W. Ray Whitman

Partner

Houston
T 713.646.1367  |  F 713.751.1717

"He really understands the oil and gas business; he's my go-to guy if I have oil and gas issues. In court he's very thorough, dogged, aggressive and effective..."

— Chambers USA 2014

Ray Whitman is an experienced trial lawyer and trusted counselor who draws on his background as a geophysicist experienced in oil and gas exploration, seismic acquisition, and drilling and production practices. He provides strategic business advice for energy and oil field service companies, representing some of the largest companies in the world. With his knowledge of both the legal and operational issues of the industry, Ray is able to understand and anticipate client needs in more depth than his peers.

Ray is listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of Energy and Natural Resources Litigation, and has also been named in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2009 in the area of Natural Resources Law. Ray is Chair of BakerHostetler’s national Litigation Group, co-leader of BakerHostetler’s national Shale team and member of the firm’s Policy Committee.

Select Experience

  • Represented heavy equipment manufacturer in a wrongful death burn case resulting in a defense verdict after a two-week trial. Ray had been hired to take over the case 45 days before trial. By using a team approach, they gathered and understood facts from more than 30 depositions and tens of thousands of documents and coordinated expert testimony even though they had not been involved in the discovery process. Through the use of trial graphics and an understanding of those facts which were impactful, the team obtained an unanimous defense verdict in the face of difficult facts.
  • Represented one of the largest oilfield service providers in a two-week arbitration, including providing testimony for 11 straight days to the Panel. The contract at issue involved providing wireless communication services to drilling rig locations in North America and was argued by the claimant to be a “take or pay” type contract. Claimant originally sought damages in excess of $100 million. After the close of evidence, the Panel issued a Reasoned Award granting unanimous defense verdict for the client.
  • Has handled numerous lawsuits regarding theft and misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary and confidential information in venues across the country. Ray and his team have been successful in obtaining TROs and temporary injunctions, which have included pretrial royalties from offending companies. This type of action requires a rapid response and thorough knowledge of the energy industry, which Ray is able to provide based on his industry experience and technical training. One recent trade secret case in West Virginia resulted in the offending party paying millions of dollars as part of a settlement.
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Experience

  • Represented heavy equipment manufacturer in a wrongful death burn case resulting in a defense verdict after a two-week trial. Ray had been hired to take over the case 45 days before trial. By using a team approach, they gathered and understood facts from more than 30 depositions and tens of thousands of documents and coordinated expert testimony even though they had not been involved in the discovery process. Through the use of trial graphics and an understanding of those facts which were impactful, the team obtained an unanimous defense verdict in the face of difficult facts.
  • Represented one of the largest oilfield service providers in a two-week arbitration, including providing testimony for 11 straight days to the Panel. The contract at issue involved providing wireless communication services to drilling rig locations in North America and was argued by the claimant to be a “take or pay” type contract. Claimant originally sought damages in excess of $100 million. After the close of evidence, the Panel issued a Reasoned Award granting unanimous defense verdict for the client.
  • Has handled numerous lawsuits regarding theft and misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary and confidential information in venues across the country. Ray and his team have been successful in obtaining TROs and temporary injunctions, which have included pretrial royalties from offending companies. This type of action requires a rapid response and thorough knowledge of the energy industry, which Ray is able to provide based on his industry experience and technical training. One recent trade secret case in West Virginia resulted in the offending party paying millions of dollars as part of a settlement.
  • Represented one of the largest exploration and production companies in the world in a suit involving joint development of acreage under an Exploration Agreement and Joint Operating Agreement that included an area of mutual interest (AMI). Plaintiff alleged that it was entitled to acreage within producing units, the assignment of leases within the AMI, and damages for acreage released. Ray and his team successfully obtained two summary judgments on key issues which resulted in the dismissal of the remaining claims. The value of the alleged claims exceeded $40 million.
  • Defended clients in the seismic industry against a variety of claims, including those arising from an incident that ultimately resulted in the loss of life for crew members following a forced evacuation from a lift boat during a tropical storm. Being called immediately as the incident was occurring, Ray tasked an investigation team to the site of the incident, in another country, and gathered and preserved evidence. Ray also managed press coverage and disclosures to shareholders during this unfortunate event. Ultimately, Ray and his team were able to reach a resolution as to all claims well under what was expected or which could have been achieved at trial.
  • Represented one of the fully integrated energy companies in a dispute over the purported termination of oil and gas leases, bad faith trespass, and a variety of marketing of oil and gas issues where plaintiffs sought over $1 billion in damages. The case was tried eight months after filing, after more than 20 depositions and tens of thousands of documents were produced. Plaintiff was long time landowner in the county where the suit was pending. While the time between filing of the lawsuit and trial was short, Ray and his team was able to obtain the necessary information, facts, and witnesses in order to obtain a full defense verdict after a two week trial. The client was also awarded attorney’s fees.
  • Represented an oil field service company in patent infringement lawsuit regarding blow out preventers and related products. Ray was successful in obtaining a stipulation as to the validity of the patent and the payment of reasonable royalties.
  • Represented a large seismic company in a contractual dispute over payment of overriding royalties relating to seismic data licensed to an offshore operator. While the operator had made numerous discoveries based on the seismic data, it refused to pay the overriding royalties owed. After numerous depositions and near the close of discovery, the operator eventually paid tens of millions of dollars to resolve the litigation.
  • Represented a major drilling contractor against claims of wrongful death involving a rig hand being severed by a drilling line. After obtaining a transfer of venue and taking the depositions of key witnesses, summary judgment was filed as to liability. After oral arguments, summary judgment was granted in favor of the client, a decision which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Ray also represents oilfield service providers in a variety of catastrophic events such as blowouts, mechanical failures and electrocutions throughout the United States.

Recognitions

  • Whitman, W RayChambers USA: Litigation: Energy and Natural Resources in Texas (2012 to 2014)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2009 to 2015)
    Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC
    • Houston: Natural Resources Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • American Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell "Top Rated Lawyer" in Commercial Litigation (2013)
  • Who’s Who in American Law (2005) 
  • Texas "Super Lawyer" (2004 to 2014)

Services

Industries

Prior Positions

  • Ray worked in the oil and gas industry for more than seven years as an exploration geophysicist and gained extensive experience in oil and gas exploration, seismic acquisition, and drilling and production practices. During this time, he was involved in acquisition and interpretation of seismic data, both 2-D and 3-D, throughout major producing trends in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Ray was also engaged in seismic acquisition and interpretation in Central and South America and onshore England. Once the seismic data had been interpreted, Ray was then involved in the sale and ultimate drilling of geologic/geophysical ideas through completion or plug and abandoning of the well. Ray is able to provide a unique service to oil and gas exploration and production and oilfield service clients in litigation and dispute avoidance because of this experience.

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, 2001
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 2001
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, 1996
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 1992
  • Texas, 1990

Education

  • J.D., South Texas College of Law, 1989
  • B.S., Geophysics, Texas Tech University, 1983