Jan 29, 2021
Dallas Zoom Trial Concludes with $12.6M Judgment for Wind Tower Maker
Prevailing attorneys say preparation, technical details key to success in digital setting.
A weeklong bench trial in Dallas district court has resulted in a $12.6 million judgment for the plaintiff while showcasing both the capabilities of the Zoom video conferencing platform during the COVID-19 pandemic and the preparation required to effectively manage the multiple details of a remote trial.
The litigation focused on breach of contract allegations brought by Dallas-based Arcosa Wind Towers Inc. against Siemens Energy and affiliate Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. Arcosa claimed that SGRE failed to purchase a specified number of wind towers manufactured by Arcosa.
According to court documents, Siemens Energy agreed to buy 300 wind towers from Arcosa for delivery between October 2016 and September 2019, while stipulating in the contract that the two companies would negotiate in good faith any price adjustments related to alternate tower heights and components.
In what would be his last trial before becoming an appellate justice for the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas, District Judge Craig Smith returned a judgment shortly before Christmas in favor of Arcosa, finding that the contract was valid and that SGRE failed to purchase 144 towers as obligated under the contract and did not act in good faith in its negotiations with Arcosa.
The company’s lead trial counsel, Alan Dabdoub, explained that such supply agreements provide certainty and stability to both parties.
“The ability of Arcosa to rely on the volume commitment in the Supply Agreement is critical” said Mr. Dabdoub, a partner at Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann. “Arcosa reserved production capacity in its facility to build the wind towers, but when the contract was not honored, Arcosa could not immediately use that production capacity on another customer.”
Mr. Dabdoub said the parties were originally preparing to have a traditional in-person trial, but held the trial through Zoom because of a renewed spike in COVID-19 cases. Both parties engaged technology consultants to avoid any technical complications during the trial.
“We tried to present Arcosa’s case as close as we possibly could to an in-person trial, including direct and cross examinations, as well as the presentation of exhibits in a seamless way,” Dabdoub said.
“Prevailing in a complex business litigation matter in the midst of a global pandemic requires a trial team that is nimble, creative, and has command of the facts,” says firm partner Josh Sandler, a member of the trial team that included Lynn Pinker associates Josh Lang and Danielle Vera. “In contrast to presenting a witness in a normal trial setting, you have to prepare for technical issues such as lighting, backdrops, and the quality of cameras and microphones.”
The case is DC-19-13334 in Dallas County’s 192nd Civil District Court.