Michele Y. Smith Shareholder

Houston, Beaumont, Austin, San Antonio
  • t: 409-951-7736
  • MicheleSmith@MehaffyWeber.com

For more than 25 years, Michele Y. Smith has represented clients in complex litigation matters. Her practice has spanned a wide variety of areas including products and premises liability, pharmaceutical, and construction defect litigation. She has also represented a variety of businesses in sophisticated mass tort causes of action involving numerous chemical substances and exposures and has served on the coordinating team for the statewide defense of several clients. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and as the CLE Chair for the International Association of Defense Counsel, and will serve as Trial Academy Chair in 2022.

Michele is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and is well known in the legal community for her leadership skills across multiple legal organizations. She has served as a past president of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, a past president of the Jefferson County Bar Association, and a past president of the Jefferson County Young Lawyers’ Association. She is an Advocate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and currently serves on the board of the Lamar University Foundation. She also participates as a member of the Texas Pattern Jury Charge Committee for Products Liability.

Ms. Smith has also been honored with numerous accolades over the years. She has received the Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” award by U.S. News and World Report on four separate occasions, including for Product Liability Litigation – Defendants (2015), Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants (2017), Insurance Law (2017), and most recently Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants (2019). She has also received the President’s Award by the Texas Association of Defense Counsel (2010), and has been selected to the Texas Super Lawyers List by Thompson Reuters every year for over a decade (2005-2019). She has been honored by the Jefferson County Bar Association with the Cris Quinn Award (2014) and the Kenneth Lewis Professionalism Award (2019). She was named recipient of the St. Thomas More Award in 2017.

Outside of her work at MehaffyWeber, Ms. Smith dedicates time and energy to her community through volunteer work and pro bono legal services. Michele has served on the boards of several philanthropic organizations and volunteered at numerous events, including the Spindletop Spin bike ride to raise funds for legal-aid programs, the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, and the Shorkey Center, which offers physical rehabilitation services for children.

EDUCATION
  • Baylor University School of Law, J.D. (1992)
    • Member of the Order of the Barristers, Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society, and Moot Court Competition Finalist
  • Lamar University, B.B.A. in Accounting (1988)
  • State of Texas, 1992
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 2005
  • American Board of Trial Advocates Houston Chapter (2008 to present)
  • International Association of Defense Counsel (2006 to present)
    • Board of Directors (2019)
    • CLE Committee Chair (2019)
    • In House Law Firm Management Chair (2017 to present)
    • Annual Meeting CLE Chair (2017)
    • Trial Academy Faculty (2013)
    • Judicial, Legislative, Governmental Affairs Committee Chair (2009-2011), and Current Membership Vice-Chair
    • Hospitality Committee Co-Chair (2009-2010)
  • Association of Defense Trial Attorneys (2015 to present)
  • Defense Research Institute
    • State Representative, Southwest Region (2018 to present)
  • Texas Association of Defense Counsel (1993 to present)
    • President (2014-2015)
    • President-Elect (2013-2014)
    • Executive Vice President (2012-2013)
    • Trial Academy Co-Chair (2012)
    • Executive Committee Secretary (2011-2012)
    • Executive Committee Treasurer (2010-2011)
    • Vice President for Legislation (2009-2010)
    • Vice President for Programs (2007-2009)
    • Annual Meeting Program Chair (2007)
    • District Director (2004-2006)
    • Legislative Review Committee (1996-1997)
  • Texas Eastern Federal District Court, Local Rules Committee Member (2006-2007)
  • American Bar Association (1992 to present)
    • Member of the Litigation and Toxic Tort Sections
  • State Bar of Texas
    • Administration of Justice Committee Member
    • Pattern Jury Charge Committee in Products Liability Member
  • College of the State Bar of Texas
  • Litigation Council of America (2015)
  • Texas Young Lawyers’ Association (1992-2002)
  • Jefferson County Young Lawyers’ Association
    • President (2000-2001)
    • President-Elect (1999-2000)
    • Vice President (1998-1999)
    • Secretary (1997-1998)
    • Director (1995-1998)
  • Jefferson County Bar Association (1992 to present)
    • President (2011-2012)
    • President-Elect (2010-2011)
    • Secretary (1998-1999, 2007-2008)
    • Board of Directors (2001-2002)
  • Jefferson County Bar Foundation
    • President (2012-2013)
    • Board of Directors (1999-2001, 2010-2011)
  • Jefferson County Bar Association Auxiliary (1994 to present)
    • President (2003-2004)
    • Vice President (2001-2002)
    • Membership Chair (2000-2001)
    • Scholarship Committee Chair (1999-2000)
    • Teen Court Chair (1997-1998)
  • Jefferson County Pro Bono Program (1993 to present)
    • Spindletop SPIN Fundraiser (2008 to present)
    • Advertising Chair (2007-2010)
    • Fundraising Volunteer Chair (2006)
    • Fundraising Chair (2001)
  • Michelle F. Mehaffy Inn of Court, Master
    • Board of Directors (2006)
  • Teen Court, Volunteer (1994 to present)
  • Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation (1998 to present)
    • Membership Chair (2015 to present)
  • American Bar Association, Fellow
  • Super Lawyers
    • Selected to Texas Super Lawyers list by Thomson Reuters (2005-2019)
    • Selected to Texas Rising Stars list by Thomson Reuters (2005)
    • Selected to the “Top 100 List – Houston Region” List, Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters (2007-2010, 2012-2017)
    • Selected to the “Top 50 Women in Texas” List, Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters (2007, 2009-2017)
    • Selected to the “Top 100 List – Texas” List, Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters (2009-2010, 2012-2013, 2016)
    • Selected to Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition by Thomson Reuters in Civil Litigation Defense (2008-2010)
    • Selected to Super Lawyers Business Edition (formerly Corporate Counsel Edition) by Thomson Reuters in Civil Litigation Defense (2011-2014)
  • Best Lawyers®
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation (2019)
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Insurance Law (2016-2019)
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Litigation-Insurance (2018-2019)
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Mass Tort Litigation/Class Action-Defendants (2016-2019)
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants (2013-2019)
    • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Product Liability Litigation-Defendants (2013-2019)
    • Named the Best Lawyers® 2019 Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants “Lawyer of the Year”
    • Named the Best Lawyers® 2017 Insurance Law “Lawyer of the Year”
    • Named the Best Lawyers® 2017 Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants “Lawyer of the Year”
    • Named the Best Lawyers® 2015 Product Liability Litigation-Defendants “Lawyer of the Year”
  • Kenneth W. Lewis Professionalism Award, Jefferson County Bar Association (2019)
  • St. Thomas More Award (2017)
  • President’s Award, Texas Association of Defense Counsel (2010)
  • Cris Quinn Community Service Award, Jefferson County Young Lawyers’ Association (2014)
  • Lawyer of the Year, Jefferson County Young Lawyers’ Association (2002)
  • H Texas Magazine, Top Lawyer (2008-2009, 2012)
  • AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5.0 Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

 

  • “What’s Happening in the 84th Legislature & How it May Affect Your Practice,” TTLA and TADC Legislative Wrap-Up Luncheon, August 2015
  • “What’s Happening in the 84th Legislature & How it May Affect Your Practice,” Waco Inns of Court, April 2015 and TADC Spring Meeting 2015
  • “Tips for Dealing with the Difficult Lawyer,” Dallas Bar Association’s Judiciary and Legal Ethics Committee CLE, June 2014
  • “Demonstration of Direct Examination of Doug Li,” Texas Association of Defense Counsel, 2014 Trial Academy, March 2014
  • “Harris County Ad Litem Practice Panel, Defense and Plaintiff Perspectives,” Harris County Ad Litem Institute, February 2014
  • “Be the “Maverick” in Jury Selection,” Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Winter Seminar, February 2014
  • “Analysis of July 11, 2014 Texas Supreme Court Case of Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific,” by Michele Smith, Paul Heyburn and Michelle McPherson; IADC Newsletter, Toxic and Hazardous Substances Litigation Committee, August 2014

Daniel Williams and Jimmie Williams vs. The Dow Chemical Co.
Michele Smith, Art Almquist, Premises Liability

Michele Smith and Art Almquist working with attorneys from Kirkland Ellis won a victory for The Dow Chemical Company in a premises liability case in Brazoria County. Daniel Williams, aged 75, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005. Williams and his spouse sued Dow for negligence and gross negligence alleging that Mr. Williams’ cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace and that the workplace was unsafe. Dow Chemical contended that it operated its facility in a safe manner, that Mr. Williams’ asbestos exposures were minimal and his cancer was caused by his smoking history of at least 35 pack-years. At trial, plaintiffs argued for more than $5,000,000 in damages. The jury returned a verdict of no liability in favor of The Dow Chemical Company.

More Info: MehaffyWeber, Thomas Kuhns and Stacey Pagonis – Kirkland Ellis; Daniel Williams and Jimmie Williams vs. The Dow Chemical Co.; Cause No. 35769*RM05, 149th Judicial District Court, Brazoria County, Texas

 

Heritage Housing Development, Inc. v. Carr
Patricia Chamblin, William C. Little, Michele Smith, Personal Injury, Appellate

MehaffyWeber represented Heritage Housing Development in a lawsuit against

Velma Carr, the widow of a nursing home patient who brought a survival action against our clients, its parent corporation, and several individual employees. The suit resulted in a jury verdict against all defendants. A judgment awarded damages of $2,471,199.20 plus post-judgment interest. On appeal, the defendants’ primary contention was that there was no basis for sustaining a judgment against the parent corporation. This was important because, if the judgment against Heritage Housing Development were reversed, there would be no basis for an actual damage award in excess of one article 4590i statutory cap on damages. Carr conceded that there was no basis for recovery against Heritage Housing Development other than vicarious liability based on the negligence of the nursing home staff. The court of appeals held that there was no evidence to support the judgment of vicarious liability against Heritage Housing Development and reversed and rendered judgment for Heritage.

More Info: Heritage Housing Development, Inc. v. Carr, 199 S.W.3d 560 (Tex. App.Houston [lst Dist.] 2006, no pet.)

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