Midway through a four-week trial involving a breach-of-contract dispute, a juror sent a note to the judge, asking, “Can you tell us how many more people will take the stand?”

Houston lawyer Gregory Cokinos, a partner in Cokinos, Bosien & Young, took the hint: “I saw the jury was ready to make a decision. I shortened my case up a lot,” he says.

He shaved almost two days off the eight days he initially had planned to present the case of his client Delta Gulf, a defendant and counterclaimant in Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. v. Delta Gulf Corp.

And it paid off on June 8, when 215th District Judge Steven E. Kirkland of Houston issued a $10.38 million judgment for Delta Gulf, including $3.8 million in attorney’s fees.

In a Nov. 15, 2010, amended petition, Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) alleged Delta Gulf had failed to complete the scope of its contracted work. TGP asserted a breach of contract claim and sought damages, attorneys’ fees and a declaratory judgment.

In an amended answer and counterclaim filed the same day, Delta Gulf denied the allegations and brought breach of contract and fraudulent inducement claims against TGP. Delta Gulf also alleged TGP violated Chapter 28 of the Texas Property Code by failing to pay promptly. TGP denied those allegations in a Feb. 3, 2011, reply.

On May 16, a jury found that both companies failed to comply with the contract but only Delta Gulf’s failure was excused. TGP’s failure was not excused, therefore jurors awarded damages and attorney’s fees to Delta Gulf. The jury also found that TGP did not commit fraud. [See the judgment in Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. v. Delta Gulf Corp.]

TGP’s lawyer Kenneth Moursund Jr. of Kinder Morgan Inc., TGP’s parent company, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Richard Wheatley, manager of corporate communications for Kinder Morgan, declines comment.

Cokinos got news of the final judgment while on vacation in Greece with his wife and children. In an email, he writes: “The sweetest part of the victory was the fact that my client’s position was completely vindicated. . . . It was also nice to recover all our attorney fees. . . .”

He says jurors interviewed after the verdict thanked him for speeding up his case at trial.

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