James C. Winton

Partner

Houston
T +1.713.646.1304
F +1.713.751.1717

Overview

Jim Winton is a litigator who focuses his practice on maritime law, liquid pipeline transportation and general commercial litigation. With more than 35 years of experience, Jim brings a developed understanding of his clients’ industries to his representation. His dedication to each matter enables Jim to effectively address his clients’ concerns in a way that not only solves immediate issues but prevents the exacerbation of future difficulties.

Jim has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2009 in the area of admiralty and maritime law. He teaches a general maritime law course at the University of Houston Law Center.

Select Experience

Maritime/Admiralty
  • Served as lead attorney in a federal court case for a drilling contractor client. The contractor sued an operator to recover unpaid day rates against a declaration of force majeure following The Macondo Prospect. Defeated a $27.1 million counterclaim for breach of contract and recovered on claim.
  • Foreclosed on a First Preferred Ship Mortgage on a vessel against defenses of estoppel and waiver.
Oil Pipeline
  • Negotiated an easement for a pipeline across a wetlands preserve against a claim of trespass.
  • Acquired easements by negotiation and condemnation on properties across three rural counties in order to allow construction of a pipeline in time to meet contractual obligations and avoid penalties.
General Commercial
  • Represented a major manufacturer of heavy and medium trucks in national class actions alleging breach of franchise agreements.
  • Represented a number of clients on insurance coverage issues. Successfully defended findings by a trial court of coverage in two cases at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals under additional insured clauses.
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Experience

Maritime/Admiralty
  • Served as lead attorney in a federal court case for a drilling contractor client. The contractor sued an operator to recover unpaid day rates against a declaration of force majeure following The Macondo Prospect. Defeated a $27.1 million counterclaim for breach of contract and recovered on claim.
  • Foreclosed on a First Preferred Ship Mortgage on a vessel against defenses of estoppel and waiver.
  • Represented a Florida buyer of cargo of methyl ethyl ketone suing a Taiwanese seller for off-spec cargo carried by the vessel.
  • Defeated a Rule B Writ of Attachment against funds conditionally posted by a client relating to the international purchase, sale and transportation of iron ore.
  • Representing a client on a claim for damage to a vessel caused when a load of wind tower sections broke loose in heavy weather and caused damage to the ship.
  • Representing a shipper/seller of cargo of steel against claims of off-spec cargo and misrepresentations in the ocean bill of lading.
Oil Pipeline
  • Negotiated an easement for a pipeline across a wetlands preserve against a claim of trespass.
  • Acquired easements by negotiation and condemnation on properties across three rural counties in order to allow construction of a pipeline in time to meet contractual obligations and avoid penalties.
  • Defended 2,400 personal injury claims and three class actions against a pipeline company whose valve failed in a liquefied petroleum gas pipeline near a three-unit prison complex. The client ultimately settled for basic nuisance value of a few of the claims.
General Commercial
  • Represented a major manufacturer of heavy and medium trucks in national class actions alleging breach of franchise agreements.
  • Represented a number of clients on insurance coverage issues. Successfully defended findings by a trial court of coverage in two cases at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals under additional insured clauses.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2009 to 2018)
    • Houston: Admiralty & Maritime Law
  • Texas "Super Lawyer" (2008 to 2017)
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • State Bar of Texas: Director of the Year (2005)
    • Third Year Director of the Year (2005)
    • Presidential Citation (2005)

Memberships

  • Maritime Law Association of the United States: Proctor Member
  • Federal Bar Association: Southern District of Texas Chapter
    • Board of Directors (2002 to 2008)
    • Chapter President (2005)
  • State Bar of Texas
    • Texas Legal Protection Plan: Board of Directors (2006 to 2011)
    • State Bar of Texas Insurance Trust: Board of Trustees (2009 to present)
    • State Bar of Texas, Elected Member of Board of Directors (2002 to 2005)
    • Board Liaison to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Committee (2002 to 2003)
    • Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Committee: Appointed Member (2003 to present)

Community

  • Lakewood Yacht Club
    • Board of Directors (2008 to present)
    • Secretary (2007)
    • Fleet Captain (2014)
    • Rear Commodore (2015)
    • Vice Commodore (2016)
    • Commodore (2017)
  • Judith Liebenthal Robinson Ovarian Cancer Foundation
    • Founding Member and Board Member (2010)

Industries

Military Service

  • U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General's Corps (1978 to 1981)
    • Reserve Status (1975 to 1977, 1981 to 1996)
    • Final Rank: Lieutenant Commander
    • Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal

Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
  • Texas, 1988
  • California, 1977
  • District of Columbia [Inactive], 1980

Education

  • J.D., Southwestern University School of Law, 1977, magna cum laude, Law Review Editor
  • B.A., Political Science, University of Southern California, 1974, cum laude