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Stern, Karl

Karl Stern

Direct Tel: +1 713-221-7171
Tel: +1 713 221 7000 Fax: +1 713 221 7100

Karl Stern joined Quinn Emanuel’s Houston Office in 2014. Karl is co-head of the firm’s Energy Practice and has over 30 years of extensive experience trying cases to juries, courts, and arbitrators within state and federal courts throughout the U.S. and before domestic and international arbitral tribunals. Many of his cases deal with complex transactions in the energy industry, which include joint ventures, international gas investments, gas and power trading and marketing, and the development, acquisition, sale and ownership of oil, gas, renewable energy, and power assets. Karl’s cases also involve mergers and acquisitions, finance, corporate, LLC, and partnership governance, and shareholder rights. The Best Lawyers in America has recognized Karl Stern from 2005-2020 in the practice areas of business litigation, alternative dispute resolution, antitrust, securities litigation, and m&a litigation, including naming him as 2016 Houston Lawyer of the Year in Mergers & Acquisitions Litigation.

  • Representing offshore drilling contractor in ICDR arbitration claim against Petrobras arising out of wrongful termination of a deepwater rig charter
  • Representing international oil and gas company in three federal actions involving a dispute arising out of rights relating to offshore leases

Financial, M&A, Governance, and Securities:

  • Represented Global Industries Board of Directors in class actions challenging the merger with Technip
  • Represented C&J Industries in class actions challenging inversion transaction with Nabors Industries
  • Represented Statoil in class actions challenging its Brigham acquisition.
  • Represented the publicly traded general partner of a master limited partnership (“MLP”) and certain of its directors in Delaware litigation challenging the $9 billion transaction in which the MLP acquired the general partner
  • Represented three private equity firms in Texas shareholder litigation over the terms of a management buyout of Kinder Morgan, Inc
  • Represented a publicly traded MLP in litigation in Delaware and Missouri challenging the MLP’s acquisition of its general partner
  • Prevailed in trial as lead defense counsel of mutual mistake claim against hedge fund relating to amendments of warrants resulting in rescission of issuance of $35 million worth of shares to defendant
  • Obtained dismissal of federal securities class action against a leading computer manufacturer and its officers and directors
  • Obtained dismissal of underwriting syndicate in federal securities class actions arising out of offerings by an internet venture
  • Defended breach of fiduciary duty claims against the directors of an MLP’s general partner challenging amendments to unit holder voting rights
  • Obtained summary judgment on state court claims against an investment banking firm by creditors alleging fraud in the National Gypsum Company bankruptcy
  • Obtained favorable settlement as lead plaintiff of cases filed on behalf of our client in Texas and England to enforce the client’s right to a share of Aston Martin as a participant in the consortium that acquired Aston Martin from Ford Motor Company
  • Defended investment banking firm in a $30 million lawsuit arising out of an unsuccessful effort to underwrite $200 million in tax exempt municipal bonds to finance an acquisition of several hospitals
  • Represented underwriter of securitized offering of sub-prime loans in jury trial on claim against company that issued “credit insurance” in connection with the offering
  • Successfully defended and prosecuted a number of cases involving claims by minority shareholders for breaches of fiduciary duty by majority shareholders
  • Successfully defended a breach of contract and fraud case arising out of valuation of shares in a closely held corporation; the case settled favorably after jury deadlocked
  • Defended suits against directors of failed financial institutions

Energy Industry & International Disputes:

  • Obtained take-nothing award in the defense of an ICDR arbitration of a $1.3 billion claim against our client arising out of the ownership and operation of an international gas and power trading and marketing company
  • Defending an oil trading company in class action claims for violations of the Commodities Exchange Act based on alleged manipulation of Brent Crude pricing
  • Defended a master limited partnership, its general partner, and the directors of the general partner in a
    state court fraud action arising out of $1.5 billion acquisition of oil and gas properties
  • Obtained a liability finding in favor of the claimant in the Canadian arbitration of a claim against a major oil producer for wrongful termination of a gas supply contract, which settled as the parties awaited a “baseball” style decision on damages
  • Defended energy company in state court action and related arbitration involving claims by joint venturers from a Russian oil and gas venture
  • Defended investment banking firm in jury trial of state court claims of alleged tortious interference with an off-take agreement between a bio-diesel producer and distillate trading company
  • Prevailed in a fast-track arbitration initiated by pipeline company client against minority owner of a jointly owned pipeline to resolve governance disputes that the minority owner was using to effectively block a $585 million recapitalization of the pipeline joint venture
  • Defended ICDR arbitration of claims based on alleged breach of fiduciary duties in the management of an energy trading joint venture
  • Prevailed in the defense of an AAA arbitration of a $9 million claim that power plant developer fraudulently induced claimant’s investment in the plant
  • Represented Lloyd’s of London and other international insurers in state court trial of $850 million in insurance coverage claims arising out of the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill
  • Defended $500 million claim against oil field services firm for alleged misappropriation of confidential information in connection with the development of an oil and gas field in Kazakhstan


  • Defended large global steel distributor in six-week jury trial of claims that steel distributors and steel mills conspired to boycott new entrant in the market
  • Defending oil trading company in class action involving claims that traders conspired to manipulate Brent Crude pricing in violation of the antitrust laws
  • Represented a building products distributor in an AAA arbitration in New York in connection with a pricefixing claim against the manufacturer
  • Defended a manufacturer of explosives in civil antitrust litigation
  • Defended a major airline in civil antitrust litigation
  • Provide advice to companies and trade associations in connection with antitrust issues

Other Commercial:

  • Defended company in state court and related arbitration over claim arising out of a tax sharing agreement in effect while client was a subsidiary of the defendant
  • Prevailed in trial of a $70 million dispute over the value of water rights on the Lower Colorado River
  • Defended Canadian energy company in federal court in Missouri in case in which plaintiff alleged breach of contract in connection with client’s acquisition of pipeline partnerships from a third party
  • Defended joint venture in AAA arbitration of $55 million claim arising out of the construction of a petrochemical facility
  • Prevailed in federal injunction action for a consortium of international construction companies, enjoining Venezuelan company from drawing $60 million letter of credit
  • Prevailed in jury trial representing plaintiff on claim for business interruption caused by train derailment into plaintiff’s business facility

Pro Bono:

  • Represented the class of all past, present, and future inmates in the Texas Department of Corrections in suit challenging mail rules


  • University of Texas
    (J.D., 1982)
  • Southern Methodist University
    (B.A./B.S., 1979)
  • The State Bar of Texas
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Courts of Appeals:
    • Fifth Circuit
  • United States District Courts:
    • Southern District of Texas
    • Western District of Texas
    • Northern District of Texas
  • Vinson & Elkins:
    • Managing Partner, Houston office, 2014
    • Firmwide Head of Litigation, 2011-14
    • Firmwide Head of Complex Commercial Litigation Practice Group, 2007-11
    • Management Committee, 2006-12
  • Named a “Local Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation, 2022
  • Named one of Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers, 2021
  • Named The American Lawyer’s “Litigator of the Week” for his work in Vantage Deepwater Co. et al. v. Petrobras America Inc. et al.
  • Ranked in Chambers USA in the categories of Litigation: General Commercial (2015-2017) and Litigation: Energy & Natural Resources (2018-2019)
  • Named 2016 Houston Lawyer of the Year in Mergers & Acquisitions by Best Lawyers
  • Named as 2015 Houston Lawyer of the Year in Antitrust Law by Best Lawyers
  • Named to the 2015 Top 100 Lawyers in Texas by Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters) 
  • Legal 500 U.S. "Leading Lawyer" in energy litigation, 2008 - 2016; securities shareholder litigation, 2013 and 2014; M&A litigation 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America® in commercial litigation, 2005 - 2022; alternative dispute resolution, 2006 - 2021; antitrust law, 2006 - 2022; securities litigation, 2013- 2022; arbitration, 2013 - 2022; mergers & acquisitions litigation, 2013 - 2022 (Woodward White, Inc.) 
  • Named by Euromoney's Benchmark Litigation as a “Local Litigation Star” in commercial litigation, international dispute resolution, oil and gas, and securities litigation, 2011 - 2016
  • "Partner to Know," Global Arbitration Review's GAR 100, 2009 (Law Business Research)
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers, 2003 - 2016 (Thomson Reuters) 
  • Speaker for professional seminars on securities, antitrust, and trial/arbitration skills topics
  • Member, International Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association, Antritrust and Litigation Sections
  • Chair of Antitrust and Business Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas (1999-2000)
  • Member, Federal Bar Association
  • Executive Committee, International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Chair (Former), Houston Bar Foundation