US Supreme Court Won’t Overturn NOV Win in $120M Discrimination Suit
November 9, 2017
HOUSTON – A $120 million discrimination lawsuit against oilfield equipment supplier National Oilwell Varco LP (NOV) has died on appeal as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a petition for review filed by eight former NOV employees.
The employees lost their discrimination case in a Houston trial in 2015. They had argued to the high court that comments made by NOV’s lawyers at trial were wrongly admitted and prevented them from getting a fair trial. On October 30 the court denied their bid to hear the case.
Houston lawyer John Zavitsanos, a founding partner in AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, tried the case with associate Nathan Campbell. Mr. Zavitsanos said his client is pleased to finally have this case over.
Mr. Zavitsanos said there was a lot of Texas-bashing by opposing counsel in the jury trial. “When in fact, Houston is the most diverse city in the country, and a vibrant place where we value people’s rights,” he told Law360 in an article headlined, “Supreme Court Won’t Hear National Oilwell Racism Claims” (subscription required). “A company like NOV, which is a great corporate citizen, does not tolerate discrimination in the workplace.”
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 and three years later a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas determined after 12 days of testimony that NOV had not violated the rights of the workers. The plaintiffs were represented by high-profile civil rights lawyer Angela M. Alioto of the San Francisco-based Law Offices of Mayor Joseph L. Alioto and Angela Alioto.
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury verdict, unanimously rejecting the workers’ claims that they were subjected to racial discrimination, a hostile workplace, and retaliation during their employment.
The case is Junious Vital et al. v. National Oilwell Varco LP, case number 17-457, in the U.S. Supreme Court.
AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, 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 Lawyers’ 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.