Kelsi Stayart White

Partner

Kelsi Stayart White

Partner

  • P: 713-600-4983
  • F: 713-655-0062
  • kwhite@azalaw.com
  • vCard

Kelsi Stayart White focuses on dispositive motions and appeals in state and federal court in all areas of commercial litigation. Before her focus on appellate work, Kelsi first gained substantial trial experience, including trying multiple commercial cases to juries and the bench in both state and federal court, handling an international arbitration, and seeking and defending temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions. Because of that experience, she brings a trial lawyer’s practical perspective and communication skills to high-stakes motions, appellate briefs, and oral arguments. As a large part of her practice, Kelsi supports AZA’s trial teams in presenting critical legal issues to judges and handling the jury charge and other appellate issues at trial, including in AZA’s $22 million federal jury trial win on behalf of the Port of Houston Authority in March 2022 and its $32.5 million jury verdict in a complex, multi-party construction dispute in September 2023.

Kelsi has handled appeals of all types in both state court and the Fifth Circuit, including interlocutory appeals, mandamus proceedings, and direct appeals, and has significant oral argument experience before the Texas Courts of Appeals and the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some of her noteworthy wins include obtaining a precedent-setting reversal of a female firefighter client’s hostile work environment claim in the Fifth Circuit in 2022; defending the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion and frivolousness finding all the way up to the Texas Supreme Court, resulting in a six-figure fee award on remand; and securing reversal of a federal agency’s FOIA decision concerning a client’s confidential information.

Kelsi was named to the 2021 and 2022 lists of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for commercial litigation. This is a national peer review award developed by Best Lawyers in America to target associates for their outstanding professional excellence early in their careers. She was also named on the 2022 Texas Rising Stars list for her excellence in plaintiff civil litigation. Rising Stars, which is compiled by Thomson Reuters’ Texas Super Lawyers, honors leading attorneys age 40 and younger and those who have been in practice no more than 10 years.

Kelsi is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. She served as a law clerk for Judge Leslie H. Southwick, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. During law school she served as associate editor of the Texas Law Review, and interned for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Tony M. Davis in Austin.  She graduated with highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Texas at Austin. Kelsi is a Council Member for the Federal Practice Section of the HBA and is also actively involved in the Appellate Practice Section. She attends St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and is the proud mother of three children.

Kelsi Stayart White focuses on dispositive motions and appeals in state and federal court in all areas of commercial litigation. Before her focus on appellate work, Kelsi first gained substantial trial experience, including trying multiple commercial cases to juries and the bench in both state and federal court, handling an international arbitration, and seeking and defending temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions. Because of that experience, she brings a trial lawyer’s practical perspective and communication skills to high-stakes motions, appellate briefs, and oral arguments. As a large part of her practice, Kelsi supports AZA’s trial teams in presenting critical legal issues to judges and handling the jury charge and other appellate issues at trial, including in AZA’s $22 million federal jury trial win on behalf of the Port of Houston Authority in March 2022 and its $32.5 million jury verdict in a complex, multi-party construction dispute in September 2023.

Kelsi has handled appeals of all types in both state court and the Fifth Circuit, including interlocutory appeals, mandamus proceedings, and direct appeals, and has significant oral argument experience before the Texas Courts of Appeals and the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some of her noteworthy wins include obtaining a precedent-setting reversal of a female firefighter client’s hostile work environment claim in the Fifth Circuit in 2022; defending the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion and frivolousness finding all the way up to the Texas Supreme Court, resulting in a six-figure fee award on remand; and securing reversal of a federal agency’s FOIA decision concerning a client’s confidential information.

Kelsi was named to the 2021 and 2022 lists of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for commercial litigation. This is a national peer review award developed by Best Lawyers in America to target associates for their outstanding professional excellence early in their careers. She was also named on the 2022 Texas Rising Stars list for her excellence in plaintiff civil litigation. Rising Stars, which is compiled by Thomson Reuters’ Texas Super Lawyers, honors leading attorneys age 40 and younger and those who have been in practice no more than 10 years.

Kelsi is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. She served as a law clerk for Judge Leslie H. Southwick, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. During law school she served as associate editor of the Texas Law Review, and interned for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Tony M. Davis in Austin.  She graduated with highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Texas at Austin. Kelsi is a Council Member for the Federal Practice Section of the HBA and is also actively involved in the Appellate Practice Section. She attends St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and is the proud mother of three children.

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

  •  Twice defended summary-judgment wins in the Fifth Circuit in 2023 in appeals involving FLSA and employment issues. Hebert v. TechnipFMC, No. 22-20562; Kozlowski, et al. v. Buck, et al., No. 22-40438 (oral argument).
  • Obtained complete defense victory in a bench trial of novel wrongful termination claims against Port of Houston in 2023, serving as first chair. Kozlowski, et al. v. Buck, et al., Harris County Case No. 2021-13211
  • Secured dismissal on standing grounds for Port of Houston in a challenge to the bid process for the Port’s $430M expansion project. Read more about the March 2023 win here: https://www.law360.com/articles/1582952/judge-backs-clearing-430m-deal-of-made-in-us-claims
  • Successfully defended on appeal the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion filed on the eve of trial and obtained affirmance of sanctions award against the movant, including defeating review at the Texas Supreme Court. Patriot Contracting, LLC v. Mid-Main Properties, LP, No. 14-20-00724-CV, 2022 WL 1251236 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Apr. 28, 2022, pet. denied). Read more about the win here: https://azalaw.com/aza-beats-frivolous-anti-slapp-appeal-in-construction-case/
  • Obtained affirmance of the denial of a special appearance in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. Marquette Transportation Company, LLC, et al. v. Simon, No. 14-21-00729-CV (Dec. 13, 2022).
  • Secured the reversal of a district court order that had affirmed federal agency’s FOIA determination that information about client’s accounting methodology was subject to disclosure under FOIA. Ryan LLC v. Dep’t of the Interior, No. 22-10373 (Nov. 28, 2022).
  • Secured reversal of summary-judgment order on Title VII hostile work environment claim before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in published decision, Abbt v. City of Houston, 28 F.4th 601 (2022).
  • Caused a wrongful death lawsuit against AZA client to be completely abandoned by plaintiff after seeing our summary judgment motion. Rather than respond, the plaintiff simply dropped the lawsuit.
  • Obtained significant final arbitration award for a commodities trading company in a commercial supply contract dispute in 2020. In January 2020, Kelsi won an emergency arbitration order requiring the counterparty to continue performing the contract. Kelsi and her AZA colleague Nathan Campbell handled case development, discovery, the final evidentiary hearing, and post-hearing briefing.
  • Secured a six-figure award of attorneys’ fees in a bench trial in Texas state court in February 2019.
  • Defended popular Houston restaurant Turkey Leg Hut in a nuisance lawsuit in 2019. Just days after being hired, Kelsi and the AZA team won a modification to a previously entered temporary restraining order, which lifted burdensome restrictions on the restaurant’s operations. Two weeks later, the plaintiffs dismissed the lawsuit.
  • Served as second-chair in a federal jury trial for a plaintiff secured creditor in a UCC dispute in 2018.

EDUCATION

  • University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with highest honors, May 2015
    • Chancellors Society
    • Order of the Coif
    • Associate Editor – Texas Law Review
    • Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition
    • American Bankruptcy Institute Medal of Excellence Awards
    • Dean’s Achievement Awards – Outstanding Student in Constitutional Law I
  • University of Texas at Austin, B.A., with highest honors, December 2011
    • Phi Beta Kappa

BAR ADMISSIONS

  • State Bar of Texas
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

HONORS AND AWARDS

  • Elected to Texas Bar Foundation in 2024
  • Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, 2021-2024
  • Texas Rising Stars, 2022
  • Lawdragon 500 X – The Next Generation, 2024

PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

  • Author of the Fifth Circuit Update for the HBA’s Appellate Lawyer Newsletter
  • Moderator/Organizer, Show Down at the Show Cause Corral: Navigating a Civil Contempt Hearing and Avoiding an Ambush, HBA Federal Practice Section (Feb. 16, 2022)
  • Litigating Non-Competes on Both Sides of the “V”, Texas State Bar, Business Disputes (Sept. 2022)
  • Error Resuscitation and Resurrection, UT School of Law, 32nd Annual Conference on State and Federal Appeals (June 2022)
  • Experts & Disqualifications, 43rd Annual University of Texas Page Keeton Conference, presented with U.S. District Judge Jeff Brown, Nov. 22, 2019
  • Non-Compete Agreements: Leveling Up Trial Techniques and Litigation Strategies, webinar, Knowledge Group CLE , Nov. 20, 2019
  • SLAPP Your Opponents: What Employment Lawyers Need to Know about the Anti-SLAPP Law, State Bar of Texas Webcast, Oct. 2, 2018
  • Witness Credibility in Trials and Depositions, In-House Summit in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 20, 2018
  • How to Try a Trade Secret Case in a Post-M.I. Swaco World, before the Houston Bar Association Litigation Section, Sept. 5, 2018
  • Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher &  Kelsi Stayart White, Litigating Non-Compete and Trade Secret Cases, white paper for American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law, 11th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 2017, Washington, D.C.
  • Jay Lawrence Westbrook & Kelsi Stayart White, The Demystification of Contracts in Bankruptcy, 91 American Bankruptcy Law Journal  481, Issue 3 (Summer 2017)

IN THE NEWS

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS
  •  Twice defended summary-judgment wins in the Fifth Circuit in 2023 in appeals involving FLSA and employment issues. Hebert v. TechnipFMC, No. 22-20562; Kozlowski, et al. v. Buck, et al., No. 22-40438 (oral argument).
  • Obtained complete defense victory in a bench trial of novel wrongful termination claims against Port of Houston in 2023, serving as first chair. Kozlowski, et al. v. Buck, et al., Harris County Case No. 2021-13211
  • Secured dismissal on standing grounds for Port of Houston in a challenge to the bid process for the Port’s $430M expansion project. Read more about the March 2023 win here: https://www.law360.com/articles/1582952/judge-backs-clearing-430m-deal-of-made-in-us-claims
  • Successfully defended on appeal the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion filed on the eve of trial and obtained affirmance of sanctions award against the movant, including defeating review at the Texas Supreme Court. Patriot Contracting, LLC v. Mid-Main Properties, LP, No. 14-20-00724-CV, 2022 WL 1251236 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Apr. 28, 2022, pet. denied). Read more about the win here: https://azalaw.com/aza-beats-frivolous-anti-slapp-appeal-in-construction-case/
  • Obtained affirmance of the denial of a special appearance in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. Marquette Transportation Company, LLC, et al. v. Simon, No. 14-21-00729-CV (Dec. 13, 2022).
  • Secured the reversal of a district court order that had affirmed federal agency’s FOIA determination that information about client’s accounting methodology was subject to disclosure under FOIA. Ryan LLC v. Dep’t of the Interior, No. 22-10373 (Nov. 28, 2022).
  • Secured reversal of summary-judgment order on Title VII hostile work environment claim before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in published decision, Abbt v. City of Houston, 28 F.4th 601 (2022).
  • Caused a wrongful death lawsuit against AZA client to be completely abandoned by plaintiff after seeing our summary judgment motion. Rather than respond, the plaintiff simply dropped the lawsuit.
  • Obtained significant final arbitration award for a commodities trading company in a commercial supply contract dispute in 2020. In January 2020, Kelsi won an emergency arbitration order requiring the counterparty to continue performing the contract. Kelsi and her AZA colleague Nathan Campbell handled case development, discovery, the final evidentiary hearing, and post-hearing briefing.
  • Secured a six-figure award of attorneys’ fees in a bench trial in Texas state court in February 2019.
  • Defended popular Houston restaurant Turkey Leg Hut in a nuisance lawsuit in 2019. Just days after being hired, Kelsi and the AZA team won a modification to a previously entered temporary restraining order, which lifted burdensome restrictions on the restaurant’s operations. Two weeks later, the plaintiffs dismissed the lawsuit.
  • Served as second-chair in a federal jury trial for a plaintiff secured creditor in a UCC dispute in 2018.
EDUCATION
  • University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with highest honors, May 2015
    • Chancellors Society
    • Order of the Coif
    • Associate Editor – Texas Law Review
    • Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition
    • American Bankruptcy Institute Medal of Excellence Awards
    • Dean’s Achievement Awards – Outstanding Student in Constitutional Law I
  • University of Texas at Austin, B.A., with highest honors, December 2011
    • Phi Beta Kappa
BAR ADMISSIONS
  • State Bar of Texas
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
HONORS AND AWARDS
  • Elected to Texas Bar Foundation in 2024
  • Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, 2021-2024
  • Texas Rising Stars, 2022
  • Lawdragon 500 X – The Next Generation, 2024
PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
  • Author of the Fifth Circuit Update for the HBA’s Appellate Lawyer Newsletter
  • Moderator/Organizer, Show Down at the Show Cause Corral: Navigating a Civil Contempt Hearing and Avoiding an Ambush, HBA Federal Practice Section (Feb. 16, 2022)
  • Litigating Non-Competes on Both Sides of the “V”, Texas State Bar, Business Disputes (Sept. 2022)
  • Error Resuscitation and Resurrection, UT School of Law, 32nd Annual Conference on State and Federal Appeals (June 2022)
  • Experts & Disqualifications, 43rd Annual University of Texas Page Keeton Conference, presented with U.S. District Judge Jeff Brown, Nov. 22, 2019
  • Non-Compete Agreements: Leveling Up Trial Techniques and Litigation Strategies, webinar, Knowledge Group CLE , Nov. 20, 2019
  • SLAPP Your Opponents: What Employment Lawyers Need to Know about the Anti-SLAPP Law, State Bar of Texas Webcast, Oct. 2, 2018
  • Witness Credibility in Trials and Depositions, In-House Summit in Dallas, Texas on Sept. 20, 2018
  • How to Try a Trade Secret Case in a Post-M.I. Swaco World, before the Houston Bar Association Litigation Section, Sept. 5, 2018
  • Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher &  Kelsi Stayart White, Litigating Non-Compete and Trade Secret Cases, white paper for American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law, 11th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 2017, Washington, D.C.
  • Jay Lawrence Westbrook & Kelsi Stayart White, The Demystification of Contracts in Bankruptcy, 91 American Bankruptcy Law Journal  481, Issue 3 (Summer 2017)
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