‘oil & gas justice’ retires
Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson, who has served on the state’s highest court for 13 years as one of its most pro-business jurists, is retiring on Dec. 31. A graduate of Texas Tech School of Law, Johnson grew up in Lubbock and was a decorated Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam.
Johnson said he loved serving on the state Supreme Court because he was able to make a difference. “The law is the superstructure of society, the framework for doing what we can do,” he said.
Appellate law expert Christopher Kratovil said that Johnson was the “voice of West Texas” at the high court. “He has been an important justice on oil and gas and land owners rights space,” he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announced his replacement in the next month.
Lawyers for Houston coal mining company owner wins $190 million settlement
Three years of hard work and long hours are paying off for the Houston litigation boutique Schiffer Hicks Johnson and their client, Natural Resource Partners.
In November 2015, NRP, a Houston company with significant interests in coal mining, sued Missouri-based Foresight Energy for not making payments the companies agreed to in their lease of a coal mine in Illinois.
Foresight claimed they owed nothing because the mine was closed due to a fire caused by spontaneous combustion, which Foresight lawyers argued was “an act of God” and thus relieved the company from its financial obligations to NRP.
But NRP’s lawyers, led by Logan Johnson of Schiffer Hicks, argued the fire was no act of God and demanded that the contract terms be met. Literally at 10 p.m., the night before the trial was set to start, Foresight agreed to pay NRP $190 million in payments over the next 15 years, including a $25 million payment now.
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