Joseph A. Garnett

Joseph A. Garnett


Joe is a trial attorney with a diverse client mix. A typical day may find Joe’s time split between representing a software company defrauded by a major investor in a failed business deal to the defense of a Japanese excavator manufacturer in a severe crushing injury to the defense of a computer manufacturer sued for accounting fraud to the defense of a school district sued for causing the stress related death of a teacher. He even handled the appeal of a death row inmate’s capital murder conviction.

To achieve desired results for clients, Joe employs several methods of dispute resolution, including mediation (with or without a third party neutral) and arbitration. If these methods are unsuccessful, and a trial is required, Joe’s clients find that he is an exceptional pre-trial, trial, and appellate advocate. Joe first established his reputation as a trial lawyer when he won a landmark verdict in 1996 for a group of landowners who sued a natural gas storage facility for property damage caused by a gas explosion. The jury in that case awarded $143 million to the landowners, one of the largest punitive damage awards in Texas that year. He was interviewed about the case during a National Public Radio broadcast about the safety of underground storage caverns in Texas. Here is a link to the story and podcast.

Joe is recognized throughout the community as a gifted trial attorney and, based on the grading and comments of his peers, he was recognized in 2023 by his inclusion as a Top Rated Lawyer in Texas for the 12th year, a Texas Super Lawyer for the 16th time and a “Client Service All-Star.”

Joe is a native Texan from Brenham, Texas. He graduated with a Psychology degree from Texas A&M University in 1982 and a law degree from South Texas College of Law in 1985. He served a one-year appointment as a briefing attorney for The Supreme Court of Texas in 1986 and celebrated his 36th year at Pappas Grubbs Price PC where he is a shareholder. Joe is board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Joe is active in the State Bar of Texas and previously served on State Bar committees to develop jury submissions for civil trials and to coordinate legal aid for the homeless. He served a two year term as National Alumni President for his law school and has been an active fundraiser for the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University.

Joe has been married 41 years to his high school sweetheart and they are the parents of four grown children.

In his spare time, he likes to watch college sports, go to the movies and socialize with friends.

Community Activities

  • Board of Directors, South Texas College of Law (1997-1999)
  • Member, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (1998-1999)
  • National Alumni President, South Texas College of Law (1997-1999)
  • Member, Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts Development Council (1997 – present)
  • Advisory Board, Alzheimer’s Association (2008-2012)
  • Officer, Old Braeswood Homeowners Association (1997-2002)
  • Member, St. Vincent DePaul School Long Range Planning Committee (2007-2010)

Contact Joseph A. Garnett

Areas of Practice

Publications and Seminars

“Getting Control of Your Post – Accident Investigations, Including Dealing with OSHA” (Presentation at 2018 HCA Conference)

“On Edge of Houston, Underground Caverns Store Huge Quantities of Natural Gas Liquids.” Houston Public Media. Dave Fehling, October 19, 2015. Mr. Garnett is featured in a story that was broadcast on National Public Radio on October 19, 2015 about the safety of underground storage caverns in Texas. He discussed the events that led to the 1992 explosion of an underground storage cavern in Brenham, Texas and how the verdict from the lawsuit led to more stringent safety regulations. Here is a link to the story and podcast.

Property Insurance Case Law Update (RSUI Claims Seminar, June 2011)

Ten Worst Jurisdictions in the United States (Presentation to Bermudian Insurers, March 2011)

Taming the E Dragon: Controlling Costs, Avoiding Double Billing & Winning Fee Disputes for Duplicative E-Discovery in Litigation of All Sizes (Council on Litigation Management, March 2010 Conference).

“Surprise: Judge’s Hand out Most Punitive Awards.” Wall Street Journal. Jess Bravin, June 12, 2000. A study by the U.S. Justice Department found that judges award higher punitive damages than juries. Mr. Garnett’s verdict in the Brenham explosion case is featured as an example of a large punitive damage award by a jury.

“New Ruling Weakens Cap on Damages.” The Wall Street Journal. Mary Flood, November 4, 1998. Mr. Garnett was asked about the conservatism of Texas appellate courts at the time the Court of Appeals upheld the Brenham explosion case. He replied, “Only one or two in thirty cases of punitive damages awards are upheld because of the high bar from the Supreme Court and the conservative judiciary.”

Trial Tactics (South Texas College of Law 1996).

“Firms Told to Pay for Brenham Blast.” Houston Chronicle. George Flynn, February 13, 1996. Mr. Garnett is hopeful that his clients’ victory in the Brenham explosion case will prevent an explosion like this from happening again. Despite opposition to the reopening of the salt dome storage facility, Mr. Garnett said, “residents will never be sure if Seminole will try again to make it operational.”

Garnett and Pletcher, “What You Need to Know to Evaluate a Nonsubscriber Workers’ Compensation Case,” 11 Texas Personal Injury Law Reporter No. 1 (1993).

Insurance Contract Coverage Problems (State Bar of Texas: Advanced Workers’ Compensation Course 1991).

The New Workers’ Compensation Statute (State Bar of Texas: Advanced Workers’ Compensation Course 1990).

Business Fraud/Commercial Litigation

  • Multi-million dollar verdict for a company defrauded by an investor in a failed business deal.
  • Defense verdict for a software company on a claim of breach of employment contract by a former executive fired by the company.
  • Dismissal of a computer manufacturer from fraud claims in a multi-million dollar accounting fraud case.
  • Negotiated a confidential settlement in a significant amount for a terminated pilot from a major airline.
  • Favorable verdict for a lien-holder in a commercial lien foreclosure case.


  • Defense verdict for a transportation company driver in an auto/truck collision jury trial on negligence allegations in which the plaintiff suffered herniated disks and broken rib injuries and sought several hundred thousand dollars in damages; however, the jury only awarded a few thousand dollars.
  • Defense verdict for a vehicle manufacturer on claims of products liability, breach of warranty and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
  • Successful defense of construction and demolition companies in cases involving injuries and deaths caused by excavators and forklifts.

Dram Shop

  • Regularly retained by restaurants and bars to defend dram shop claims.
  • Successful defense of an Elks Lodge on a claim that an over-served bar patron severely injured another bar patron.
  • Successful defense of a sports bar on a claim that an over-served patron injured two individuals in a major automobile collision.

Energy Industry Disputes

  • Successful defense of a directional drilling company on a multi-million dollar claim of damage to a 30-inch natural gas liquids pipeline.
  • Multi-million dollar verdict for landowners damaged by a gas explosion occurring at a nearby natural gas liquids storage facility near Brenham, Texas.

Fire Loss

  • Two consecutive defense verdicts for a major computer manufacturer on products liability claims that a computer caused significant fire damage to a house.
  • Successful defense of a major battery manufacturer on products liability claims that consumer batteries caused significant fire damage to a house.
  • Favorable verdict for a business owner and a property insurance carrier for reimbursement of fire damages caused by a defective credit card reading machine.

Premises Liability

  • Regularly engaged by shopping malls and commercial property owners to defend serious cases involving breach of security.
  • Defense verdict in favor of a health club and its trainer on a claim that the trainer seriously injured a club member on the facility equipment.
  • Defense verdict for a commercial landowner who allegedly diverted the natural flow of rainwater resulting in the flooding of plaintiffs’ home.

Products Liability

  • Successful defense of a Japanese heavy equipment manufacturer in a case where Plaintiff was crushed when an excavator pinned him against a barge bulkhead.
  • Successful defense of a manufacturer on a claim that raw materials sold to make rubber end products caused respiratory injuries and memory loss.
  • Successful defense of an electrical connector manufacturer on the claim that an electrical connector failed causing a crane to drop a load killing a worker.

Personal Injury/Wrongful Death

  • Regularly retained by national and international manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors to defend high exposure and catastrophic loss personal injury and death cases.
  • Defense verdict for a Houston school district sued for causing the stress related death of a teacher.
  • Defense verdict for a steel erection company which allegedly caused serious injuries to a worker on a construction site.

Professional Liability

  • Successful defense of an architectural firm on a multi-million dollar claim of professional negligence for failure to detect structural damages during a commercial inspection of apartment buildings as part of a sales transaction.
  • Favorable verdict for an insurance agency which failed to place flood insurance on several buildings flooded during tropical storm Allison.
  • Defense verdict for an emergency room physician who allegedly failed to diagnose a female patient’s condition that resulted in sterilization.
  • Successful defense of a College Station hospital on a claim that it released an ER patient without a chaperone, who subsequently sustained a catastrophic head injury in a one-car accident.


  • Seminole Pipeline Co. v. Broadleaf Partners, Inc., No. 14-96-00825-CV, 1998 WL 723898, 979 S.W.2d 730, 142 Oil & Gas Rep. 338, Tex. App.–Houston (14th Dist., no writ), October 15, 1998.
  • Mroz v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., No. B14-90-00833CV, 1992 WL 41403, 826 S.W.2d 719, Tex. App.–Houston (14th Dist., no writ), March 5, 1992.
  • Klein Independent School Dist. v. Wilson, No. D-1701, 1992 WL 86366, 834 S.W.2d 3, Tex., April 29, 1992.


  • South Texas College of Law, (J.D., 1985)
  • Texas A&M University, (B.S., 1982, cum laude)

Legal Memberships

  • Member, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel
  • Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Member, State Bar of Texas

Honors and Awards

  • Briefing Attorney to Justice Sears McGee, The Supreme Court of Texas 1985-86
  • Board Certified: Personal Injury Trial Law
  • Texas Super Lawyer 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Panelist, Texas Super Lawyers Blue Ribbon Panel, 2012, 2013, 2017
  • Texas’ Top Rated Lawyers 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Top Rated Lawyer in Commercial Litigation 2013
  • Top Rated Lawyer in Business Litigation 2012
  • Top 3000 Leading Lawyers in America, 2010
  • Top 500 Plaintiffs Lawyers in America, 2007
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • AV Preeminent Rated, Martindale Hubbell


  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas