Martin J. Phipps is a trial lawyer who bases his life on the small- town values he learned as a boy growing up in Breckenridge, Texas. Martin learned early that nothing of value ever comes easily. He grew up in a small rural town in West Texas as part of a working-class family, the oldest of 6 children. He began working at the age of 12 to support his family. Martin attended Texas Tech University working full-time at Central Freight Lines to pay for his education. After graduating from St. Mary’s University School of Law, Martin began his legal career with DAVIS ADAMI CEDILLO INC.
Throughout his career, Martin’s success has been guided by the simple notion that we must always do what is right, not what is easy or what is popular. Honesty. Integrity. Character. These are the values that matter. As the founder and managing partner of PHIPPS DEACON PURNELL PLLC in San Antonio, Texas, Martin has put these principles into practice.
In 1996, Martin was still a young associate when his firm was retained as local counsel for the Chicago law firm of BARTLIT BECK in a case titled Chromalloy v. Pratt & Whitney. It was a billion- dollar anti-trust lawsuit. Martin was sitting in the back of the courtroom listening to the best lawyers in the country arguing on both sides when he first realized that even a small-town kid had the ability to compete with the best. Over the next few years, he successfully tried hundreds of cases on behalf of Fortune 500 businesses all over South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
Martin’s early successes in the courtroom and love of trial advocacy led him to a teaching position at St. Mary’s University where he created the law school’s External Advocacy Program. For 10 years, Martin spent his evenings coaching the mock trial team, leading the school to many of its first national titles.
Martin has tried and won cases against many of the best law firms from across the United States including BARTLIT BECK and KIRKLAND. In 2006, Martin began representing rice farmers from across the country whose livelihoods were devastated when Bayer CropScience’s (Bayer) unapproved genetically modified rice contaminated the U.S. rice supply. Martin filed and managed lawsuits on behalf of nearly 14,000 rice farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi seeking economic damages for the resulting loss of the European rice market.
Martin was the lead trial lawyer for thousands of clients with lawsuits pending against Bayer in Arkansas state court. He tried the first state court case in the nation in Woodruff County, Arkansas on behalf of a small rice farmer. In 2010, Martin obtained the highest per acre damages awarded by a jury in the U.S., the only jury finding that Bayer acted intentionally in contaminating the long grain rice supply and the first punitive damages award in the nation against Bayer.
After a second successful jury trial in his favor, Martin was set for trial every 3 to 4 months in Arkansas state courts. However, in February 2011, Bayer settled all of Martin’s state court farmer cases under the same terms of a global settlement for a total of $750,000,000—the largest agricultural settlement in U.S. history— with Martin’s clients receiving $50 million more than any other lawyer or law firms.
Martin is currently Co-Lead Counsel and Lead Trial Counsel for the State of Illinois in the Syngenta Corn Litigation that resulted in a $1.51 billion-dollar settlement. Martin was the lead lawyer, representing over 20,000 farmers in 37 states in litigation that centers on the willful and negligent conduct of global agribusinesses that sold genetically modified corn seed without getting necessary regulatory approval from major foreign markets.
Martin also is also Lead Trial Counsel in cases pending in Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana brought by ethanol plants against Syngenta for similar misconduct.
Martin is currently Lead Counsel in a commercial land development dispute with over $280 million dollars in damages as part of the new Texas A&M Campus known as the Verano Land located in San Antonio, Texas.
Martin is Lead Trial Counsel in cases pending in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas that involve minors who suffered catastrophic brain damage after consuming synthetic marijuana marketed and sold by local gas stations.
Martin has been Lead Trial Counsel defending several companies and their Board or majority owners when minority shareholders attempt a hostile takeover of the company. We call them “bet-the-company” cases and for some reason, Martin loves them.
When the opioid epidemic began, Martin was approached by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to lead the inquiry into whether they should bring a lawsuit against the Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors. After researching and reviewing evidence and literature from around the United States, Martin was selected as Lead Trial Counsel for Bexar County. Bexar County was hit hard by the opioid epidemic due to its large military and retirement community. Martin is also Lead Counsel or Co-Lead Counsel for many other Texas counties including Nueces County.
Martin was then contacted by several other states and represents many counties throughout New Mexico and Utah.
Today, Martin manages a team of 14 lawyers and over 150 support staff at a law firm that he literally built from the ground up—it is housed in a building designed by Martin and a local architect, located along San Antonio’s famous River Walk. The San Antonio Express-News recognized the Firm as one of the top workplaces in San Antonio.
Martin has no hobby other than his two children whom he one day hopes will attend his beloved, Texas Tech University.