Quick Results
Professional Photo
Professionals

William Howard III

Shareholder

William H. "Bill" Howard III, shareholder in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge offices, concentrates his practice in tort and commercial litigation.

Featured Experience

Served as national counsel to a Class I railroad on hearing loss claims and regarding compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Federal Railroad Administration regulations regarding noise in the workplace.
Obtained a directed verdict on behalf of a defendant railroad in a wrongful death action arising out of a vehicle-train accident, with the court rejecting the plaintiff's allegations that the crossing was a dangerous trap, the crew failed to properly sound the horn and the train was traveling at excessive speed, among other things.

Represented a Class I railroad in numerous negotiations and trials of cases involving property rights disputes with owners of land abutting the railroad right of way.

Professional Biography

Overview

Mr. Howard has extensive experience in a wide variety of subject matters including property disputes, contract drafting and tort claims.

Mr. Howard served in the United States Air Force from 1973 to 1977, and from 1975 to 1977 as an officer in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard in Washington, D.C.

Representative Matters
  • Served as national counsel to a Class I railroad on hearing loss claims and regarding compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Federal Railroad Administration regulations regarding noise in the workplace.
  • Obtained a directed verdict on behalf of a defendant railroad in a wrongful death action arising out of a vehicle-train accident, with the court rejecting the plaintiff's allegations that the crossing was a dangerous trap, the crew failed to properly sound the horn and the train was traveling at excessive speed, among other things.
  • Represented a Class I railroad in numerous negotiations and trials of cases involving property rights disputes with owners of land abutting the railroad right of way.

  • A young switchman with small children was coupled up and crushed between two rail cars due to an unexpected reverse movement. He remained conscious during the lengthy extrication ordeal, dying days later of massive internal injuries. The client offered his wife $1.2 million direct to settle the case within days of the accident. The spouse turned down the offer, hired a well known plaintiff's FELA firm who made a $5 million demand, and three years of expert intense (train dynamics, physics, train handling) discovery ensued. Having developed a theory that would place significant fault on the decedent, the spouse, on the eve of trial, opted to take the offer that the railroad had made prior to the filing of the lawsuit.
  • Achieved a directed verdict for a railroad in a suit by a trespasser whose legs were amputated as he attempted to cross between two train cars and who alleged that the railroad knew persons were on the premises and had a duty to sound a horn or keep a look out for trespassers before moving.
  • Prosecuted claims on behalf of a railroad company in federal court based on a fuel distributor's misappropriation of millions of dollars worth of fuel through an ongoing conspiracy to defraud. Helped the railroad in its effort to persuade the local district attorney to file RICO and money laundering charges, and worked closely with railroad police to develop evidence of illegal accounting practices and other fraudulent activity.
  • Served as defense counsel for an employment discrimination/harassment lawsuit against a Class 1 railroad arising out of Maintenance of Way operations in southeast Louisiana. Summary judgment for the railroad company.
  • Appointed trial counsel to Class I railroad in "occupational exposure" cases, including hearing loss, asbestos, and repetitive stress (worn-out employee) claims filed by employees under the Federal Employers Liability Act. Several dismissed on summary judgment.

  • Putative national class action was filed on behalf of every transportation employee working for any one or more of the 5 Class I railroads in the United States seeking injunctive relief and money damages on the basis of allegations that the railroads were negligent and, in addition, conspired in failing to warn the employees against the hazards of exposures to toxic chemicals at railroad yards and at industrial plants. Originally working with a team of attorneys for all major railroads. Obtained dismissal of all but FELA claims, and plaintiff dismissed all railroads except client. After additional motion practice, plaintiffs dismissed all remaining claims.
  • Represented a railroad company sued under Louisiana law by a landowner seeking a declaration and related injunction to reinstall private crossings. Successfully removed the case and obtained dismissal of all claims with prejudice on the grounds that the claims were preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act.
  • Counseled a railroad client after a train car containing carbon black stopped on a bridge and dropped thousands of pounds of product due to a defective unloading valve. We worked with toxicologists to advise residents of the nature of the spill and the lack of significant health consequences. We then settled individual lawsuits and a putative class action brought against our railroad client, the shipper and others, at no expense to the client, with all legal fees and costs paid by the shipper's insurer pursuant to the shipper's insurance policy.
  • After Katrina, seven putative class actions were brought against our client alleging it damaged a flood gate near the Industrial Canal, contributing to the flooding of the City of New Orleans. Our client was not involved, and we were able to secure voluntary dismissals of all suits against our client without litigation and at minimal cost to the client.
  • Obtained summary judgment and affirmation by the Louisiana Supreme Court on behalf of a Class I railroad against a wrongful death claim resulting from a collision with a standing train, alleging failure to warn, inadequate signalization, dangerous trap, inadequate car conspicuity and negligence per se based on a violation of an anti-blocking ordinance.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of a railroad against a plaintiff's allegations of poor footing and improper handholds in connection with a fall from a tank car, on the theory that the Safety Appliance Act precluded the plaintiff's Federal Employers' Liability Act claims.
  • Working with four different law firms, represented a Class I railroad in litigation brought on behalf of putative class of over 12,000 persons allegedly damaged as a result of a catastrophic derailment resulting in a release of multiple hazardous substances over a period of several days. Liability issues concerned track inspection and maintenance. Claims included an allegation that Texas law applied and provided a punitive damage remedy. Trial court's certification of a class vacated by Fifth Circuit. Case ultimately settled on settlement class basis.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • Executive Committee Member – Combined Western and Southwestern Regions, National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
  • Member – American, Federal, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Orleans Bar Associations
  • Member – International Association of Defense Counsel
  • Member – DRI
  • Member – National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel (Southwest Region Vice President, 2012 – 2013)
  • Member – Mississippi and Louisiana Associations of Defense Counsel
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2007 in the areas of Mass Tort Litigation, Railroad Law and Transportation Law
  • Named the Best Lawyers' 2011 and 2019 New Orleans Railroad Law "Lawyer of the Year" 
  • Listed in Louisiana Super Lawyers in General Litigation (2015 – 2018); Transportation/Maritime (2019)
  • Recognized as a "Top Lawyer" in the areas of Railroad and Transportation Law, New Orleans Magazine (2010); Railroad Law (2012 – 2017); Environmental Law (2013) 
  • Named to "Leadership in Law", New Orleans CityBusiness (2007)

Education

  • University of Mississippi, J.D., 1980, Moot Court Board (Chairman)
  • Central Michigan University, M.A., 1976
  • Mississippi State University, B.A., 1973
    • Distinguished Military Graduate

Admissions

  • Louisiana, 1980
  • Mississippi, 1980

I can call him before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. and I get the same Bill every time. If he is doing something else during those times, I would never know it. If I have a question he is willing to answer, and he never makes me feel rushed. He also solicits my opinion. It’s a good team effort. I know at the end of the day we will have done everything we need to be prepared. I am thoroughly impressed. I learn something every time I talk to him.

Claims Representative at a major freight hauling railroad

Email Disclaimer

NOTICE: The mailing of this email is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Anything that you send to anyone at our Firm will not be confidential or privileged unless we have agreed to represent you. If you send this email, you confirm that you have read and understand this notice.
Cancel Accept