ROBERT L. KLAWETTER

PARTNER

robert-klawetter

ROBERT L. KLAWETTER

PARTNER

email: klawetter@easthamlaw.com

phone: (713) 225-0905

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Mr. Klawetter is one of the firm’s senior partners and has a litigation practice specializing in the defense of personal injury and wrongful death cases.  He has dozens of jury and non-jury trials to his credit over almost 40 years of law practice, as well as numerous appellate arguments.  He is also a frequent lecturer on maritime personal injury law in both the United States and abroad.

Mr. Klawetter has been named both a Texas Super Lawyer and one of the Best Lawyers in America for Maritime and Transportation Law for many consecutive years.  He has also been awarded an AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards.

Outside of his law practice, Mr. Klawetter is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and an avid trekker and mountain climber.  He has participated in expeditions to the continental highpoints in Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Europe and South America and has summited the high point in the contiguous United States more than 30 times.

SELECTED DECISIONS

In re ENSCO Offshore Int’l Co., 311 S.W.3d 921 (Tex. 2010) (Texas Supreme Court granted defendant’s petition for writ of mandamus finding that trial court’s denial of motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds was abuse of discretion).

Abston v. Jungerhans Mar. Servs. GMBH & Co. KG, 664 F. App’x 378 (5th Cir. 2016) (Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of vessel dismissing longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Kitchens v. Stolt Tankers B.V., 657 F. App’x 248 (5th Cir. 2016) (Fifth Circuit affirmed district court’s grant of summary judgement dismissing harbor worker’s claims against vessel owner).

In re OSG Ship Mgmt., Inc., 2016 WL 7478376 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 29, 2016) (Court of Appeals granted defendant’s petition for mandamus and directed trial court to dismiss case pursuant to forum selection clause).

Shaffer v. Hamburg Sud North America, C.A. No. 4:15-cv-01345 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 7, 2016) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Giron v. Intermarine LLC, C.A. No. 4:10-cv-00231 (S.D. Tex. March 27, 2014) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Rodriguez-Magos v. MS Wotan Reederei Tamke GmbH & Co. KG, C.A. No. 4:14-cv-01807 (S.D. Tex. March 14, 2016) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Izaguirre v. Ugland Marine Mgmt. AS, 2013 WL 820501 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 5, 2013) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Hopper v. M/V UBC SINGAPORE, 2010 WL 2977296 (S.D. Tex. July 20, 2010) (Obtained dismissal of non-dependent parents’ claims for loss of society, pecuniary loss and punitive damages via summary judgment).

Hopper v. M/V UBC SINGAPORE, 2010 WL 2787806 (S.D. Tex. July 14, 2010) (Defendants successfully limited and excluded testimony from multiple plaintiff experts).

Meza v. MSC Ship Mgmt. HK Ltd., 345 F.App’x 19 (5th Cir. 2009) (Fifth Circuit affirmed grant of summary judgment dismissing longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Mendez v. Furtrans Shipping Group, C.A. No. 4:08-CV-01361 (S.D. Tex. May 13, 2009) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Gonzalez v. Sun Light Shipping Co. Ltd., C.A. No. 3:07-cv-00181 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 4, 2009) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Aitkin v. Stena Drilling Ltd., Cause No. 08-cv-02390, In the 56th Judicial District of Galveston County, September 3, 2009 (Defendants dismissed for lack of jurisdiction).

Pervyshev v. INC Interorient Navigation Hamburg GMBH & Co. KG, 278 F. App’x 321 (5th Cir. 2008) (Foreign seaman’s claims dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over defendant).

Perry v. M.V. S.C.M. Athina, C.A. No. 3:07-cv-00286 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 10, 2008) (Obtained dismissal of longshoreman’s personal injury claims).

Orsulic v. Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc., C.A. No. 3:07-cv-00203 (Sept. 9, 2008) (Obtained dismissal of suit on basis of forum non conveniens).

Farwah v. Prosperous Mar. Corp., 220 S.W.3d 585 (Tex. App.–Beaumont 2007) (Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of foreign shipowning defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction in wrongful death matter).

Motts v. M/V GREEN WAVE, 210 F.3d 565, 567 (5th Cir. 2000) (Obtained dismissal of punitive damage award and Fifth Circuit recognized that shore-based actions that cause injury on navigable waters are within admiralty jurisdiction and subject to principles of maritime law rather than state law).

Dolling v. Amanda Hess Corp., 83 F. Supp. 2d 843 (S.D. Tex. 2000) (Obtained dismissal of seaman’s claims related to alleged toxic vapor exposure based on lack of medical causation).

Smedvig Asia, Ltd. v. Diaz, 2000 WL 351792 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 6, 2000) (Obtained dismissal of wrongful death case based on lack of personal jurisdiction).

Sabocuhan v. Geco-Prakla, 78 F. Supp.2d 603, 604 (S.D. Tex. 1999) (Severe brain damage case dismissed pursuant to foreign forum selection agreement).

Valentin v. Ocean Ships, Inc., 38 F. Supp.2d 511 (S.D. Tex. 1999) (Equitable tolling inapplicable to seaman who was not diligent in timely filing and serving suit).

Maritime Overseas Corp. v. Waiters, 917 S.W.2d 17 (Tex. 1996) (Rejecting punitive damages for failure to pay maintenance and cure).

Guevara v. Mar. Overseas Corp., 59 F.3d 1496 (5th Cir. 1995) (en banc) (Rejecting punitive damages for failure to pay maintenance and cure).

Garcia v. M/V San Francisco, 824 F.2d 971 (5th Cir. 1987) (Affirming dismissal for forum non conveniens).

McClelland Engineers, Inc. v. Munusamy, 784 F.2d 1313 (5th Cir. 1986) (Holding district court was required to determine prior to trial whether U.S. or foreign law applied).

O’Berry v. McDermott, Inc., 712 S.W.2d 206 (Tex. App.–Houston [14th Dist.] 1986) (Affirming that service of process on parent corporation was ineffective as to subsidiary).

SELECTED TRIALS

Alkhulaqi, Mohamed vs. Ocean Ships, Inc.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Severe laceration of tendons of left wrist, resulting in chronic pain and loss of left hand function
Demand: $300,000
Judgment: $51,000 (total damages of $204,000; Plaintiff 75% at fault; Defendant 25% at fault; net recovery $51,000)

Anderson, Billy F. vs. Penn-Attransco Corporation, Formerly AT&T
Jones Act personal injury claim
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Demand: $120,000
Judgment:Plaintiff take nothing

Arvanites, John vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim, plus claim for punitive damages for wrongful failure to pay maintenance and cure
Low back injury
Demand: unspecified (in excess of $50,000 jurisdictional limits)
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Bonefont v. U.S. Shipping Partners LP
Jones Act personal injury claim
Low back injury
Demand: $250,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Conti, Sebastian vs. Sanko Lines, et al.
Longshoreman’s third party personal injury claim
Knee injury (total knee replacement)
Demand: $275,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Curry, James Harold vs. ENSCO Offshore Company
Jones Act personal injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $500,000.00
Judgment: $244,500.00
Jury awarded $344,200.00 ($507,000.00 less contributory negligence assessment)
Trial court sua sponte entered final judgment against Defendant for $507,000.00.
U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reduced judgment to $244,500.00 by reversing trial court’s judgment as to both Plaintiff’s contributory negligence and award of future medical expenses.

Daigle, Mark vs. ENSCO Marine Company, et al
Seaman’s maintenance, cure and attorneys’ fees claim
Operated low back
Demand: maintenance and cure of approximately $10,000.00; attorneys’ fees of $50,000.00
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Daigle, Mark vs. ENSCO Marine Company, et al
Jones Act personal injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $500,000
Judgment: $25,000

Esquivel, Olifidio J. vs. Vivian Tankships Corporation
Jones Act personal injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $1,600,000
Judgment: $35,000 (verdict of $700,000 — fault apportioned 95% to Plaintiff and 5% to Defendant)

Gentz, Joseph J. vs. Philadelphia Tanker Corporation
Jones Act personal injury claim
Back injury
Demand: Unspecified (in excess of $50,000 jurisdictional limits)
Judgment: $26,000

Haight, Jonathon vs. Ocean Ships, Inc.
Jones Act personal injury claim, combined with penalty wage claim
Fractured hip
Demand: $125,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Hurysz, Robert J. vs. Ocean Ships, Inc.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $150,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

LeBeouf, Bernard vs. M/V ESSO CARIBBEAN, et al.
General maritime law negligence claim by cargo inspector
Fractured heels/fractured pelvis
Demand: $100,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing from Defendant Sea Hoss,
defended by Eastham
Plaintiff take $500,000 plus from M/V ESSO
CARIBBEAN, defended by another firm

Lopez, Rudolph vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Knee and low back injuries
Demand: unspecified (in excess of $50,000 jurisdictional limits)
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Lowry, William vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Bilateral hernia
Demand: $95,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Macip, Harry vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Torn biceps muscle
Demand: $125,000
Judgment: $35,000 (settled post-trial)

McGuire, Chadwick vs. ENSCO Marine Company
Jones Act personal injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $1,500,000.00
Judgment: Judgment for Defendant (Trial court judgment of $770,190.33 was reversed and rendered by U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals)

Milla, Serafin vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation
Jones Act personal injury claim
Shoulder injury
Demand: $600,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Milla, Serafin vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Back injury
Demand: unspecified (in excess of $50,000 jurisdictional limits)
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Motts, Neville vs. Central Gulf Lines, Inc., et al
Wrongful death claim under Jones Act, Death on High Seas Act,
General Maritime Law and state law
Crushed pelvis and hip requiring hip replacement surgery, after which
Plaintiff suffered a fatal heart attack
Demand: $1,900,000.00
Judgment: $687,686.00 (Trial court judgment of $1,312,686.00 was reduced and remanded by U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals as to entire $625,000.00 awarded as non-pecuniary damages)

Neff, John vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Inguinal hernia
Demand: $130,000
Judgment: $25,000 (settled post-trial)

Ocean Ships, Inc. vs. Shabrawy, Ahman
Declaratory Judgment action on Jones Act maintenance and cure claim
Head, neck and low back injuries
Demand: continued payment of maintenance and cure
Judgment: Ocean Ships, Inc. had no further obligation to pay maintenance and cure to Shabrawy (affirmed on appeal by U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals)

Raine, Terrell vs. ENSCO Offshore Company
Jones Act person injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $850,000.00
Judgment: settled during presentation of Plaintiff’s evidence
for $437,500.00

Rivas, Napoleon vs. Maritime Overseas Corporation, et al.
Jones Act personal injury claim
Knee injury
Demand: unspecified (in excess of $50,000 jurisdictional
limits)
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Simpkins, John vs. Ocean Ships, Inc.
Jones Act personal injury claim, plus claim for punitive damages for wrongful failure to pay maintenance and cure
Low back injury
Demand: $750,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Solano, Marcos vs. M/V STAR SKARVEN, et al.
Longshoreman’s third party personal injury claim
Crushing injury to foot, plus punitive damage claim
Demand: $600,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Trevino, Francisco Javier vs. Empresa Lineas Maritimas Argentinas
Longshoreman’s third party personal injury claim
Back injury
Demand: $250,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Tumlinson, Elvis vs. Leigh Hoegh & Co. A/S
Longshoreman’s third party personal injury claim
Knee injury
Demand: $250,000
Judgment: Plaintiff take nothing

Yates, Karl vs. ENSCO Offshore Company
Jones Act person injury claim
Operated low back
Demand: $1,000,000.00
Judgment: settled for $350,000.00 at close of Plaintiff’s
evidence

SELECTED LEGAL ARTICLES WRITTEN

“Third Party Claims Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act” — State Bar of Texas Admiralty/Maritime Law Seminar (1991)

“Maritime Personal Injury Litigation in the United States by Foreign Seamen” — Assuranceforeningen GARD (1993)

“Prosecuting and Defending a Jones Act Case Including Experts – The Defense Perspective” — State Bar of Texas (1994)

“Sailing in Occupied Waters: the Aftermath of Miles” — University of Texas 4th Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference (1995)

“Punitive Damages Including Maintenance and Cure” — State Bar of Texas (1996)

“The Receding Tide of Punitive Damages: A View From Both Sides of the Bar” — University of Texas 5th Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference (1996)

“Damages Recoverable in Death Cases” — Tulane Admiralty Law Institute (1997)

“Current Frontiers in Maritime Fatal Injury Litigation” — University of Texas 9th Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law Conference (2000)

“Personal Injury Litigation in the U.S.-Protecting the Shipowner Before and After Suit is Filed” — Assuranceforeningen GARD Summer Seminar, Arendal, Norway (2001)

Contributor to Assuranceforeningen GARD’s P&I Handbook (5th Edition, 2002)

“Contractual and Litigation Considerations for Employees Working Outside the U.S.” – 63rd Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference (2012)

PRACTICE AREAS
  • Admiralty & Maritime
  • Personal Injury Defense: General Liability; Product Liability; Insurance Defense
  • Environmental  & Toxic Tort
  • Transportation & Trucking
  • Appellate
EDUCATION
  • Baylor University, J.D., 1981
  • Mary Hardin Baylor University,  B.S. , 1978
BAR/COURT ADMISSIONS
  • State Bar of Texas
  • United States Supreme Court
  • Texas Supreme Court and all lower Texas Courts
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
MEMBERSHIPS & AFFILIATIONS
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States (Proctor Member)
  • Texas Association of Defense Counsel
  • Defense Research Institute