Peyton N. Smith Partner

Peyton Smith is a Partner in the Labor & Employment Department. With a focus on employment law and defending employers in employment-related litigation, Peyton possesses more than 25 years of experience as a trial attorney, both as defense and plaintiffs' counsel, and brings unique insight and leadership to both pre- litigation counseling and the courtroom.

Considered by many of his clients as their outside general counsel, Peyton has extensive experience advising management on employment-related claims to minimize the possibility and risk of employment litigation, counseling clients on drafting employment policies and agreements, guiding clients on workplace safety issues, conducting employee investigations, and assisting with hiring, termination and other employment-related actions.

Though he has specific and lengthy experience in representing national retail, restaurant, hospitality, manufacturing and healthcare industry clients, Peyton represents employers in virtually every industry, enabling him to quickly identify and effectively address the unique problems and issues of a wide array of clients. As an experienced advisor and trial attorney, Peyton is a strategic and effective advocate who represents employers in the courtroom, at arbitrations and before administrative agencies. When employment claims lead to litigation, he implements a strategic and proactive defense strategy, aiming to efficiently win the case before trial through detailed investigation, aggressive discovery and pre-trial motion practice.

Peyton has lived and practiced law in Austin throughout his entire career. Before joining McGuireWoods LLP, he practiced law at an Austin-based business law firm, where he led the labor and employment practice group. Prior to that, he practiced at two large, Texas-based, national business law firms, where he served in multiple leadership roles.

Experience

Employment Litigation and Related Matters, including Nonsubscriber Litigation

Defense of national retailer in more than 20 state court lawsuits filed by employees for alleged unsafe workplace, negligence and gross negligence. Secured defense verdicts following jury trial or summary judgment in each lawsuit.

Defense of national restaurant chain in customer claims and litigation related to shigella food poisoning.

Defense of national grocery store retailer in claims by former employee of unsafe workplace, negligence, gross negligence and permanent disability. Secured directed verdict as to all claims after plaintiff’s counsel rested case. Secured jury verdict against former employee for counterclaims of fraudulent procurement of ERISA benefits and a verdict finding fraud with an award of attorney’s fees and court costs against the former employee and his counsel.

Defense of employee claims asserting wrongful termination, breach of contract, discrimination and retaliation under various federal and state laws.

Served as lead counsel in the defense of a nursing home for claims of negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death alleged by the family of a deceased former resident. Following two week jury trial, secured defense verdict as to all claims.

Defense of regional retailer in five states for employee and customer tort-based claims and litigation.

Defense of national retailer in trucking fleet wrongful death litigation.

Defense of national apartment company as to claims of negligence and gross negligence following propane gas range explosion injuring resident.

Drafting and advice on employment-related policies, employee handbooks, and employment contracts.

Advice and counsel regarding employee discipline issues, terminations, and reductions in force.

Training of supervisors and employees on the prevention of unlawful employment practices, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Employment Advice and Counsel, including Mergers & Acquisitions

Represented group of 80 anesthesiologists in contentious contract renewal negotiations, securing reformation of their compensation structure, and revising terms of their collective and individual employment agreements with parent company. The value of the transaction was in excess of $85,000,000.

Represented group of 32 anesthesiologists in contract renewal negotiations with parent company and revisions to their collective and individual employment agreements. Post-closing the transaction was valued at $40,000,000.

Served as outside general counsel for a health supplements company providing labor and employment advice and counsel, guidance on vendor and independent contractor issues, and partnering with President and CEO on addressing a myriad of business and legal issues faced by company.

Served as employment counsel in the representation of Intervale Capital, an energy-focused private equity firm, in the sale of a portfolio company, Epic Lift Systems, a leading provider of plunger lift, gas lift and complementary compression products, to Tally Energy Services.

Provided labor and employment advice and guidance and assisted in the sale of a California-based behavioral health company to a private equity client.

ERISA Litigation and Claims

Defense of ERISA group medical benefit plans in single and multi-plaintiff benefit disputes.

Provided advice and guidance to national retailers and restaurant chains concerning ERISA health plan-related issues and claims.

  • Baylor University, BA, Business Administration and Finance
  • Baylor Law School, JD, Phi Delta Phi

American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS), Vice Chair of the Self-Insurers and Risk Management Committee

Member, Austin Bar Association, Civil Litigation and Labor and Employment Law Sections

Member, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Member, Round Rock Chamber of Commerce

Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (LCA)

Member, State Bar of Texas, Labor and Employment Law Section

Board of Trustees, Texas Baptist Children’s Home, 2015-2019

  • Presenter, "Preventing Employee Injuries and Litigation," Employment Seminar, Dallas, Texas, October 2013
  • Speaker, "Social Media in the Workplace: The Five Hot Issues for Employers," Wal-Mart CLE Event, February 2013
  • Speaker, "Today's HR Mistakes - Tomorrow's Disasters: The Value of Good HR Practices," ALA Annual National Conference, April 2012
  • Speaker, "Preparing for Disaster: The Legal and Practical Considerations Employers Should Examine," 2006 PartnerSource Conference, October 2006
  • Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas

Named to "Texas Super Lawyers", Employment Litigation Defense, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2012, 2014-2018

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