Business Litigation
When individuals come together to forward a common commercial goal, they often fail to consider what will happen in the event that their interests are not always in harmony. Long time friends and family become crosswise. This can result in protracted litigation of the most contentious kind. Complex issues of corporate law, contract law, civil procedure, and even family law, can arise. A willingness to pursue creative attempts at compromise, as well as the steeled will to relentlessly fight through the court system, become necessary. At Smith & Fawer, our attorneys are seasoned in all types of corporate, limited liability company, and partnership disputes, and that savvy gives them a particular advantage in so-called “business divorces.” Likewise, whether a commercial dispute consists of a suit over a promissory note, a lease dispute, or a claim for breach of contract, the lawyers at Smith & Fawer bring years of expertise to defend their client’s interests.
Examples of Practice
  • Battle over ownership or governance of famous New Orleans business institutions, including: a company that produces most Mardi Gras parades; one of the oldest and most renown restaurants in the world; a hotel and tourism consortium; and a regional distributor of salon products.
  • Battle over billion dollar sports, automobile dealership, and banking empire;
  • Prosecuting claims of oppressed minority shareholders in several New Orleans area small businesses, including: a multi-million dollar supplier of fuel to vessels; a famous local bar; a construction company; and a metal fabrication company;
  • Representation of owner of vessel design in suit against former partner who misappropriated the design;
  • Defense of a publicly-traded company in a multi-million arbitration arising out of the alleged breach of a merger agreement;
  • Defense of a local developer in a suit brought by a housing authority claiming that the developer failed to provide the development and management services called for by its contract;
  • Battles over control of local country club and tennis club;
  • Securing multi-million dollar settlement for minority owner of a closely-held company in litigation related to his expulsion from company;
  • Securing multi-million settlement and judgment for member of closely-held company after four day trial.

In the news

Attorneys for late Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson fight to keep mental competency case sealed

Jul 09, 2020

Tom Benson deposition shows mental decline, Rita LeBlanc's lawyer says

May 19, 2016
Catastrophic Injury Litigation
When you have been injured, the first thing you need to do is seek attention for your injuries. The next thing you need to do is to make sure the person that hurt you is held responsible for his or her misconduct. Smith & Fawer lawyers fight hard against the companies and individuals that harm its clients.
Examples of Practice
  • Trying to successful verdict a 7-figure claim for a widow against a major tire manufacturer for a blow-out caused by the manufacturer’s defective tire;
  • Securing a multi-million dollar settlement for the children of a husband and wife killed as a result of a head-on collision with a commercial delivery vehicle having faulty brakes, a problem of which the delivery company was aware;
  • Securing a seven-figure settlement for an individual who suffered acute liver failure as a result of an adverse reaction to a pharmaceutical drug;
  • Securing a large settlement for adolescent who suffered sepsis as a result of misdiagnosis.

In the news

Bar responsibility arguments heard; State Supreme Court looks at Boot case

Jan 20, 2001

MADD backs injury suit against bar liability for minors is key issue in case

Jul 28, 2000
Civil Rights Litigation
Smith & Fawer’s work in the field of Civil Rights focuses on citizens whose rights under the U.S. Constitution have been violated by “State Actors” – public employees such as Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, and their officers, district attorneys, and others. These cases might include violations of the First Amendment (Free Speech) and claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, and excessive force, under the Fourth Amendment. Although Smith & Fawer has, typically, represented the aggrieved citizen, Smith & Fawer has experience with representing public employees (including peace officers), as well, whose employers have violated their Civil Rights. Whether you’re a private citizen or public employee, we welcome your call.With COVID-19, we anticipate that there will be claims on behalf of pre-trial detainees and convicted prisoners, including claims for the failure to protect and/or the failure to treat medically. People detained in a jail or incarcerated in a State or Federal Prison have fundamental rights, and Smith & Fawer is experienced with representing such individuals.
Examples of Practice
  • Representation of victims of false arrest/excessive force by peace officers;
  • Representation of victims of false imprisonment/malicious prosecution;
  • Representation of citizens whose Civil Rights have been violated by state actors, including district attorneys/judges;
  • Prosecuting cases on behalf of detainees and prisoners for conditions of their confinement and/or under the Bivens case;
  • Prosecuting cases on behalf of public employees, including peace officers, who contend that their First Amendment (Free Speech) rights were violated by their employers;
  • Representation of persons exercising their right of free speech.

In the news

Lawsuit accusing former DA Walter Reed, pastor of falsely imprisoning man gets new life

Jan 08, 2019

LSU Dental School students kicked out in cheating case win suit to reverse expulsions

Jul 16, 2018
Community Property Litigation
Over and above the emotional toll involved in divorce litigation, divorcing spouses have to divide their assets. Smith & Fawer’s expertise in corporate and commercial litigation has led it to be called in often to litigate forensic accounting and asset division in the community property context.
Examples of Practice

Obtaining a multi-million dollar judgment for the spouse of a local construction company owner where both the extent of its community nature and the amount of its value were disputed;

  • Representation of professionals, and their spouses, in seeking to obtain a fair distribution of assets;
  • Counseling a local marine company concerning the divorce of its two (2) owners;
  • Securing multi-million dollar settlement for a spouse seeking her community interest in three multi-million dollar companies;
  • Securing settlement of over $1m for spouse in a community property partition after three day hearing.
Complex Insurance Litigation
The firm’s expertise in complex civil litigation has led to its consultation by both insurers and insureds for representation in specialized disputes. The firm’s devotion to its clients’ interests have permitted it to obtain equally good results for both types of clients.
Examples of Practice

Typical matters handled by the firm in this area include:

  • Acting as regional counsel for a specialty lines insurance company writing policies in Louisiana;
  • Securing insurance coverage for businesses after initial denials by their respective insurers;
  • Prosecuting substantial claims by insureds for property and business income losses suffered as a result of catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina;
  • Representing Insurance Companies as Plaintiffs against other Insurers or attorneys for claims such as malicious prosecution, unfair trade practices, and impermissible restraint of trade;
  • Representing businesses in actions related to the bad faith of its insurers.

In the news

Smith & Fawer, lead counsel for Prime in both Utah and Florida, wins 5-year battle against Lloyd’s largest syndicate

Dec 01, 2021

Court of Appeal Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Hurricane Katrina Business-Interruption Award

Feb 10, 2015
Construction Defect Litigation
Not every construction project turns out as planned. Water intrudes. Mold grows. Foundations crack or sink. Remediation and repair become necessary. Complex issues regarding liability, damages, and insurance arise. Smith & Fawer attorneys have represented owners of both commercial and residential properties, as well as contractors, both as plaintiffs and defendants, regarding claims of defective construction.
Examples of Practice

  • Representation of a condominium developer defending against claims of multiple defects in construction;
  • Representation of an apartment complex developer seeking compensation from a contractor, subcontractors, and design professionals for catastrophic water intrusions;
  • Representation of a homeowner seeking compensation for cosmetic, mechanical, and structural defects in their new home; and
  • Representation of owners or lessees against contractors or lessors that caused or permitted water intrusions.
  • Representation of businesses and homeowners against the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans for damages arising from the SELA drainage canal project in Uptown New Orleans

In the news

Saints' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's house is sinking, lawsuit claims

Aug 16, 2015
Criminal Defense
Our firm defends those accused of white-collar crime, other federal charges, and defends those accused in state court. We have represented clients in all types of cases across the state of Louisiana and in federal court on a wide variety of charges and fact patterns. The combination of years of trial experience and the ability to work well with all parties involved in the criminal justice system have allowed our firm to develop a unique reputation of excellence amongst our colleagues and the communities where we practice. With an ex-Assistant United States Attorney recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the region as a senior partner, and another senior partner who has defended individuals accused of federal crimes and taught white collar crime throughout his career, Smith & Fawer has long been known as a white collar criminal defense boutique. The firm is often called upon to counsel individuals under federal investigation, to represent witnesses called before investigating authorities for questioning, and to either negotiate or try the case on behalf of the individuals charged with federal infractions.
Examples of Practice

  • Representation of numerous public officials, including a sitting Governor, a sitting Congressman, a sitting Federal Judge, a sitting State Senator, a sitting Mayor, and a former Deputy Mayor and City Councilwoman in various investigations and prosecutions;
  • Representation of numerous businessmen facing charges of securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, bribery, tax violations, money laundering, structuring financial transactions, harboring illegal aliens, conspiracy and racketeering (RICO) in various stages of federal cases, including grand jury testimony, plea negotiations, trial, and appeal;
  • Representation of individuals and corporations charged with money laundering, structuring financial transactions, harboring illegal aliens, and environmental crimes in various cases.
  • Multi-jurisdictional trial experience defending serious felony accusations

In the news

In First NBC case, Mississippi developer pleads guilty to lying to secure $123 million in loans

Aug 26, 2020

Timothy Yazbeck - Top Attorney New Orleans Magazine 2019

May 26, 2020
Crisis Management Services
Not all problems faced by corporations and individuals result immediately in litigation. Smith & Fawer attorneys are used to that “call in the middle of the night” from clients who have found themselves urgently under public scrutiny and who are facing imminent exposure from criminal investigations, civil lawsuits, and potential administrative enforcement actions. Individuals and corporations faced with attack from multiple flanks must coordinate their response so that activities in one forum will not prejudice the individual or corporation in another. With a deep understanding of civil and criminal law and procedure, as well as public relations and policy, Smith & Fawer provides just such a unified response to those of our clients facing “bet-the-company” crises.
Examples of Practice

Our attorneys mobilize in response to such calls by providing the following responses:

  • Pre-suit and pre-indictment investigation;
  • Management of media relations;
  • Negotiation with prosecutors and other government officials;
  • Representation in administrative proceedings before the Louisiana Ethics Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Universities and Schools and other administrative bodies;
  • Aggressive defense of civil litigation;
  • Aggressive defense of criminal litigation;
  • Strategic combination of civil, criminal, and administrative remedies

In the news

Attorneys for late Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson fight to keep mental competency case sealed

Jul 09, 2020

Tom Benson deposition shows mental decline, Rita LeBlanc's lawyer says

May 19, 2016
Eminent Domain & Takings
Randall A. Smith is the sole Louisiana member of the Owner’s Counsel of America, a national association of experienced property rights and eminent domain attorneys. For many years, Mr. Smith has been part of the national faculty at the ALI-ABA National Eminent Domain 3-day seminar. Together with Tiffany Davis, Mary Nell Bennett, and others in the firm, he has handled over 100 significant takings cases around the State of Louisiana for property owners against state and federal agencies, securing over $100 million for his clients. Smith & Fawer attorneys closely supervise the taking at issue to confirm that it is truly necessary for the public advancement. If so, and if nothing can be done to prevent the taking, the firm then zealously pursues the payment of just compensation for the taking of its clients’ property. By combining its extensive trial experience and substantive knowledge of eminent domain, the firm has been successful in taking on levee districts, political subdivisions of the state, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, port authorities, and Parish governments, among others.
Examples of Practice

 Cases representative of the firm’s practice in this area include:

  • Securing a $10.5+ million jury award for a landowner against the local Convention Center Authority (over 10x the amount offered);
  • Securing a $7+ million judgment for its clients against a levee board for the expropriation of property for levee improvements (over 100x the amount deposited);
  • Securing a $6+ million judgment for its clients against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (over 100x the amount deposited);
  • Obtaining $10+ million in judgments against the Board of Supervisors of LSU for multiple landowners in the University Medical Center hospital project (cumulatively, over 10x the amounts deposited);
  • Obtaining a $2 million judgment for a landowner against the Orleans Levee District (over 10x the amount offered); and
  • Obtaining over $1.5 million in judgments for a business against the government of Terrebonne Parish (over 7x the amount offered)


In the news

Lafayette to pay $11.5 million to settle quick-take land grab lawsuit

Mar 09, 2023

Court weighs benefits of massive Lafayette detention pond for ruling on land grab appeal

Oct 28, 2022
Entertainment Litigation
Litigation in the entertainment field can cover a lot of territory, from life story rights issues, production company contracts, to copyright infringement and/or trademark litigation. With New Orleans becoming a growing market for Film & TV and already a place where music is “center stage”, Smith & Fawer can assist artists and producers with their many issues.
Examples of Practice
  • Representation of artists (writers/composers) who contend that their work was misappropriated (Copyright Infringement or Desny claim);
  • Representation of individuals or companies who allege Trademark/Lanham Act violations;
  • Prosecuting cases on behalf of individuals or companies who allege "Unfair Competition."
Government Relations
Not all problems can, or should, be solved in court. Some issues can be resolved by the passage of legislation, the persuasion of policymakers, or the appeal of administrative decisions. Some issues must be fought out in the arena of public discourse. The attorneys at Smith & Fawer have experience before multiple public bodies and in advising clients through the political process.
Examples of Practice

Examples of such services provided by the firm include:

  • Drafting of, and assisting in the passage of, legislation on multiple topics that has passed legislatures across the United States, including providing testimony before legislative committees in multiple states;
  • Appearing before local governing bodies, including city councils, police juries, and zoning bodies, as well as state entities, including the Public Service Commission;
  • Representing clients before bodies that govern professionals, including doctors before the Louisiana Board of State Medical Examiners;
  • Appealing administrative decisions by state agencies;
  • Representing and advising clients regarding claims of libel involving public issues, including litigating the Louisiana Anti-SLAPP statute;
  • Advising clients on campaign finance, including: advising a sitting Congressman as to campaign qualification and campaign finance issues; representing clients before the Louisiana Ethics Board; and advising clients regarding the formation and governance of non-profit entities that address public policy, including PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations;
  • Representing a candidate for office in legal challenge to candidacy and suit by opponent to enjoin television commercials

In the news

Baton Rouge judge to rule on state's big cat ban as Grosse Tete truck stop pushes for new tiger

Apr 18, 2018

Louis Congemi stays in Jefferson Parish Council race

Sep 20, 2015
Intellectual Property Litigation
Not all property is tangible. Often the most important property is the uniqueness of an invention or idea and the right to patent, copyright, or trademark that invention or idea. Smith & Fawer attorneys are called upon to represent corporations and individuals who have rights to intellectual property and must defend those rights against infringement.
Examples of Practice
  • Successful representations of a worldwide distributor of tobacco products in claims for patent and trademark infringement;
  • Successful representation of a nationwide marketer of self-improvement video products in a suit claiming infringement of trademarks and improper use of a similar Internet domain name (cybersquatting);
  •  Multiple prosecutions of patent infringement actions for inventors;
  • Successful representation of international maritime group in protecting its proprietary vessel design property;
  • Successful representation of healthcare company in arbitration arising out of infringement of its intellectual property by former licensee; and
  • Consultation on distribution and licensing agreements.
Maritime Litigation
The economy of the Gulf Coast is fueled by the offshore drilling and maritime activities that are so essential to the Coast’s survival. Unfortunately, those actors whose businesses and livelihoods animate that commerce are often harmed, whether in a physical or an economic manner.
Examples of Practice

Smith & Fawer attorneys are attuned to the particular challenges maritime litigation presents and have litigated cases involving the following:

  • Successful representation of a local bulk liquid terminal facility in a complex environmental suit;
  • Successful representation of Jones Act claimants for severe personal injuries suffered on the job;
  • Successful representation of corporations and insurers in blow-out litigation;
  • Multi-million dollar recovery for a local offshore vessel company in vessel construction dispute;
  • Obtaining a directed verdict/involuntary dismissal for offshore supply boat company with respect to a multi-million dollar claim by naval architect for royalties related to a vessel design.
Professional Liability Litigation
People trust those individuals that hold themselves out as experts in their field and expect them to act according to the ethical rules of their professions. This trust is often unrequited. Whether a physician has committed a lapse of professional judgment, a lawyer has caused substantial harm to your company’s value by acting in a wrongful manner, or an accountant has failed to properly carry out its fiduciary duty to its client, Smith & Fawer attorneys understand the nature of your problem and have the solutions for it.
Examples of Practice

The firm has represented individuals and companies in the following types of professional liability litigation:

  • Pursuing third-party tort actions against attorneys on behalf of companies wronged by their conduct;
  • Representing a mentally-challenged girl and her parents for failure by a hospital to diagnose the girl’s condition when brought to the emergency room, causing the girl to contract pneumonia and require substantial care for the remainder of her life;
  • Prosecution of accountant liability cases for failure to review and report properly on material transactions;
  • Representing investor against accountant for hedge-fund for failure to independently review financial statements.
Property and Environmental Litigation
Both ancillary to and independent of its Eminent Domain Group, Smith & Fawer attorneys have developed a unique sensitivity to its clients’ rights in the immovable property they own. Whether involving disputes over land use and contaminated property issues, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Equality, contracts concerning immovable property, seeking damages for destruction of property, or establishing our clients’ interests in property, the firm works hard to protect the interests of its clients.
Examples of Practice

  • Representation of landowners against a local electrical cooperative for destruction of their property incident to its exercise of a servitude on their property;
  • Representation of a local family seeking millions in damages against an oil company for pollution of their property incident to refining operations of the company;
  • Representation of landowners in boundary and property ownership disputes; and
  • Representation of landowners against engineering firm who improperly surveyed major subdivision.

In the news

Louisiana Court of Appeals holds that the City of Mandeville is responsible for damage caused to homeowner's property.

May 03, 2022

OCA Member’s Win Highlights Growing Concerns Over Damage Caused by Flooding & Water Events - Confirmed on Appeal

May 03, 2022
Securities Litigation
In theory, companies are supposed to tell the truth to their investors. When they do not, or when the SEC or other regulatory bodies believe they do not, then civil litigation and administrative or criminal inquiry can ensue. Smith & Fawer has substantial experience on both sides of securities litigation, both prosecuting the claims of investors and defending companies and their officers in SEC inquiries.
Examples of Practice

  • Prosecution of a Section 16B “short swing” claim on behalf of a publicly-traded corporation against its largest investor;
  • Defense of the CEO and Director of a publicly-traded company against an SEC inquiry into certain trading activities;
  • Successful defense of a publicly-traded company in a suit for improper redemption of shares brought by its largest investor;
  • Representation of multi-million dollar investor against a hedge-fund and its accountant for fraudulently inducing him into investing.

In the news

Shareholders Sue Whitney Bank

Feb 09, 2011

Lawsuit against Schwab settled brokerage firm will spend $20 million

Jul 25, 2000
Trust, Succession and Interdiction Litigation
When a loved one loses the capacity to make reasoned decisions or passes away, disputes can arise into a maelstrom of complicated litigation. Smith & Fawer attorneys understand the emotions surrounding this type of litigation and work hard to ensure the the loved one can be protected while in a weakened condition, and should the loved one pass away, their clients obtain the share of the their loved one’s estate to which they are entitled.
Examples of Practice

The firm has handled numerous suits in this area, including:

  • Representing an heir to a large estate in a dispute with her brother over the division of their parents’ estate;
  • Representing the heir to a real estate development and management company in a trust dispute arising out of the sale of the apartment complexes comprising the largest assets of the company;
  • Representing a daughter in litigation against her stepfather’s estate over the stepfather’s fatal shooting of the daughter’s mother;
  • Representing a successor trustee in an action to remove the original trustee who was in the middle of a contested divorce with the trust beneficiary’s daughter;
  • Representing former co-executors in dispute over handling of large succession;
  • Representing a trustee in succession regarding ownership of assets held in a related trust;
  • Representing family members in an attempt to protect a billionaire through interdiction;
  • Representing elderly clients who became subject to an interdiction attempt by disgruntled family members.
  • Representing numerous clients in actions to protect elderly loved-ones from undue influence;
  • Obtained a seven figure trust interest for a related trust, after successfully arguing that prescription had not run on a disavowal action and trustee had standing to bring a disavowal action despite not being a parent.

In the news

Bitter Ray Brandt succession battle finally settles; here's who will control massive estate

Mar 22, 2023

Ray Brandt's widow will lose control of auto sales empire under judge's order

Oct 07, 2022