Second-Year AZA Lawyers Win Complex Federal Lending Jury Verdict
November 2, 2017
HOUSTON – In a jury verdict that will mean recovery of $1 million for its insurance company clients, two 2015 University of Texas School of Law graduates prevailed in a complex and relatively uncommon Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) secured credit dispute involving insurance company claims over structured-settlement payments, secured lending investments, and competing judgments.
Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA, associates Cameron Byrd and Kelsi Stayart White sat first and second chair on behalf of clients FinServ Casualty Corp and A.M.Y. Property & Casualty Insurance Corp. Not only was it a rare UCC code section being invoked, but it was also very unusual for lawyers licensed just two years to control and win a federal jury trial this complex.
Jurors agreed that AZA’s clients had rights to defendant Symetra Life Insurance Company debts as secured creditors and were entitled to payment by Symetra. The award included key findings that FinServ and A.M.Y. were not alter egos of the company that had assigned the debt and that there was no fraud in the assignment. While the debt in question amounted to approximately $85,000, the verdict affects a total $1 million under the same rules.
“All young attorneys who strive to be trial lawyers want to get in the driver’s seat. This was a unique opportunity to learn from an exceptional trial judge,” first chair Mr. Byrd said of the five-day trial in the court of U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
Ms. White and Mr. Byrd each said they came to AZA in part because of the firm’s reputation for hiring talented young lawyers and quickly placing them in significant litigation roles. The two worked on this case for several months before trial, helping to develop new theories of law that saved their clients from having the case dismissed on summary judgment.
“Although they are young lawyers, they both have already been in court repeatedly, and it was terrific to watch them handle a federal jury so capably,” said firm managing partner John Zavitsanos. “Our firm is about going to trial and we attract talented lawyers with the promise that they will be handling important work from the get-go.”
Both Ms. White and Mr. Byrd said they were better prepared to handle this case so early in their careers after studying secured credit under renowned University of Texas School of Law professor Jay Westbrook.
The case is RSL-3B-IL, Ltd. v. Symetra Life Insurance Company et al., Case No. 4:12-cv-02708 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property, and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized by Chambers USA 2017 among the best in Texas commercial law; by U.S. News – Best Law Firms as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms for 2018; and previously by Law360 as a Texas Powerhouse law firm. National corporate counsel named AZA one of the country’s best in client service among law firms serving the Fortune 1000.