Alaina King Benford is a trial-tested litigator with nearly two decades of experience trying cases in state and federal courts.  Clients of all sizes turn to her as a trusted advisor based on her experience in multi-party cases involving complex disputes across a range of industries including the energy, mining, commodities and transportation sectors.  Alaina has helped clients navigate all aspects of litigation, including fact and expert discovery, temporary and permanent injunctions, alternative dispute resolution, dispositive motion practice, arbitration and of course, trial.

Alaina regularly represents and defends global energy companies, pipeline companies, municipal and transportation authorities in cases involving commercial disputes, pipeline and industrial safety, construction, eminent domain and condemnation, real estate and land use, and wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury matters arising from incidents on vessels, platforms and drilling rigs. Whether the case involves the Outer Continental Shelf, international waters, oilfields, refineries, industrial facilities, rural or urban areas, she’s prepared. Clients appreciate the hands-on attention Alaina provides and her willingness to learn her clients’ operations by visiting their facilities, refineries and oilfields and even staying overnight on offshore drilling rigs and platforms. She’s been there and done that.

Alaina is part of a small group of lawyers in Texas with extensive experience representing entities involved in acquiring easements, property and rights-of-way for large projects involving pipelines, water pipelines and transportation projects.  After advocating for clients in more than 100 eminent domain and condemnation matters from project inception through trial, it’s no wonder that international and national energy companies, governmental entities and property owners turn to and rely on Alaina’s insight and experience.

Before joining Jordan, Lynch & Cancienne, Alaina was an associate and partner at Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP for 18 years.  Alaina is excited to add her strong advocacy skills and commitment to client service to the JLC team approach to solving clients’ legal challenges.

 

EDUCATION

Thurgood Marshall School of Law, J.D., 2000

Honors and Activities:  Magna cum laude, Editor-in-Chief of the Thurgood Marshall Law Review; American Jurisprudence Awards for achieving the highest grade in Contracts, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Procedure; Recognized for best oral argument in Appellate Litigation

Texas Southern University, BBA, Business Administration in Marketing, 1993

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS
Commercial and Energy Litigation:
  • Currently representing global specialty chemical manufacturing company in pipeline safety matter involving heavy construction near its above-ground hydrogen chloride pipeline.
  • Recently defended world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company in AAA arbitration breach of contract dispute filed by terminated chemical facility operator. Panel bifurcated hearing upon our motion resulting in our client’s claims being heard first; case settled on eve of first hearing.
  • Recently resolved pipeline construction dispute for one of the largest pipeline master limited partnerships in the United States when prime contractor received payment but defaulted on $9 million in payments to subcontractors.
  • Assisted multi-national oil company in successful appeal of 100-year-old title dispute brought by 40 plaintiffs seeking production income from or oil and gas interests in South Texas.
  • Quieted title on Dubai-based development company’s Galleria area multi-million-dollar commercial property encumbered with a deed of trust lien obtained through fraud.
  • Defended insurance company in jury trial against claims by owner of 250-unit apartment complex for breach of contract, violation of Texas Insurance Code’s statutory duty of good faith for tropical storm related mold damage in excess of $4 million.
  • Defended construction contractor in multi-party breach of contract case brought by world’s largest communications holding company for damage to fiber optic cables during construction of $70 million toll road; obtained favorable settlement.
  • Lead counsel in interpleader action of commercial building owner in multi-party suit brought by party seeking sequestration of large medical imaging machines leased by tenant in the building where sequestration required the removal of the side of the building.
  • Defended pipe manufacturer sued for breach of covenant not to compete; obtained favorable settlement.
  • Lead counsel for management company of large apartment complex sued for wrongful death and premises liability by the family of a tenant killed by another tenant on the premises; obtained favorable settlement.
  • Lead counsel in jury trial defending property seller against claims for DTPA violations, breach of contract and statutory fraud in a real estate transaction for alleged failure to disclose flooding on the property; obtained defense verdict and award of attorneys’ fees.
  • Lead counsel for upscale custom home builder sued for breach of contract and negligence related to hurricane damage to structure under construction; obtained summary judgment.
  • Tried 14 cases to jury verdict, obtaining favorable verdicts in 13, involving Health and Safety Code violations as Prosecutor-on-Loan to City of Houston Municipal Court.

 

Eminent Domain and Condemnation / Easement Acquisition:
  • Obtained verdict in favor of largest natural gas-only distribution company in the United States as lead counsel in jury trial of three petitions for bill of review in condemnation cases involving natural gas storage facility.
  • Obtained verdict in favor of joint venture LLC in bench trial on issue of company’s right to condemn property for crude oil pipeline as a common carrier. Trial court judgment affirmed by 11th Court of Appeals in July 2016.
  • Acquired easements and rights-of-way and handled pre and post construction disputes for joint venture’s 300,000 barrel-per-day 20″ crude oil pipeline spanning 450 miles from Colorado City, Texas to the refining market along the Houston Gulf Coast.
  • Acquired fee title to numerous tracts of property through condemnation for transit authority’s 7-mile expansion of its light rail transit system.
  • Represented world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company in dispute over the company’s right to condemn an easement where the property owner argued that the company exceeded its authority and the taking severed the subject property; obtained summary judgment.
  • Acquired multiple easements in condemnation proceedings for a major North American energy merchant for the construction of a 33-mile extension of an NGL pipeline into the Barnett Shale producing region in Texas and a second NGL pipeline from Hull, Texas to the company’s Mont Belvieu NGL hub.
  • Acquired numerous easements and rights-of-way for owner/operator of one of the largest common carrier pipelines of refined petroleum products and liquefied petroleum gases in the United States for the construction and operation of a common carrier pipeline.
  • Represented a municipal utility district in the acquisition of multiple easements for the construction and improvement of a drainage system for storm water, floodwater and treated sewer water in Fort Bend County, Texas.
  • Represented a regional water authority in acquiring permanent easements and rights-of-way to construct and install pipelines to provide water for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural uses in Harris County, Texas.
  • Represented a levee improvement district in the acquisition of easements for the purpose of improving a levee system and reconfiguring a right-of-way.
  • Represented Houston’s largest not-for-profit hospital system in state’s condemnation of the hospital’s property for freeway expansion.

 

Energy-Related Catastrophic Injury Defense Litigation:
  • Lead defense counsel for world’s largest multi-national oil company in wrongful death claim related to drowning near refinery; obtained summary judgment.
  • Lead defense counsel for third largest energy company in the United States in multi-party wrongful death claim stemming from a platform explosion in international waters; obtained favorable settlement.
  • Lead defense counsel for casing contractor in multi-party litigation for claim of damages related to catastrophic personal injury to worker on offshore drilling platform; obtained favorable settlement.
  • Represented drilling contractor in wrongful death suit involving the explosion of a pressurized well head system (“frac stack”).
  • Lead defense counsel for port authority against worker’s premises liability claim for personal injuries; obtained summary judgment.
  • Lead defense counsel for port stevedoring company against wrongful death and survival claims resulting from a laborer’s exposure to asbestos.
  • Deposed over 75 plaintiffs and fact witnesses over 2-year period in defense of one of the world’s largest engineering, procurement and construction contractors in multi-party litigation involving wrongful death and injury claims due to exposure to asbestos and silica.
COURT ADMISSIONS

Texas State Bar

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

HONORS & AWARDS

Graduate of the American Board of Trial Advocates National Trial Academy

Norton Rose Fulbright 2016 Global Inclusion Award

Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2015, Houston Woman Magazine, 2016

Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Law – Houston, National Diversity Council, 2017

Houston’s Most Influential Women Lawyers, Women Looking Ahead Magazine, 2011

Houston’s Top Lawyers, Business Litigation, H Texas Magazine, Bayou City Publishing, 2008

Who’s Who in Black Houston: The Inaugural Edition, Who’s Who Publishing Company, L.L.C., 2007

Texas Rising Star, Thomson Reuters, 2006

PUBLICATIONS & SPEECHES

Co Author, “Supreme Court of Texas Raises the Bar for Qualifying as a Common Carrier Pipeline,” Fulbright Alert, March 5, 2012

“Terminating Easements Due Diligence,” Lorman Education Services Webinar, October 5, 2016

“Factors in Drafting Effective Easements,” Best Practices for Right of Way Processes for Electric Transmission Conference, EUCI, San Diego, California, September 19-20, 2016 (Speaker and Seminar Chair)

“Eminent Domain of Oil Pipelines,” Association of Oil Pipe Lines 2016 Annual Business Conference, Chicago, Illinois, September 15, 2016

Keynote speaker, University of Houston Law Center Pre-Law Pipeline Program Closing Ceremony, Houston, Texas, July 29, 2016

“Pipeline Infrastructure and the Changing Landscape of Transporting Energy Resources,” Thurgood Marshall School of Law Energy Symposium, Houston, Texas, October 1, 2015

“Critical Considerations for Easements on Agricultural Land,” 5th Annual Improving Right of Way Processes for Electric Transmission Projects Conference, EUCI,  Phoenix, Arizona, September 24-25, 2015 (Speaker and Seminar Chair)

“Opting In: Balancing Work and Life,” Norton Rose Fulbright Women’s Energy Conference moderator, Houston, Texas, October 1, 2015

“Eminent Domain of Oil Pipelines,” Association of Oil Pipe Lines 2015 Annual Business Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, September 17, 2015

Gender and Racial Bias in Partnership and Pay – School, Firm and Business Perspectives program panelist, American Bar Association TIPS, University of Houston Law Center, February 5, 2015

“Critical Considerations for Easements on Agricultural Land,” 4th Annual Right of Way Processes For Electric Transmission, EUCI, Indianapolis, Indiana, October 23, 2014

“Texas Eminent Domain Law and Pipelines,” National Business Institute Seminar on Eminent Domain From Start to Finish, Houston, Texas, May 20, 2013

“Defense Counsel’s Perspective on Oil & Gas Litigation,” Texas Wesleyan Law Review’s Fifth Annual Energy Symposium, Fort Worth, Texas, March 21, 2013

“Lessons Learned on Linear Projects,” 58th Annual International Right of Way Association International Education Conference, Seattle, Washington, June 12, 2012

“Is it a Taking if My Property Hasn’t Been Taken?” South Texas College of Law, 27th Annual Real Estate Symposium, Houston, Texas, June 8, 2012

“U.S. Energy Policy,” Moderator, Thurgood Marshall Law Review Energy Symposium, Houston, Texas, March 29, 2012

“Pipeline Perspective on Texas Land Rice Partners v. Denbury Green Pipeline,” CLE International’s 11th Annual SuperConference on Eminent Domain, Austin, Texas, February 9, 2012

“Pipeline Condemnations: An Update on Valuation, Corridors and the Nature of Pipeline Easements,” CLE International’s 2nd Annual Eminent Domain Conference, Houston, Texas, June 23, 2011

“Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights,” In-house client presentations, Houston, Texas, 2008

PRO BONO/COMMUNITY

International Right of Way Association

American Bar Association

National Bar Association, Commercial Law Section

Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow

Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), Fellow

Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow

Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Forum, Spring 2012 Class

American Board of Trial Advocates National Trial Academy, Graduate (2011)

State Bar of Texas

District 4 Grievance Committee (2006 – 2012)

Texas Association of Defense Counsel

Houston Bar Association

Houston Lawyers Association

Houston Young Lawyers Foundation, Fellow

Women’s Energy Network

The Ensemble Theatre, President of Board of Directors (2015 – present)

Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH), Board of Directors (2011 – present)

Association of Women Attorneys Foundation, Board of Trustees (2016 – present)

The Rise School, Board of Directors (2013 – 2016)

Annunciation Orthodox School, Board of Trustees (2009 – 2015)

The Downtown Group, Liaison (2008 – 2009)

(Networking Organization of 200 African-American Women Lawyers in Harris County, Texas)

United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast

Project Blueprint, Class XXVI (2006)

American Association of University Women (2002 – 2005)

Selected Professions Panel Chair for Law
(Organization that annually awards over a million dollars in fellowships to women pursuing advanced degrees in fields where women are underrepresented)