Todd W. Mensing focuses on complex commercial litigation. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, a distinction reserved for Texas trial lawyers with a high degree of trial experience and expertise. During the last ten years, an average of fewer than ten attorneys per year statewide has earned the distinction.
He is recognized among the top lawyers in the nation for commercial litigation and construction litigation in The Best Lawyers in America. Todd is also recognized in the area of Texas General Commercial Litigation in the 2014-2016 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business published by London-based Chambers and Partners. He earned the highest possible AV Preeminent rating based upon peer reviews from Martindale Hubbell. He has also been elected to the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an elite group of the country’s leading trial lawyers.
Todd has tried cases in virtually every arena, including in the areas of complex commercial litigation; intellectual property and trade secret disputes; executive employment claims; catastrophic personal injury cases; as well as white collar criminal defense matters.
Todd has been named one of the top 100 lawyers in Texas and Houston on the annual Texas Super Lawyers. He was put on the Super Lawyers list in only his fifth year of practice and was one of the youngest attorneys in Texas to be named to the list.
Prior to joining Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., Todd graduated with honors and in the top ten percent of his class at the University of Texas School of Law. He obtained his undergraduate degree with honors from Stanford University.
Here are some recent examples of results Todd achieved for his clients:
Commercial and Intellectual Property Litigation
- Obtained a defense verdict for a Houston petrochemical inspection company in a $10 million trademark infringement suit. After the parties rested, the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s trademark infringement claim against the client. The jury then deliberated on the client’s counterclaim to invalidate the plaintiff’s trademark. The jury awarded a verdict in the client’s favor and invalidated the trademark after one hour of deliberations.
- Successfully defended at trial two manufacturing executives in a $50 million theft of trade secrets action. Five days before jury selection, Todd stepped in as lead counsel. The plaintiff accused the clients of breaching fiduciary duties by forming a new company with a competitor, and also of funneling trade secrets to that competitor. The plaintiff claimed over $50 million in damages. At the end of the month-long trial, the jury issued no-liability findings in favor of the executives but the trial court nevertheless entered judgment against them finding them jointly and severally liable with several other defendants. On appeal, Todd obtained a complete reversal of the judgment, and the appellate court rendered a take-nothing judgment against the plaintiff.
- Won a jury verdict for a Houston-based industrial gas company in a multimillion fraud and breach of contract case. Todd’s cross-examination of opponent’s main expert ended with the witness admitting he was not, in fact, an expert. The jury rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims against the client, and also awarded the client millions of dollars on its counterclaim, representing the client’s full damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.
- Defended against a $100 million breach of contract lawsuit related to the joint operation of an offshore pipeline system. A national upstream energy company brought the case against the client, itself a prominent midstream company. The plaintiff previously had prevailed on several key issues in a related FERC action, and the plaintiff sought to enforce these findings against the client in the lawsuit. Todd took over the matter from prior counsel. Despite the adverse FERC rulings, the client eventually received a walk-away settlement.
- Prosecuted a mineral lease dispute in South Texas for a publicly-traded exploration company. The landowner alleged that the client’s lease had terminated, barred the client from drilling wells, and brought tort and contract claims against the client. In response, Todd filed claims against the landowner and a competitor for conspiring to block the drilling, while simultaneously draining the reservoir through nearby wells. Two weeks prior to trial, the landowner and competitor dropped their multi-million dollar claims against the client. The competitor also paid the client several million dollars, which represented all of the client’s damages.
- Obtained a $25 million settlement for a Houston-based upstream natural gas company in a breach of contract and fraud lawsuit with a joint venture partner. The client alleged that its partner had overcharged and undercompensated the client through a complex web of related-party transactions.
- Successfully defended a national auto parts supplier in a trade secret dispute in which the plaintiff sought over $10 million. After successfully asserting theories against several co-defendants as well as the plaintiff, the client settled the case for less than two percent of the plaintiff’s demand.
- Obtained summary judgment for a national aftermarket auto parts manufacturer. The plaintiff alleged the client had participated in a fraud and kickback scheme that had resulted in millions of dollars in losses to the plaintiff. The Court dismissed the lawsuit against the client in its entirety.
- Represented a multinational mid-stream energy company in a $30 million indemnity dispute relating to legacy environmental contamination in Louisiana. The client received a walk-away settlement.
- Led a team of law firms representing a client investment company responding to a wide-ranging SEC investigation. At the conclusion of a nearly year-long inquiry, the SEC terminated the investigation without bringing an enforcement action against the client on any claim.
- Successfully defended an international energy services provider in $50MM arbitration alleging breach of purchase agreements for several foreign companies. Todd took over the case from prior counsel, which had lost key summary judgment rulings on $25MM in claims prior to Todd being hired. Todd developed new defenses which mooted the prior rulings. The case settled favorably a week before the final hearing.
- Successfully represented a minority shareholder and officer of a multibillion dollar closely-held corporation in a breach of fiduciary dispute with the company and the majority shareholder. Todd took over the case from different counsel. At the time Todd took over the case, the majority shareholder and company sought tens of millions of dollars from the client. Todd asserted new counterclaims against the majority shareholder and the corporation. After discovery, the case settled, with the majority shareholder paying the client a settlement worth roughly twenty million dollars, and the client paying nothing.
- Currently defending a fracking company against allegations it infringed on logistical and transportation technology patents.
- Currently representing a drilling company in a trade secret lawsuit in which the client alleges the competitor defendant stole revolutionary drilling technology.
Environmental and Toxic Tort
- Defended an international pipeline company in a $100 million environmental suit brought by the State of New Jersey against the client and several other midstream energy companies. After several years of litigation, the State released the client for less than one percent of its original demand.
- Defended a gas storage company in a $50 million environmental mass action in Montana federal court. The plaintiffs, residents of a Montana city, accused the client, along with a handful of other defendants, of polluting of the city’s water supply over a period of years. At the conclusion of discovery, the parties settled, with the client contributing less than two percent of the total settlement payment and the client having no ongoing remediation obligation.
- Obtained a dismissal on summary judgment of a $10 million qui tam action brought by the former employee of an offshore platform operator. The employee alleged that the client had committed violations of several state and federal anti-pollution laws through numerous unreported and unlawful releases into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of several years.
- Represented Harris County in a lawsuit against foreign downstream energy companies that resulted not only in historic fines against those companies, but also a series of groundbreaking concessions requiring that Harris County receive notice of pollution events.
- Currently representing an international fuel terminal company in multidistrict litigation in which the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alleges widespread MTBE contamination of its waters.
Construction and Real Estate
- Currently representing an international terminal and distribution company in an eight-figure dispute related to the construction of a subsea pipeline in the Caribbean.
- Won a defense verdict against an international bank barring it from foreclosing on a multimillion dollar property. Todd took over the case from prior counsel before trial. In securing the verdict, Todd convinced the jury that the bank had waived its claimed prerogative to seize the property and enforce its lien.
- Drafted and advised on nine-figure construction contracts for an international energy company for construction of refinery facilities in Texas and Louisiana.
- Currently representing a midstream company in eight-figure suit alleging faulty construction of South Texas gas processing plant.
- Defended a national pipeline company where the plaintiff contractor alleged the client owed it more than $20 million for construction work. After pursuing a counterclaim alleging the contractor had engaged in systematic fraudulent billing, the client settled the case for less than two percent of the plaintiff’s demand.
- Obtained a defense verdict for the owners of the Lancaster Hotel located in downtown Houston in a commercial real estate dispute. At the conclusion of the two-week trial, the jury deliberated for only two hours before unanimously rejecting each of the plaintiff’s claims. The jury also found against the plaintiff on counterclaims for statutory theft and conversion, and awarded punitive damages.
- Obtained a dismissal of a bet-the-company real estate lawsuit that included issues of first impression. Todd defended a national real estate firm in a matter closely monitored by lawyers, trade groups, and legislators across Texas. The case involved the application of a new series of legislative reforms that had not yet been interpreted by any court, and held significant implications for the industry. The Court issued a take-nothing judgment in favor of the client and construed the law in the client’s favor.
- Represented a multistate Houston real estate developer in a breach of contract suit in which the plaintiffs sought $30 million. Todd replaced prior counsel and immediately pursued several counterclaims against the plaintiffs. At the end of discovery, the case settled for less than three percent of the plaintiff’s original demand.
- Defended a prominent government body against a plaintiff contractor in a suit alleging the governmental body committed numerous violations in the award of a multimillion dollar construction contract. Todd took over the case from prior counsel. The contractor sought millions of dollars at the time. Todd developed an aggressive defense strategy that not only sought dismissal of the case on the pleadings, but also sanctions against the contractor. Within weeks the contractor accepted a settlement offer from before Todd took over, which represented one percent of the contractor’s alleged damages.
Catastrophic Personal Injury Defense and OSHA
- Currently representing numerous Fortune 500 companies in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury matters across the United States.
- Represented an international specialty gas company before OSHA, and in wrongful death and catastrophic burn injury cases, arising out of a plant explosion. After a six-month investigation, OSHA did not issue the client a single citation. Todd then compelled the catastrophic personal injury cases to arbitration. Shortly thereafter, the cases settled on confidential terms.
- Achieved a defense verdict for a Houston medical group in a malpractice trial in which the parents of the child patient alleged that negligent care resulted in severe and long-term injuries.
- Obtained a defense verdict for a drug provider alleged to have caused long-term injuries by virtue of providing the incorrect drug to the plaintiff during her medical care.
- Handled a wrongful death case brought by the family of a worker against a Houston-based industrial remediation company. Todd replaced prior counsel. Within two months, and after Todd successfully established that the plaintiffs’ claims were pre-empted, the plaintiffs non-suited their case.
Executive Employment, Class Actions, and Non-Compete
- Defeated a wage and hour class action on summary judgment. Todd took over the case from prior counsel after the court certified the class, which covered all statewide employees for several years. Todd convinced the court that the class could not prove a statutory violation occurred as a matter of law, and could not prove the necessary level of injury as well.
- Defended a prominent Texas-based medical group against False Claim Act allegations of Medicaid overbilling. Todd took over the case from prior counsel. The case settled for less than five percent of the Plaintiff’s demand.
- Currently defending several wage and hour class actions on behalf of national and multinational companies in venues across the country.
- Won a bench trial for an oilfield services company and its executive in a non-compete and trade secret action brought by a rival. The rival company alleged the executive would deploy trade secrets in his new role for the client and sought an injunction barring the executive from working anywhere in the Middle East. Todd argued the non-compete was overbroad, and that the “trade secrets” were not confidential, but were generic and stale. The Court agreed, and invalidated the non-compete. After a later bench trial, the Court also denied the injunction request on the grounds that the “trade secrets” were not in fact confidential, but were publicly available and outdated.
- Defended an energy company in an overtime class action where two individual plaintiffs asserted class-wide claims allegedly totaling tens of millions of dollars. Todd fought class certification, and the plaintiffs eventually abandoned their effort to certify a class. The cases then settled for less than one tenth of one percent of the alleged class-wide damages.
- Obtained a defense verdict for the Chief Financial Officer of a publicly-traded company. The CFO’s former employer sued the client for breach of fiduciary duty and sought punitive damages, claiming the CFO had participated in an embezzlement scheme, engaged in self-dealing, and conspired to bring litigation against the company while still an officer.
- Achieved a plaintiff’s verdict for an executive of a seismic equipment manufacturer who claimed age discrimination. The jury returned a verdict that the employer discriminated against the former executive when it terminated him, and did so willfully, resulting in the second-largest employment verdict in Texas that year.
- Represented the departing senior executive team of a Fortune 500 oilfield equipment company in severance litigation against the acquiring company. The former executives alleged change-in-control provisions in their employment agreements triggered payments in excess of $25 million. The cases settled on confidential terms.
- Spearheaded an internal company-wide investigation for an international energy company relating to allegations of senior executive misconduct.
Other Recent Verdicts
- Successfully represented at trial a Texas man being prosecuted for capital murder. Prior to this trial, the district attorney’s office had a 75-0 record in capital murder trials over the last ten years. After a week-long trial, the Court declared a mistrial based on the jury being deadlocked after two days of deliberations. At the time of the mistrial, the jurors (including the alternate) were split 8-5 in favor of a not guilty verdict. Following the trial, the State dropped all charges against the client and released him from custody.
- Achieved a defamation verdict against a Houston newspaper that included $1 million in punitive damages. The verdict represents one of the largest defamation verdicts against a newspaper in Texas history.
- Obtained acquittal at trial of a Houston university professor prosecuted for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student. After deliberating for less than two hours, the all-female jury returned a not-guilty verdict.
- Achieved acquittal at trial of an employee of a Fortune 100 company prosecuted for engaging in an embezzlement scheme. The client had given three separate confessions to investigating authorities. Todd established the confessions were coerced and false. The jury returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for less than two hours.
- Successfully represented the mother of a minor child in a two-week child custody jury trial. The Court-appointed attorney representing the minor child, as well as the father of the child, sought to divest the client of custody rights. The client nevertheless prevailed on all issues. Todd stepped into the case ten days before trial.
- Achieved a not guilty verdict for a Texas man falsely accused of continuous abuse of a family member over several years. The client faced a sentence of 25 years to life if found guilty. Todd established the allegations were fabricated and the result of the client’s ex-spouse alienating the family member from the client to achieve leverage in a custody battle. After a week-long trial, the jury returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for less than half a day.
Todd was born in Modesto, California. In 1994, he earned a B.A. in English, with Honors, from Stanford University. In 1999, he graduated from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was a four-time recipient of the Dean’s Achievement Award. After graduating from law school, Todd began his career in the litigation section of Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P. In March of 2001, he joined Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C.
IN THE NEWS
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Two AZA Lawyers Named to Who’s Who in Energy
- Stanford University (A.B., with Honors, 1994)
- University of Texas School of Law (J.D., with Honors, Order of the Coif, 1999)