NPR partner Brad Beckworth is the co-head of the Firm’s Complex Litigation group. Brad joined the firm in 1998 after clerking for The Honorable Richard Schell, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Like many of our lawyers, Brad began his career with a hunger for trying cases to a jury for those who needed help. Brad grew up in Conroe, Texas, which was a small rural town at the time. He worked his way through high school and college, holding a variety of jobs like working on a commercial roofing crew, running a landscaping crew for a developer, and drying cars at a commercial car wash.
Brad took the lessons he learned working side by side with working class people into his early career at the Firm and volunteered to take just about any case he could to get in front of a jury. As a result, his early court room work included everything from trying pro bono cases for battered women and prisoners’ rights cases to complex personal injury trials. After winning several trials in his first few years, Brad won a major trademark case and then negotiated a complex licensing deal on behalf of our client. After that, Brad became a go-to trial lawyer for bet the company litigation.
Brad has never been afraid of handling something new. Together with co-head Jeff Angelovich, Brad created the Firm’s Institutional Securities Litigation and Energy and Natural Resource Litigation Practice. Brad’s first securities fraud litigation resulted in a $49.5 million settlement; his first gas royalty case resulted in a $155 million settlement; his first effort to represent an athlete resulted in an NFL first round draft pick. Over the last decade, Brad and Jeff’s team has made a number of significant recoveries across multiple practice areas.
Brad’s experience handling complex litigation also has led him to become an expert in crisis management and negotiating business solutions of all types—many of which are far outside the normal course of commercial litigation. The unique scope and diversity of Brad’s experience can be seen in three recent endeavors.
In 2013, Brad was asked to represent the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, in an enforcement action brought by the NCAA. The NCAA had a long history of arbitrary and capricious conduct against athletes where the NCAA has all the money, power, and leverage. Their game was, and still is, to make billions off student athletes while they get nothing but tuition in return. This double standard was never more brazen than in Manziel’s case where his alma mater (and Brad’s) fully funded a $450 million stadium in large part on his Heisman success, while the NCAA was selling Manziel’s #2 jersey’s on its website, using his name and likeness to defend itself in an antitrust case, and marketing its upcoming television season by using his likeness while paying him nothing. We put a stop to that. Brad brought the full force of the Firm’s crisis management and complex negotiation strategies to the table, an approach that had never been taken on behalf of a student athlete in defending against NCAA allegations. We successfully resolved the action with no admission of wrongdoing and a suspension of one-half of the season opening game. After that, Brad was tasked with leading Manziel’s business team as he entered the NFL draft. Brad led this team with a unique strategic approach that resulted in Manziel being the first quarterback under 6 feet being drafted in the first round in the modern era of the NFL.
In 2014, Brad joined a team co-headed by former federal judge Michael Burrage, the first Native American ever appointed to the federal bench, in a trust management dispute in The Chickasaw Nation and The Choctaw Nation v. United States Dept. of Interior, et al. The United States mismanaged over 1.3 million acres of timber lands belonging to the Nations. Before NPR was hired, the case lingered for almost a decade without getting past a motion to dismiss. In late 2014, Brad was asked to prepare the case for trial and try it with co-counsel. In an 8-month period, NPR conducted comprehensive fact and expert discovery—including analyzing millions of pages of historical trust related documents, taking or defending 37 depositions across the country, and engaging in a targeted national public relations campaign. NPR also played an integral role in settlement negotiations and the mediation process, which was overseen by court-appointed Special Master and former federal judge, John Robertson (Ret.). We completed this entire process in less than ten months. Ultimately, the case settled a week before trial for $186 million, the fifth largest settlement out of the 86 tribal trust actions filed to date. The settlement also included significant non-monetary concessions that will go on for years to benefit both Nation, and included a personal trip to Indian Country by the Secretary of Interior who apologized to both Nations on behalf of the United States.
And, in 2016, Brad tried to judgment what may be the most important royalty owner case ever tried in the State of Oklahoma. In Pummill et al. v. Hancock Exploration LLC et al, Brad and the NPR team teamed with co-counsel to try a declaratory judgment case for two royalty owners. We won a judgment in the royalty owner’s favor on all four key issues of Oklahoma royalty law. This judgment clarifies the duties oil and gas companies owe to all royalty owners in Oklahoma, which in turn has an economic impact in the billions.
Today, Brad continues to work on all areas of the Firm’s business, while also focusing on helping high profile clients with crisis management and reverse contingency business to business litigation.