People / Mark Trachtenberg
Trachtenberg Mark

Mark Trachtenberg

Mark Trachtenberg, who represents major companies in high-stakes appeals, is proud to be recognized by his peers as a top lawyer in his field. He was named as the 2023 Lawyer of the Year—Appellate Practice in Houston by The Best Lawyers in America directory. He was recognized as one of the top 100 lawyers in Texas and as one of the top appellate lawyers in the state by Texas Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters). And he is ranked in Chambers USA, 2019-2023 (Chambers and Partners) for appellate law in Texas, in which clients called Mark a “thought leader” and a “very effective” advocate who “comes across as trustworthy and persuasive in his work,” and whose “broad knowledge of Texas law serves his clients really well.”

Mark’s accomplishments for clients include:

  • Obtaining reversal in the Texas Supreme Court of a $22 million tortious interference and trade secret misappropriation judgment
  • Obtaining a summary judgment in a False Claims Act case in which the plaintiffs had sought billions in damages against a major oil company, and successfully defending the appeal of the take-nothing judgment in the Fifth Circuit
  • Successfully defending a Fifth Circuit appeal of a $3.6 billion bankruptcy plan of reorganization
  • Obtaining a reversal in the Texas Supreme Court of a $14 million products liability judgment
  • Prevailing on a special appearance that shielded the firm’s Singaporean client from a potential $500 million judgment

A highlight of Mark’s career has been his work on behalf of Texas public schools, an opportunity that arose from a law review article he authored on the history of Texas’s school finance litigation while at Yale Law School. Mark played a lead role in a lawsuit that resulted in an infusion of more than $2 billion for public schools in Texas. He later served as lead counsel at trial and on appeal for a coalition of 88 school districts in a second lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system.

Mark is a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and the American Law Institute. He recently served as the chair of the Houston Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section and currently serves as an officer with the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society and with Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists (TACTAS). Mark is also dedicated to his community, previously serving as the chair of the Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League and on the Education Policy Committee of the United Way of Greater Houston.

Mark writes and speaks prolifically on a variety of topics, with a recent focus on arbitration issues, brief writing, and Fifth Circuit and Texas Supreme Court trends. He is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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  • After being hired post-verdict to handle the appeal of the largest actual damages award for an injured worker in Texas history, we persuaded the trial court to grant a historic $117 million remittitur, reducing the plaintiffs' award  from $353 million to $235 million. Then, after the filing of our opening appellate brief, we obtained a mediated settlement for a fraction of the original verdict. 
  • Persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to deny review of a petition seeking reversal of sizable products liability judgment.
  • In a case involving numerous overlapping arbitration awards, persuaded the Court to confirm the most favorable awards, reject the opposition's vacatur arguments, and enter a partial final judgment awarding our clients $99 million for their fiduciary duty, professional malpractice and conversion claims.
  • Persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to deny review of two separate petitions for review (and a motion for rehearing) in an oil-and-gas dispute about the scope of a tax foreclosure deed.
  • Persuaded the court of appeals to vacate a $7 million arbitration award on the basis of evident partiality.
  • Persuaded the Austin Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s orders dismissing Travis Central Appraisal District’s lawsuit on pleas to the jurisdiction. As a result, TCAD may proceed with its challenge to the Appraisal Review Board’s $20 million reduction to TCAD’s appraisal of a major commercial property in Austin.
  • Persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to grant mandamus relief enabling the client to obtain discovery from third-party medical providers regarding amounts and rates paid or incurred by patients who were similarly-situated to plaintiffs. This discovery was sought in connection with client's defense against plaintiffs' multi-million-dollar damage claims for past medical expenses.
  • Persuaded Fifth Circuit to affirm a take-nothing summary judgment in favor of fracking engine manufacturer in products liability action seeking $15 million in damages arising from fire at a wellsite.
  • Represented in the trial court and Fifth Circuit a partner at a major law firm who had rendered an arbitration award that was later vacated by the district court, based on allegations that had acted improperly in agreeing to serve as an arbitrator. Our client sought to intervene in the lawsuit to address the district court’s factual misstatements and participated in the appeal. The Fifth Circuit reversed the trial court’s vacatur and held that our client had not acted improperly, providing complete vindication to his reputational interest.
  • Persuaded the Texas Supreme Court to vacate a $16.5 million judgment and deny injunctive relief in a highly contentious trade secret dispute. The suit was filed after the assets of a partnership, EMC Products, LP, were sold to our client VHSC in a foreclosure sale. Following the foreclosure, EMC Products, LP and related parties obtained a judgment against VHSC (and other defendants) for allegedly appropriating EMC’s trade secrets and tortiously intefering with its contracts. A six-year long appellate battle culminated in the Texas Supreme Court's opinion reversing the judgment and rendering a take-nothing judgment in favor of VHSC. More information about the case can be found here.
  • Successfully defended Tokai Carbon, Ltd. against one of its principal competitors, Orion Engineered Carbons, LLC, defeating a request for a temporary injunction that could have negatively impacted Tokai’s business. Following a full-day hearing and a post-hearing briefing, a Harris County court found that Orion’s application for temporary injunction “is without merit in all respects and should be denied.”
  • Represented client injured on the job in a unique "appellate arbitration" proceeding arising from a $15 million arbitration award in our client's favor. After the defendant-employer appealed the initial award to a second arbitrator (per the parties' arbitration agreement), Haynes and Boone briefed and argued all appellate issues and secured a full affirmance of the initial award.
  • In this ERISA stock drop case, persuaded the district court to dismiss the plaintiffs' second amended class action complaint for failure to state a claim under the Supreme Court's heightened pleading standard for ERISA breach of fiduciary actions.
  • Obtained multi-million dollar settlement of client's indemnity claims against primary and excess insurers arising out of personal injury settlements paid out by our client. Our client's hand was significantly strengthened by obtaining the dismissal of the insurers' declaratory judgment claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and through rounds of summary judgment briefing in support of our client's own claims.
  • Defeated class action bid for AT&T in a suit in federal court in Houston brought by property owners alleging that AT&T telephone cable buried underneath their properties — pursuant to easements that had been granted to AT&T in the 1950s — were contaminating their properties.
  • Persuaded a federal district court to grant our client's motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ lawsuit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff had brought the lawsuit seeking a declaration that it owed no indemnity for personal injury settlements paid out by our client because the contract containing the indemnity had terminated. The motion to dismiss centered on whether the underlying contract was a maritime contract giving rise to the court's admiralty jurisdiction. In a 30-page opinion, the district court agreed with our client that the contract was not maritime, and thus that it had no admiralty jurisdiction over the dispute.
  • In this ERISA stock drop case, persuaded the district court to dismiss the plaintiffs' second amended class action complaint for failure to state a claim under the Supreme Court's heightened pleading standard for ERISA breach of fiduciary actions.
  • Member, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • Past Chair, Appellate Subcommittee of the Business and Corporate Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association's Business Law Section
  • Past Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Houston Bar Association
  • Member, Executive Committee of the Yale Law School Association, 2015-2017
  • Member, American Law Institute (ALI)
  • Board member and officer, Texas Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Board member and officer, Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists
  • Board member, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, 2017-2018
  • Board member, The Houston Lawyer editorial board, 2005-2011
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Member, Education Council, United Way of Greater Houston
  • Frequent speaker at State Bar and Houston Bar Association Continuing Legal Education programs, on a variety of topics, including arbitration-related litigation, the Texas Supreme Court, school finance litigation, and oil and gas law
  • Past chair, Anti-Defamation League, Southwest Region
  • Special Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline 
  • Recognized as a “Lawyer of the Year” – Appellate Practice – in Houston in The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward/White, Inc., 2023
  • Chambers USA, Chambers and Partners, Litigation– Appellate Practice – in Houston: Appellate, Texas, 2019-2023
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward/White, Inc., for Appellate and Commercial Litigation, 2016-2024
  • Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  • Recognized in 2022 for having been included in Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, top-attorney lists for 10 years or more
  • Recognized as one of the top 100 lawyers in Texas by Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2020-2023
  • Recognized as one of the top 100 lawyers in Houston by Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2016-2023
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2013-2023
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Edition, Thomson Reuters, 2004-2013
  • Named a Future Star in Benchmark Litigation, Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, 2013-2022
  • Profiled in cover article of 2010 Texas Super Lawyers magazine - Rising Stars Edition, Thomson Reuters, 2010

Education

J.D., Yale Law School, 1998, Editor, Yale Law Journal

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1994, summa cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa

Clerkships

Law Clerk, the Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas (1998-99)

Admissions

Texas

Court Admissions

United States Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

Press Release
Haynes Boone Wins Precedent-Setting Workers' Compensation Appeal for ExxonMobil
February 29, 2024

Haynes and Boone, LLP secured a significant victory for ExxonMobil in the Houston Fourteenth Court of Appeals. The court’s decision established the company has immunity from more than 20 personal injury claims while also setting a crucial precedent with implications for Texas employers and premises owners. The case stems from claims brought by employees of subcontractors injured at an ExxonMobil p [...]