Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 17, 2016 – A federal jury awarded nearly $9.3 million to a San Antonio-based oil company in a breach of contract lawsuit.
After a two-week trial, federal jurors found for U.S. Enercorp LTD against Ringo Shapiro and two companies owned by him. The jury award was for $9,291,570.06, including $3 million in punitive damages. The jury concluded that the defendants intentionally interfered with Enercorp’s Montana oil leases.
“The jury in this case awarded punitive damages apparently in part because they found that the defendants intentionally interfered with a contract,” said Gregory D. Jordan of the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan, an Austin business litigation attorney. “Jurors often show a willingness to punish parties that wrongfully interfere with contracts between others,” said Jordan.
The lawsuit began in November 2012 when Enercorp sued Shapiro, a California businessman, and two of his companies: SDC Montana Bakken Exploration LLC, based in San-Antonio, and ValVerde Investments LLC, based in Santa Monica, California. The suit was originally filed in San Antonio’s 166th State District Court, but was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, under Judge Royce C. Lamberth. After four years of legal wrangling, the trial began March 18. Jurors heard eight days of testimony over the course of a two-week trial, finally entering a verdict for the plaintiff.
Bruce C. Gates, President of Enercorp, said that his company was not litigious but was “forced” to file the lawsuit due to interference with the company’s business dealings. Gates said that the verdict was evidence that “juries get it right” and that improper business practices will not be tolerated in the Texas oil and gas industry.
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