Mr. Lafitte has a comprehensive law practice that encompasses both oil and gas matters and business litigation. His wide-ranging experience includes oil and gas exploration issues, lessor/lessee royalty controversies, pipeline construction, gas sales contracts, environmental issues affecting the oil and gas industry, antitrust and trade regulation, securities fraud and legal malpractice.
Mr. Lafitte's business litigation work covers business torts issues, director and officer liability litigation, antitrust, professional liability defense, securities litigation, trademark, copyright, patent infringement, trade secret litigation and transactional disputes.
He has served as a panelist on complex commercial cases for the American Arbitration Association. He is a former president and member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
A past chairman of the board of the Louisiana State University Foundation, Mr. Lafitte served in the U. S. Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps as a first lieutenant.
Highlights of his practice achievements include:
•Mr. Lafitte represented Vancouver Plywood Co. and Willamette Industries Inc. in a private treble-damage antitrust class action, based on an alleged price-fixing conspiracy, brought by the purchasers of plywood against manufacturers/sellers. In re Plywood Antitrust Litigation , 655 F.2d 627 (5th Cir. 1981), cert. granted , 456 U.S. 971 (1982)
•He served as counsel defending Pennzoil Company against breach of contract and state antitrust claims against it and a natural gas supplier. The defendants faced claims totaling over $500 million (before trebling) brought by three public utilities in state court in Louisiana. After a 14-month trial, Pennzoil was held to have no liability, and the finding was upheld on appeal. Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. United Gas Pipe Line Company , 493 So. 2d 1149 (La. 1986), on remand , 518 So. 2d 1050 (La. App. 4th Cir. 1987), writ denied , 523 So. 2d 232 (La. 1988)
•Mr. Lafitte represented the National Ocean Industries Association, and many of its member oil companies and service companies
•as intervenors in litigation initiated by the States of New York and New Jersey, Long Island counties and environmental groups against the Secretary of the Interior to enjoin the first OCS lease sale in the Atlantic Ocean. The case was tried in the Eastern District of New York. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allowed the lease sale to take place and ultimately upheld the validity of the leases granted. County of Suffolk v. Secretary of Interior, 562 F.2d 1368 (2nd. Cir. 1977)
•In a landmark four-to-three decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court, Mr. Lafitte represented a defendant/mineral lessee in trial and appeal. This case determined for the first time in Louisiana the mineral lessee's obligations under a “market value” royalty provision. Henry v. Ballard & Cordell Corp., 418 So. 2d 1334 (La. 1982)
•He represented Texaco, Inc. in a case in which the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed lower appellate and trial court decisions in upholding the validity of royalty payments of Texaco to its mineral lessor on natural gas production from valuable producing leases. LP&L v. Texaco, Inc. , 478 So. 2d 926 (La. App. 4th Cir. 1985), rev'd , 491 So. 2d 363 (La. 1986) cert. denied , 483 U.S. 1009, 107 S. Ct. 3239 (1987)
•A prominent Louisiana law firm was alleged to have engaged in monopolization and attempted monopolization of a specialized legal practice involving municipal finance. Mr. Lafitte's representation of the firm resulted in the lawsuit's dismissal on summary judgment, which was upheld on appeal through the denial of certiorari by the United States Supreme Court. Benton, Benton & Benton v. Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, 897 F.2d 198 (5th Cir. 1990), cert. denied , 499 U.S. 975 (1991)
•Mr. Lafitte represented the American Petroleum Institute and member companies with significant partial success in a case where regulations issued by the federal agency, under the federal Clean Water Act, were challenged. The American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, 787 F.2d 965 (5th Cir. 1986)
•He represented the defendant in a case that dealt with a question of interpretation of an oil and gas contract. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed an adverse district court decision and rendered in favor of his client. Tidelands Royalty “B” Corp. v. Gulf Oil Corp., 804 F.2d 1344 (5th Cir. 1986)
•Mr. Lafitte's representation of a prominent Arkansas law firm resulted in the United States Fifth Circuit's reversal of an adverse jury verdict. The case involved questions of obligations and responsibilities of counsel for underwriters in a securities law transaction. Abell v. Potomac Insurance Co., 858 F.2d 1104 (5th Cir. 1988)
•As co-counsel for one of the defendants, Mr. Lafitte achieved summary judgment in favor of his client. The jury ultimately awarded a $47 million dollar verdict against the remaining defendant. Zapata Gulf Marine Corp. v. Puerto Rico Maritime Shipping Authority, 682 F. Supp. 1345 (E.D. La. 1988)
•He represented the principal defendant in a federal antitrust claim brought by a manufacturer of secondary waste water treatment facilities. Claims were dismissed on a summary judgment motion. United Industries, Inc. v. Eimco Process Equipment Co., 61 F.3d 445 (5th Cir. 1995)
• Chapter 1, Introduction to Federal Practice, Lawyers Cooperative Federal Practice Guide, Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial - 5th Circuit (1996)
• “Civility Costs Nothing, ” The Bencher, The American Inns of Court (July/August 2004)