In the News

Haynes and Boone in Law360: Bid Dropped for Injunction on Houston Gay Worker Benefits

Former Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill, who filed suit in Texas state court against the city of Houston over an ordinance that extends benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees, withdrew his request for a temporary injunction Friday. >>

Kent Rutter



1221 McKinney Street
Suite 2100
Houston, Texas 77010
T +1 713.547.2211
F +1 713.236.5598

Areas of Practice


  • J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1996, cum laude; Contributing Editor, University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform
  • B.A., Duke University, 1993

Bar Admissions

  • Texas

Court Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

Judicial Clerkships

Judge David Hittner, United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
Kent Rutter

Kent Rutter co-chairs the firm's appellate practice group. He is a former chair of the 300-member Appellate Practice Section of the Houston Bar Association, and has served since 2008 as a committee chair for the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas. In 2013 and 2014, he was named to the Texas Super Lawyers list of the top 100 attorneys in Houston.

Trial lawyers and their clients seek out Mr. Rutter to help them gauge the odds that particular judgments will be reversed, and to determine which types of appellate arguments are most likely to lead to victory. His judgment comes not only from his experience in the appellate courts, but also from co-authoring a groundbreaking empirical study of appellate decisions. The first edition of the study won the Texas Bar Foundation's annual "Outstanding Law Review Article" award, and the most recent analysis was published in the Houston Law Review in April 2012. Mr. Rutter has been invited to give presentations on evaluating appeals to hundreds of trial lawyers, appellate lawyers, and in-house counsel in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin.  Most recently, Mr. Rutter and Justice Tracy Christopher spoke on appellate case evaluation to the Appellate Practice Section of the Houston Bar Association.

Mr. Rutter is often asked to speak and write on other topics as well, including summary judgment practice, attorneys’ fees, and interlocutory appeals. In November 2013, Mr. Rutter and Justice Eva M. Guzman of the Texas Supreme Court spoke on "Women and the Texas Supreme Court" to the Appellate Practice Section of the Houston Bar Association.

A former federal law clerk, Mr. Rutter balances his practice between federal and state court. At the trial level, he drafts and argues summary judgment motions and jury charges and helps litigation teams develop strategies and preserve error. At the appellate level, he authors winning briefs and presents oral argument in a broad variety of federal and state appeals. Most recently, he has achieved success on behalf of appellate clients in the following areas:

  • Oil and Gas: Won reversals of adverse trial court judgments in cases involving disputed provisions of joint operating agreements, including a provision creating a preferential right to purchase oil and gas leasehold interests and an exculpatory provision that shielded an operator from liability.
  • Transportation: On behalf of a railroad, prevailed in Federal Employers Liability Act appeals, including one brought by approximately 300 claimants, and an appeal concerning indemnity obligations under a trackage rights agreement.
  • Expert witness challenges: Obtained favorable results in appeals involving challenges to expert testimony on a range of medical and scientific issues.
  • Property rights: Won reversals of adverse trial court judgments in appeals involving eminent domain issues and utility reimbursement rights.

Mr. Rutter is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Professional Recognition

  • Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Award for "Outstanding Law Review Article," presented by the Texas Bar Foundation (2004)
  • Named one of "Houston's Top Appellate Lawyers" by H Texas magazine (2009 and 2010)
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers (2012-2014)
  • Named to the list of Top 100 Houston Super Lawyers (2013) 
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Edition (2004-2011)

Professional Leadership

  • Chair, Appellate Practice Section of the Houston Bar Association (2010-2011)
  • Council Member (2009-2012) and Committee Chair (2008- ), Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas   
  • Special Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline
  • Member, Alexis de Tocqueville Society, United Way of Greater Houston
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Fellow, Houston Young Lawyers Foundation

Selected Representative Experience

False Claim & OCSLA Actions Against Major Oil Company (S.Dist. Tex. 2014)
Assumed a lead role in securing a final take-nothing summary judgment in a suit seeking $266 billion and an injunction to shut down a major oil company's offshore platform under the False Claims Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, based on purported misrepresentations about the platform designs.

Stouffer v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 420 S.W.3d 233 (Tex. App.--Dallas 2014, pet. dismissed)
In an interlocutory appeal in a case involving an accident at a railroad crossing, won the reversal of the trial court’s order denying the defendants’ motion to transfer venue and obtained the issuance of the appellate mandate before the venue issue was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, resulting in the case being transferred to a proper venue.

In re Woodfill, No. 14-14-00648-CV, 2014 WL 4088704 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 15, 2014, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.)
Defeated a petition for writ of mandamus in the Houston court of appeals that sought to rescind the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Class Action Against Major Refiner (S. Dist. Tex. 2013)
Defeated class certification in lawsuit alleging that owners' property values were diminished by alleged emissions from a refinery and seeking $10 billion in damages.

Belehu v. Lawniczak, No. 14-13-00619-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, appeal pending)
Obtained a permissive appeal from a denial of a summary judgment concerning interpretation of liability under the Texas Tort Claims Act as applied to a driver for an independent contractor for a transit authority.

Robinson v. Cason, No. 01-11-00916-CV, 2013 WL 3354651 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] July 2, 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.)
Persuaded the court of appeals to affirm a summary judgment enforcing a favorable settlement agreement, which the opposing party had attempted to disavow.

Moody National Buffalo Speedway MT, L.P. v. Sirius Solutions, LLLP, No. 01-12-00047-CV, 2013 WL 3155932 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] June 29, 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.)
Successfully defended a judgment awarding damages and attorneys’ fees to a commercial tenant whose landlord failed to restore its offices and refused to return its deposits following Hurricane Ike.

Lyondell Chemical Co. v. Albemarle Corp., 464 Fed. App'x 295 (5th Cir. 2012)
In a Fifth Circuit appeal that ended almost two decades of litigation, successfully defended a district court's allocation under CERCLA of millions of dollars in costs incurred to remediate the "Turtle Bayou" Superfund site in Liberty County, Texas.

Texas Rice Land Partners, Ltd. v. Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas, LLC, 363 S.W.3d 192 (Tex. 2012)
Represented carbon dioxide pipeline in the Texas Supreme Court in eminent domain case that drew state and national attention for its pronouncements on the requirements for a pipeline to become a common carrier.

LHC Nashua Partnership, LTD v. PDNED Sagamore Nashua, LLC, 659 F.3d 450 (5th Cir. 2011)
Won reversal of a $25.5 million jury award in which the Fifth Circuit vacated the damages for alleged lost profits arising out of a contract concerning the transfer of rights to purchase shopping mall property.

Baisden v. I’m Ready Productions, Inc., 693 F.3d 491 (5th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 568 U.S. _____ (U.S. March 18, 2013)(No. 12-803)
Complete defense victory, including declaratory judgment and substantial award of costs after nine-day federal court jury trial in lawsuit brought by nationally syndicated radio host and book author against production company, DVD distribution company, and national promoter. The Plaintiff had asserted claims for copyright infringement, unfair competition by misappropriation, breach of contract, civil conspiracy, and tortious interference with business relations. Prevailed on appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and responded to Petition for Writ of Certiorari to United States Supreme Court, obtaining denial of petition and final affirmance of verdict in favor of clients.

Homolka v. Clark, 416 Fed. App'x 408 (5th Cir. 2011)
Persuaded the Fifth Circuit to affirm a take-nothing summary judgment that defeated multi-million dollar claims for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract based on allegations of a joint venture between the parties.

Insurance Fraud Appeal (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2011)
In the wake of a massive scam involving the sale of counterfeit insurance policies, represented to resolution an insurance company in an appeal from a summary judgment on RICO claims and a jury verdict on fraud, the Lanham Act, and the Texas Insurance Code.

H. v. C. (S.D. Tex.-Houston Div. 2010)
Won a take-nothing summary judgment to defeat a multi-million dollar claim alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract based on a claim that a joint venture existed between the parties.

Atlas Petroleum Exploration Worldwide, Ltd. v. SeaWolf Oilfield Services, Ltd., No. 2009-04336 (127th Dist. Ct., Harris County, Tex.)
Successfully defended a $27 million default judgment against a Nigerian national and a Nigerian oilfield services company by defeating the defendants' special appearances and motion for new trial.

In re Union Pacific Railroad Co., 294 S.W.3d 589 (Tex. 2009)
In a mandamus proceeding, persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to require a trial court to vacate its order compelling a railroad to produce trade secret information, including its formulas for setting shipping rates.

Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Legg, No. 03-07-00512-CV, 2009 WL 2476636 (Tex. App. - Austin Aug. 12, 2009, no pet.) (mem. op.)
Prepared pre- and post-trial motions, then successfully defended a judgment on a favorable jury verdict in a railroad crossing collision case, defeating the plaintiffs' challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and their attack on the trial court's refusal to strike venire members for cause.

Ibarra v. Baker, No. 08-20220, 338 Fed. App'x 457, 2009 WL 2244659 (5th Cir. July 28, 2009)
Persuaded the Fifth Circuit to vacate a district court's findings that two attorneys engaged in misconduct by giving or abiding false testimony.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co. v. Missouri Pacific Railroad, No. 09-06-00255-CV, 2008 WL 2759084 (Tex. App.-Beaumont July 17, 2008, pet. denied) (mem. op.)
Successfully defended on appeal a judgment holding that no indemnity obligation arose from a trackage rights agreement between two railroads.

Navasota Resources, L.P. v. First Source Texas, Inc., 249 S.W.3d 526 (Tex. App.-Waco 2008, pet. denied)
On behalf of an oil and gas exploration company, obtained reversal of an adverse trial court ruling and rendition of an appellate judgment enforcing a preferential right to purchase oil and gas leasehold interests.

Ibarra v. Harris County, Texas, No. 05-20259, 243 Fed. Appx. 830 (5th Cir. June 28, 2007)
In an interlocutory appeal in a civil rights case, won the dismissal of all claims against four law enforcement officers.

Abraham v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 233 S.W.3d 13 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. denied)
Successfully defended on appeal a take-nothing summary judgment in favor of a railroad based on the inadmissibility of expert testimony, in a case brought under the Federal Employers Liability Act by approximately 300 claimants.

In re Harris County, Texas, No. 05-20404, 240 Fed. Appx. 644 (5th Cir. June 28, 2007)
Persuaded the Fifth Circuit to grant mandamus relief and vacate an order that disqualified the Harris County Attorney’s office from representing Harris County and its law enforcement officers in a civil rights case.

Shrewsbury v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 2007-4723 (327th Dist. Ct., El Paso County, Tex.)
Obtained summary judgment in a bill of review proceeding, defeating a challenge to a favorable default judgment.

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. v. City of Houston, 171 S.W.3d 240 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, no pet.)
Obtained reversal of a judgment denying a railroad's right to condemn property for a proposed rail line, resulting in rendition of a judgment confirming the railroad's right to condemn under the doctrine of federal preemption.

Laredo Medical Group Corp. v. Mireles, 155 S.W.3d 417 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 2004, pet. denied)
Obtained reversal of a $1.5 million judgment in a wrongful termination case against a hospital, based on an error in the jury charge.

Jones v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 14-02-01289-CV, 2004 WL 1688175 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] July 29, 2004, pet. denied) (mem. op.)
Successfully defended on appeal a judgment that favored a railroad in a Federal Employers Liability Act case, based on the employee's waiver of his challenges to the jury verdict.

Volkswagen of America v. Ramirez, 159 S.W.3d 897 (Tex. 2004)
In a products liability case, obtained reversal of a nearly $20 million judgment and rendition of a judgment that the plaintiffs take nothing, by persuading the Texas Supreme Court that the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert witness concerning the cause of an automobile accident was scientifically unreliable.

IP Petroleum Co., Inc. v. Wevanco Energy, L.L.C., 116 S.W.3d 888 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] 2003, pet denied)
Won reversal of a judgment in excess of $5 million against an oil and gas company for the alleged breach of a joint operating agreement, resulting in rendition of a take-nothing judgment.

Administaff Companies, Inc. v. New York Joint Board Shirt & Leisurewear Division, 337 F.3d 454 (5th Cir. 2003)
On behalf of the trustee of an employer's bankruptcy estate, successfully defended on appeal a declaratory judgment that the employer's human resources provider complied with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

N.P., Inc. v. Turboff, 111 S.W.3d 40 (Tex. 2003)
Obtained a unanimous reversal in the Texas Supreme Court of a judgment that denied a property owner recovery of a municipal utility district reimbursement valued at more than $2 million.

Frias v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 104 S.W.3d 925 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 2003, no pet.)
In an appeal in which the key issue was the reliability of an expert's testimony, successfully defended a no-evidence summary judgment against an employee of a petrochemical refinery.

Eureste v. Commission for Lawyer Discipline, 76 S.W.3d 184 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.)
Acting as Special Assistant Disciplinary Counsel for the State Bar of Texas, successfully defended a judgment sanctioning former a San Antonio City Councilman who, as an attorney, fraudulently obtained payment of millions of dollars in fees.

Montgomery v. O’Quinn, No. 99-47502, (189th Dist. Ct., Harris County, Tex.)
In a breach of contract suit seeking $120 million in damages against an attorney and law firm, assisted trial counsel in formulating trial strategy, took responsibility for all law matters, filed and argued numerous pre-trial motions (including summary judgment motions, motions concerning privilege, and other discovery matters), and prepared the jury charge.

MTIS Ltd. v. Corporation Interamericana de Entretenemienta, S.A. de C.V., 64 S.W.3d 62 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, no pet.)
Successfully defended on appeal an order that dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction claims concerning a purported agreement to present musical theater productions in Mexico.

El Paso Natural Gas Co. v. Minco Oil & Gas, Inc., 8 S.W.3d 309 (Tex. 1999)
In an appeal of a multi-million dollar award in an oil and gas case, won reversal and rendition of a take-nothing judgment by persuading the Texas Supreme Court to hold that Texas law does not recognize a duty of good faith under Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Ensley v. Cody Resources, Inc., 171 F.3d 315 (5th Cir. 1999)
In a dispute involving a business acquisition and stock distribution, successfully defended an appellate challenge to a judgment in favor of a broker and consultant for petroleum-related businesses.

Klenk v. Bustamante, 993 S.W.2d 677 (Tex. App. - San Antonio 1998, no pet.)
Through an interlocutory challenge to the trial court’s jurisdiction, obtained pretrial dismissal of all claims against three in-house attorneys at a securities firm.

In re Smith Barney Inc., 975 S.W.2d 593 (Tex. 1998)
In a lawsuit against a securities firm arising from the privatization of government-owned enterprises in Eastern Europe, persuaded the Texas Supreme Court, acting in a mandamus proceeding, to overturn a longstanding limitation on the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

Smith Barney, Inc. v. Settle, No. 13-97-00554-CV, 2000 WL 1146516 (Tex. App. - Corpus Christi May 21, 1998, no pet.)
Won reversal of an order setting a case for trial against a securities firm and obtained rendition of a judgment compelling arbitration.

Highlands Management Co. v. First Interstate Bank of Texas, N.A., 956 S.W.2d 749 (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, pet. denied)
Successfully defended on appeal an order enforcing a deed restriction and prohibiting the operation of a sexually-oriented business.


  • State Bar of Texas, Appellate Section
  • Houston Bar Association, Appellate Practice Section
  • Houston Young Lawyers Association
  • National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists

Online Publications

04/13/2012 - Reasons for Reversal in the Texas Court of Appeals
As Sherlock Holmes reminds us, it is a mistake to theorize before one has data. Detectives know this. Scientists know this. Lawyers know this too, but even in the absence of data, they frequently are called upon to theorize about reasons for reversal in the Texas courts of appeals.

01/13/2012 - Texas Bar Journal Guest Article: 2011 Year in Review - Texas Supreme Court
At the Texas Supreme Court, 2011 will be remembered as the year the Court conquered its backlog.

01/01/2011 - 2010 Year in Review: Texas Supreme Court
Recovering from the backlogs that recently weighed down its docket, the Texas Supreme Court issued decisions in 2010 at its fastest pace in years. Currently, after the court grants a petition for review in an argued cause, it hears oral argument and issues a decision within about 13 months, on average. That is five months faster than the court issued decisions just two years ago.

02/01/2010 - Inside the Mind of an Appellate Judge: 25 Lessons from the Appellate Judicial Survey
What do appellate judges find persuasive? What common practices frustrate them? The Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure tell you what you can and cannot do, but they cannot answer questions like these. This article provides a glimpse inside the mind of an appellate judge.

01/01/2010 - 2009 Year in Review: Texas Supreme Court
In 2009, the Texas Supreme Court came full circle in its approach to petitions for review. During the first half of the decade, the Court was highly selective in granting review, adding new causes to its docket at an average pace of 113 per year. But in 2005, the number of new causes shot up by 50 percent. Between 2005 and 2008, the court added an average of 147 new causes per year. In 2009, the court put its docket on a diet, adding just 106 new causes.

09/15/2009 - Results of the 2009 Judicial Survey
This Spring, the Appellate Section’s Member Services Committee sent a survey to the Texas Supreme Court and to each of the fourteen courts of appeals. The Committee co-chairs, Kent Rutter and JoAnn Storey, prepared the survey and tabulated its results. The survey consists of 64 questions, which cover brief writing, oral argument, motion practice, and miscellaneous topics. (Reprinted by permission of State Bar of Texas Appellate Section's Appellate Advocate.)

07/17/2009 - Drop the Lifetime Tenure for Justices on High Court
Houston Chronicle
Wouldn't it be nice if the words “Supreme Court confirmation hearings” weren't so often found in the same sentence as “circus”? The Sotomayor hearings are hardly changing the situation. A big-top atmosphere pervades the hearings, even though the outcome is virtually assured.

07/01/2009 - Results of the 2009 Judicial Survey: A Sneak Preview
In July 2009, the Appellate Advocate published "Results of the 2009 Judicial Survey: A Sneak Preview," presenting the results of a survey of Texas appellate judges that Mr. Rutter conducted with JoAnn Storey on behalf of the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas. This article provides a sampling of some of the results. (Reprinted by permission of State Bar of Texas Appellate Section's Appellate Advocate.)

01/01/2009 - 2008 Year In Review: Texas Supreme Court
As 2008 began, the Texas Supreme Court received some unfavorable attention from the press. Newspapers and television newscasts across the state reported that the Court’s backlog had reached its highest level in years. While some of the media’s statistics were questioned, the point was indisputable - between 1999 and 2007, the Court’s backlog had more than doubled.1

01/19/2008 - 2007 Year In Review: Texas Supreme Court
"The day you see a camera come into our courtroom it's going to roll over my dead body." So said U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter in 1996. Fortunately for observers of the Texas Supreme Court, its justices see the matter differently. On March 20, 2007, the court welcomed cameras into its courtroom and began streaming live video of oral arguments over the Internet.

01/01/2007 - 2006 Year In Review: Texas Supreme Court
The Texas Supreme Court kicked off 2006 with a double surprise. On Jan. 6, the court withdrew its opinion and scheduled a second oral argument in Excess Underwriters at Lloyd’s v. Frank’s Casing Crew & Rental Tools. In its original opinion, the court held that an excess insurance carrier that disputes coverage but settles a third-party claim against its insured may, in some circumstances, recoup the settlement payments from its insured. Business groups and others urged the court to reconsider.

01/01/2006 - 2005 Year In Review: Texas Supreme Court Changes

01/01/2005 - 2004 Legal Perspective: Texas Supreme Court Changes

01/01/2004 - Appellate Law: Broad-Form Submission Narrowed

10/01/2003 - Evaluating Appeals by the Numbers

09/05/2003 - Reasons for Reversal in the Texas Courts of Appeals

02/01/2002 - The Texas Supreme Court Goes To War
By U.S. tradition, free elections are held even in times of war, when state and local events are often overshadowed by news of a world in turmoil. It was under these conditions that during World War II, a lawyer serving abroad in the United States armed forces challenged a respected incumbent judge on the Supreme Court of Texas. The result was a race unlike any the court had ever seen.

01/01/2002 - Texas Supreme Court Goes to War: Texas Women Respond to the Court's Call to Duty

11/01/2000 - The Making of a Justice: The 1958 Joe Greenhill/Sarah T. Hughes Race for the Supreme Court
Observers of contemporary Texas Supreme Court elections look at the dawning of the "two party" era in the early 1980s as a unique time in the history of the court. It is certainly true that for many years, political ideology and judicial philosophy were not as pivotal as they are today in Supreme Court campaigns. However, the modern trend did not begin in the 1980s.