HOUSTON – Bracewell & Giuliani LLP successfully defended Italian energy giant Eni S.p.A. in a $6.4 billion dispute with Brenham Oil & Gas over an oil concession from the Government of Togo. On July 30, 2015, the First District Court of Appeals completely affirmed in a fifty-six page opinion the dismissal of the case by the 189th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas.
Brenham Oil, which began negotiations with the Government of Togo prior to Eni, claimed that Eni and a U.K. geophysical data company, which Brenham also sued, tortiously interfered with the agreement between it and Togo. Brenham Oil claimed Eni maligned Brenham Oil to Togo’s hydrocarbons minister in order to convince the government to breach its agreement and award the concession to Eni’s subsidiary.
Bracewell challenged the Texas court’s fundamental ability to exercise personal jurisdiction, or power, over Eni. The core issue was the type and quantity of contacts Eni had with Texas. The team developed a detailed analysis of every contact Eni had with Texas, arguing that the contacts of its U.S. subsidiary legally cannot be attributed to the Italian parent since each company was considered a separate legal person.
The trial court accepted the argument in full, ruling that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Eni, and therefore, the power to consider Brenham Oil’s substantive claims. On July 30, 2015 the First District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case.
Bracewell attorneys working on the case include:
Partner: Sean Gorman
Associate: Yvonne Y. Ho