Raymond Neuer recalls how he shed about 15 pounds during a successful three-week jury trial in the 270th District Court in Houston in Flowserve Corp. v. National Oilwell Varco LP.

"It’s not the greatest way to diet," warns Neuer, a shareholder in Houston’s Sheehy Ware & Pappas.

He may have lost pounds, but on Feb. 8 Neuer won a hefty $1.9 million-plus final judgment for his client, which includes about $638,000 in attorney fees. Neuer’s strategy in the business-to-business breach of contract suit was to stress to the jury, "We just wanted our money back," he says, adding that he made a strategic decision not to oversell the case to the jury. Neuer notes that his client did not seek punitive damages and ultimately elected to receive damages on a breach of contract claim rather than a fraud claim because the former allowed for attorney fees.

In an amended petition filed July 19, 2012, Neuer’s client Flowserve Corp., a water pump company, alleged that the defendant had marketed and sold it, through a contractor, two driver motors to incorporate into water pumps. But it alleged those driver motors leaked oil, ultimately requiring replacement at a cost of $1.18 million. The petition cites as causes of action breach express warranty, breach of contract as well as fraud by misrepresentation.

In an answer filed July 16, 2012, National Oilwell Varco denied all the allegations and specifically denied that its motors had failed to meet contractual specifications. Bradley Whalen, a partner in Houston’s Porter Hedges, who represents National Oilwell, declines comment.

After less than an hour of deliberations, the jury issued its verdict on Nov. 15, 2012, concluding that the defendant had breached the contract and committed fraud by misrepresentation, awarding Flowserve damages at more than $1 million.

In his Feb. 8 final judgment, 270th District Judge Brent Gamble added the attorney fees, plus additional fees if the ruling is appealed.

Although his client didn’t elect the allegation of fraud as the basis of its recovery, the cause of action served a purpose at trial because it helped him tell "a natural story" to the jury about the marketing of the motors, said Neuer.

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