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David Coale

Widely recognized as one of the top appellate lawyers in Texas, David Coale’s diverse experience ranges from sophisticated constitutional issues in the United States Supreme Court to defense of a payphone operator before a Tarrant County Justice of the Peace. He is among the few lawyers to have handled a matter in all fourteen of the Texas intermediate courts of appeal, and is the only known Texas appellate lawyer who has been fictionalized in a romance-novel series as the lawyer for an outlaw motorcycle gang.

A frequent commentator on legal issues, David publishes, a popular blog about business cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and, a similar blog about the Dallas Court of Appeals and Texas Supreme Court. His recent articles have appeared in Slate, Salon, the Times of Israel, and the Cornell Law Review Online.

  • On December 6, 2023, won a temporary injunction against the City of Dallas’s new ordinances that banned 95% of short-term rentals (Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.) within city limits. This case drew national attention in that industry because many cities across the country have enacted similar laws over the past year, and this was the first case to successfully go to court for a city as large as Dallas.
  • Appellate counsel for FM Insurance in ongoing matters about alleged COVID-19 business-interruption coverage obligations.
  • Obtained affirmance of a substantial judgment for a landlord in a dispute alleging “force majeure” arising from COVID shutdown orders. BB Fit, LP v. EREP Preston Trail II, LLC, 2023 WL 7401501 (Tex. App.—Dallas Nov. 9, 2023, no pet. h.).
  • Obtained reinstatement of a dismissed case about a contract to sell a house originally built by Roger Staubach. Aflalo v. Harris, 2023 WL 2522206 (Tex. App.—Dallas March 15, 2023, pet. denied).
  • Lead appellate counsel in Marshall v. Marshall, defeating an effort to disinherit Elaine Marshall from a multibillion-dollar estate, by convincing the Texas Supreme Court to deny review in June 22 of a lower court decision—after the supreme court had requested full merits briefing, and with two former Justices of the state supreme court on the other side. (This matter is confidential and not for public disclosure)
  • Lead appellate counsel for the Southwest Airlines pilots’ union in SWAPA v. Boeing. The union sued Boeing to recover the many millions of dollars in income lost by Southwest’s pilots as a result of the grounding of the 737 Max. A state district court in Dallas dismissed the case based on federal labor law, and the Dallas Court of Appeals reversed in March 2022. The state supreme court is deciding whether to take the case.
  • Lead appellate counsel for AMLI, one of the nation’s largest developers of high-quality apartment home properties, in obtaining the reversal by the Austin Court of Appeals of a > $1 million judgment entered against it in a dispute with a restaurant tenant.
  • Lead appellate counsel for Virtuolotry, a Dallas-based property management company, in obtaining the reversal by the Dallas Court of Appeals of a > $1 million judgment entered against it in a tenant dispute,
  • Lead appellate counsel in Sagent v. Caliber Home Loans, a “bet the business” case about the software platform for a large mortgage servicer. Our client, Sagent, won a hard-fought temporary injunction hearing that let it cancel its contract with Caliber. Caliber sought an emergency stay from the Dallas Court of Appeals. In less than a week, the team submitted comprehensive briefing of the merits that led to denial of Caliber’s application. No. 05-21-00056-CV (Tex. App.—Dallas Jan. 29, 2021).
  • Lead appellate counsel in a New York proceeding that affirmed dismissal of all but one of the “outside the contract” claims in a >$60 million dispute about Energy Transfer’s construction of a pipeline. (Notably, the oral argument was by Zoom from one of the few Dallas homes with power during the February 2021 Texas ice storm.) GSCP VI EdgeMarc Holdings v. ETC Northeast Pipeline, 192 A.D.3d 454 (N.Y. App. Div. 2021).
  • Lead appellate counsel for a startup selling a “hard seltzer” drink, trademarked as BRIZZY, in a dispute with Molson Coors about a competing product called VIZZY. The U.S. Fifth Circuit reversed the trial court on the threshold legal issue of whether BRIZZY was a “descriptive” or “suggestive” mark under trademark law. That issue was critical for our client because designation of the mark as “descriptive” gave it very little legal protection. As a result of this appeal, our client’s case came back to life and we negotiated a successful settlement. Future Proof Brands, LLC v. Molson Coors Beverage Co., 962 F.3d 280 (5th Cir. 2020).
  • Lead appellate counsel in a multi-million dollar case about the financial liability of data processors for a service outage in the USDA’s “food stamp” program. Wal-Mart v. Xerox, No. 05-18-01421-CV (Tex. App.—Dallas Nov. 12, 2020, pet. granted) (mem. op.). Continuing to represent Xerox in the supreme court against Wal-Mart’s request for review.
  • Successfully defended the denial of a TCPA motion to dismiss in a high-profile business defamation case. Marble Ridge Capital LP v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., 611 S.W.3d 113 (Tex. App.—Dallas Sept. 30, 2020, pet. dism’d). The matter settled on further appeal to the Texas Supreme Court during 2021.
  • Obtained affirmance of a take-nothing judgment in a multi-million-dollar dispute about the development of an “energy tea” product line. Jacked Up, LLC v. Sara Lee Corp., 807 Fed. Appx. 344 (5th Cir. 2020).
  • Won Venator Materials PLC v. Macomb County Employees’ Retirement System in January 2020 before the Dallas Court of Appeals; representing the defendant in the first major appeal about a new kind of state-court securities lawsuit brought under federal law.
  • Won BNSF Railway Co. v. Panhandle Northern Railroad , 946 F.3d 705 (5th Cir. 2020) before the U.S. Fifth Circuit in January 2020, a “bet-the-business” case with industrywide significance about whether a short-line railroad in the Texas Panhandle could end a service contract with BNSF.
  • Among the 500 “Leading Litigators in America” identified by Lawdragon (2022)
  • “Top Lawyer in DFW” (in the appellate category), Chambers and Partners (2022)
  • Appellate Attorney of the Year for Texas, Leading Advisor Awards (2021)
  • Appellate Lawyer of the Year for Dallas-Fort Worth, Best Lawyers in America (2020)
  • “Litigation Star,” Benchmark (2020-present).
  • Senior Fellow, Litigation Council of America (2020-present) (previously Fellow, 2013-19)
  • Texas Super Lawyers, yearly from 2003-present in business litigation, including “Top 100 in Dallas/Fort Worth” 2014-19 and 2023, and “Top 100 in Texas” in 2015, 2017, and 2019
  • Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers, 2012-present (in both appellate practice and commercial litigation)
  • D Magazine, best lawyers in Dallas in business litigation (2008-11) and appellate (2014-present)
  • “Legal Innovator,” Texas Lawyer (September 2020)
  • “Texas Trailblazer” by Texas Lawyer (October 2019)
  • Profiled by D CEO magazine in May 2020 as the only well-known litigator in Dallas who also reads Tarot cards
  • Fictionalized by an author client in the New York Times bestseller romance novel, “Reaper's Fire,” as “Dobie Coales,” the “brilliant” lawyer for an outlaw motorcycle gang
  • Elected member, American Law Institute
  • Law Clerk, Hon Patrick Higginbotham, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1993-1994
  • University of Texas School of Law, J.D., with honors, 1993
    • Chief Articles Editor, Texas Law Review
    • Order of the Coif; Champion, Hutcheson Moot Court
  • Harvard University, A.B. cum laude, 1990
    • National college debate champion on the fifth-ranked team of the decade.
    • Named a Wendell Phillips Scholar as the class's most promising public speaker