Thomas Watson is a principal in the Los Angeles office of McKool Smith Hennigan. Thomas’ primary experience is in the trial and arbitration of complex civil cases with an emphasis on business litigation, energy litigation, securities litigation, bankruptcy litigation, patent litigation and the False Claims Act. He has represented a variety of Fortune 500 companies, investment firms and hedge funds, high tech companies, energy companies, and high-net-worth individuals.
Thomas’ practice takes him to federal and state courts across the country, and he has had numerous successful trials, including both federal and state multiweek jury trials. He is also experienced in representing clients in arbitration, including both U.S. and international arbitration.
His experience includes the successful defense of Sempra Generation following a four-week jury trial in a case brought by the California Department of Water Resource claiming fraud and breach of contract involving a $6.6 billion long-term energy contract that the state signed as part of then-Governor Davis’s response to the California energy crisis. Thomas also successfully defended Sempra Energy in an arbitration brought by Occidental Energy Ventures Corp., in which Occidental claimed damages for breach of fiduciary duty relating to the joint development of a power plant.
Thomas won a judgment plus post-confirmation interest in a dispute involving a “no call” provision under a bond indenture favor of Pacific Investment Management Company (“PIMCO”), Deutsche Asset Management, and Castlerigg Master Investments following a bench trial before the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Mississippi. The Bankruptcy Court’s 107-page opinion is a leading authority on the enforceability of “no call” provisions and prepayment premiums in bankruptcy cases.
Thomas' False Claims Act experience includes representing individuals who blow the whistle on fraud committed against the government as well as representing government entities seeking to recover for fraud. He has represented, as part of a team of lawyers, two whistleblowers in connection with two qui tam lawsuits brought against HCA Inc., then the nation’s largest for-profit healthcare provider, for Medicare cost-report fraud. As a result of the team’s efforts, a substantial amount was recovered on behalf of the United States in the litigation, and the whistleblowers received an unprecedented share of the recovery.
Thomas is very active politically in the community and serves on a number of boards. He also speaks French, Czech, and Ukrainian.
- Represented Pope Investments LLC in efforts to collect on a guarantee in connection with investments made in Macau (N.Y. Supreme Ct. 2013).
- Represented a wood flooring company and its principals in defense of an action for breach of an investment advisory contract and prosecution of counter-claims for misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty (Arbitration 2012).
- Represented Walker Digital LLC in patent litigation concerning Microsoft Office against Microsoft Corp., Dell and Hewlett Packard (C.D. Cal. 2012).
- Represented Walker Digital LLC in patent litigation concerning the Powerball lottery against the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) (S.D. Ind. 2011).
- Obtained a significant judgment plus post-confirmation interest in a dispute involving a “no call” provision under a bond indenture for Pacific Investment Management Company (“PIMCO”), Deutsche Asset Management, and Castlerigg Master Investments (Bankr. Ct., S.D. Miss. 2010). Premier Entertainment Biloxi LLC (D/B/A Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi) v. U.S. Bank et al., 2010 Bankr. LEXIS 2994 (U.S. Bankr. Ct. S.D. Miss. 2010).
- Obtained a jury verdict in favor of Sempra Generation on all counts in a $6.6 billion case brought by the California Department of Water Resources following a four-week jury trial (San Diego Superior Ct. 2009).
- Successfully resolved claims for breach of contract brought by AT&T Corp. on behalf of Skillgames Inc., a high tech startup whose business was severely impacted by 9/11 (N.Y. Supreme Ct. 2006).
- Successfully resolved a dispute with TransCanada American Investments Ltd. over a right of first refusal to acquire a transnational natural gas pipeline on behalf of Gasoducto Bajanorte, S. de R.L. de C.V. (Arbitration 2004).
- Successfully resolved a dispute involving a dispute involving misappropriation of trade secrets between Seagate Technology and Western Digital Corp. (State District Ct. Minn. 2004).
- Obtained an arbitration award in favor of Sempra Energy Resources in an arbitration brought by Occidental Energy Ventures Corp., in which Occidental claimed more than $100 million in actual damages for breach of fiduciary duty relating to the joint development of a power plant (Arbitration 2003).
- Represented two whistleblowers in two qui tam cases alleging that HCA Inc., then the nation’s largest for-profit healthcare provider, had inflated expenses for reimbursements claimed in annual Medicare “cost reports,” which resulted in HCA’s paying the United States a substantial amount to settle the cases and related Medicare fraud charges (Dist. D.C. 2002).
- Counseled Arthur Andersen in connection with the Hawaii Attorney General’s investigation of the Bishop Estate (1st Circuit Ct., Honolulu 2000).
Rankings & Honors
- Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers, 2008, 2009, 2011
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J.D., Georgetown University School of Law, 1995
Harvard University Pforzheimer Fellow, 1991-92
A.B., cum laude, Social Studies, Harvard University, 1991,
- State of California
- American Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association
- Los Angeles County Bar Association