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Mark T. Davenport Practice Overview

AV® Preeminent
    Mark
    T.    Davenport Headshot

Mr. Davenport is one of the founders of the firm. In 1986, he and Mr. Figari left Johnson & Swanson, then one of Dallas’ largest law firms, where they were senior litigation partners. Mr. Davenport wanted to form a top-notch “boutique” commercial litigation firm rivaling the commercial litigation sections of the larger established firms, but with less structure and politics and more energy, enthusiasm, and humor. His belief that dedicated and gifted lawyers with high energy levels and compatible personalities in a smaller environment could successfully compete in the fast lane of commercial litigation with the larger firms (and have fun doing it) has proven correct over the last 25 years.

Mr. Davenport has significant trial experience, having handled thousands of cases and tried over 150 through verdict in state and federal courts, both in Texas and throughout the United States. He is one of the lead trial lawyers for several of the nation’s largest title insurers, with much of his recent attention focused on defending those companies in cases involving wide-spread mortgage loan fraud schemes orchestrated by third parties. He also serves as one of the lead trial lawyers for many of the nation's largest life and disability insurers, defending select high-end cases and the bad faith claims that always accompany them.

Central to Mr. Davenport’s success in defending his clients are his insistence on understanding their business and legal objectives and his direct, no-nonsense approach to dispute resolution. He generally develops a good rapport with opposing counsel, even in difficult cases, and believes in taking the “high road” in his professional conduct, which has contributed not only to his success but also that of the firm.

Highlights

  • Mark Davenport was lead counsel representing Coach Don Nelson in his suit to recover $6.5 million in earned deferred compensation, which the Mavericks refused to pay him when he accepted a job as the coach of the Golden State Warriors. After Nelson initiated the arbitration proceedings, the Mavericks filed a counterclaim asserting that Nelson had used “trade secrets” of the Mavericks when the Warriors defeated them in the 2006 playoffs. Mr. Davenport tried the arbitration proceeding, resulting in an award of over $7 million in damages, fees, and costs on September 11, 2008.
  • A defense verdict in a federal jury trial in Houston in a multi-million dollar suit by the largest general agent of a major insurance company, which terminated the agent when it demutualized and became a stock company.
  • A favorable settlement in a complex case in federal court in Brownsville involving a real estate developer’s attempts to develop a world class marina on a peninsula underlying the Old Queen Isabella Causeway connecting Padre Island to the Texas mainland. The development ran afoul because the U.S. Corps of Engineers had the right to dump spoilage on the property dredged from the Intracoastal Canal.
  • A favorable decision in federal court in Corpus Christi on claims by heirs of persons alleging rights to “lots” on Mustang Island off the Texas coast obtained from fictitious plats prepared and recorded in the late nineteenth century.
  • A successful settlement of a derivative action in state court in Dallas, in which Mr. Davenport represented the directors of the Las Colinas Association against claims that it sold its cable television underground hardware for less than fair consideration.
  • A defense verdict in a West Texas state court for an insurer who issued a large life insurance policy on a bank owner who, while under investigation by the FDIC for bank fraud, died in a mysterious private plane crash shortly before his bank was to be closed; he had amassed millions in coverage from different companies through misrepresentations. The jury found fraud and rescinded the policy.

Education

  • JD, Southern Methodist University, School of Law, 1969:
  • BA, University of the South and Southern Methodist University, 1967

Honors

  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers (membership limited to 1% of licensed attorneys in state, practicing trial law at least 15 years and meeting the highest standards; election by Fellows)
  • Advocate, American Board of Trial Advocates (Advocate – must have tried at least 50 jury civil trials to a conclusion in state or federal court; meeting the highest standards; election by Board)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America under Business Litigation in all editions since 1992
  • Named Texas Super Lawyer or Outstanding Trial Lawyer in numerous publications over the years, including Texas Monthly, Dallas Business Journal, D Magazine, Corporate Counsel, Who's Who Legal: USA Commercial Litigation, Who's Who Legal: Texas 2007 & 2008, The International Who's Who of Commercial Litigation 2008, and The International Who's Who Business Lawyers 2008
  • Master Bencher Emeritus, W.M. “Mac” Taylor, Jr. American Inn of Court

Memberships

  • State Bar of Texas
  • Dallas Bar Association
  • Fellow, Dallas Bar Foundation
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Served as a member of the Executive Board of Southern Methodist University

Publications / Speaking Engagements

  • Mr. Davenport is a frequent speaker at legal seminars. Topics presented by Mr. Davenport include advanced lay and expert witness deposition preparation, effective cross-examination, effective jury argument, the defense of bad faith disability and title insurance cases, the defense of loan fraud cases, and a number of other litigation related matters. An example of some of his presentations are:
    Loan Fraud Litigation, Oklahoma Land Title Association Convention, Norman, Oklahoma, April 20, 2012
    Webinar on January 25, 2012: The Closer’s Balancing Act: Underwriter, Borrower, and Lender Obligations. Mr. Davenport on Panel with John Killea, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Stewart Title Guaranty Company; Frank Pellegrini, President Elect of the American Land Title Association; and Bruce Ramge, Director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance
    Loan Fraud Awareness, Texas Land Title Association - 96th Annual Conference, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, June 5-7, 2006, Real Estate Law Conference - South Texas College of Law, Houston, Texas, June 7, 2007, and American Bar Association - TIP Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, February 29, 2008
    Expert Deposition Preparation, UHY Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors - Quarterly Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, March 13-14, 2006
    Pointers and Suggestions for Effective Jury Argument, American Bar Association - TIPS Mid-Winter Meeting, Key Biscayne, Florida, January 12-13, 2006
    Avoiding Litigation: The Responsibilities of Leadership, UnumProvident Corporation - 2005 Leadership Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, March 3, 2005
    Problems and Pointers in Litigation: Defending Disability Insurers, American Conference Institute - Disability Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, June 14-15, 2001
    Objections at Trial, 2000 and How to Deal with the Difficult Lawyer, National Practice Institute, Dallas, Texas, September 22, 2000
    Discovery Attacks - The Reality of Claims Litigation in the New Millennium, 138th Association of Life Insurance Counsel Meeting, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, May 21-23, 2000
    Problems and Pointers in Litigation: Defending Disability Insurers, American Conference Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, June 10-11, 1999
    Under Siege: Litigating Against the Odds, Eastern Claims Conference, New York, New York, March 2-3, 1998
    Defending Bad Faith Cases, Defense Research Institute, Chicago, Illinois, May 14-16, 1997
    Effective Cross-Examination, Eastern Claims Conference, New York, New York, March 1-2, 1993
    Advanced Witness Preparation, International Claims Association, Vancouver, B.C., October 14-15, 1991