"Well-behaved women seldom make history."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Collyn Peddie was born and grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Rice University in Houston Phi Beta Kappa, with honors, and a triple major. She then moved to Washington, D.C. to attend George Washington University, where she received her law degree with honors in 1982. In Washington, Collyn was a Wallace Fellow of Center for the Study of the Presidency, an organization of political, academic and military leaders. At GW, she was a Topics/Notes Editor of the George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics and a semi-finalist in its moot court competition.
After graduation, Collyn returned to Houston as law clerk to the legendary John R. Brown, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. As a law clerk to an active judge, she learned how to "think like a judge" and honed her already considerable writing skills.
Collyn began practicing law at Vinson Elkins in Houston in 1983, and eventually became a partner at two large, regional defense firms, and the co-chair of the Appellate Section of a very large international one. In the interim, she got her first taste of representing injured plaintiffs when a former adversary, impressed by her performance in a lengthy trial, invited her to become his law partner. In that capacity, she successfully handled her firm's role in a ground-breaking securities fraud case in which the firm represented over 5,000 individual investors.
In 1994, after trying cases for a dozen years, Collyn began to focus her practice on what she now calls "full-contact" appellate law: the art of devising and aggressively implementing an integrated, offensive and defensive legal strategy in a lawsuit from initial client consultation through appeal. While developing her unique practice at defense firms, she spent more than a year in various pharmaceutical trials as part of an elite litigation team.
In 2005, Collyn decided to follow her politics and desire to help people (inherited from her father, a well-respected surgeon) and change sides. She joined a premier plaintiffs’ personal injury firm, Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas LLP, as its appellate counsel. While there, she used her unique experience as a defense lawyer to devise and implement an aggressive legal strategy against BP in the hundreds of cases arising from the deadly explosion at its Texas plant and successfully defeated five mandamuses BP filed to stop the plaintiffs. Later, she successfully defeated twin attempts to compel arbitration in another large plant explosion case in state intermediate appellate court and Texas Supreme Court, a rarity for that court. She continued to develop her national reputation on federal preemption matters, handling pharmaceutical preemption matters for Texas Vioxx MDL and national vaccine litigation, helping to develop and implement national preemption strategy for Congress and federal courts, including writing amicus briefs in Wyeth v. Levine, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case on pharmaceutical preemption, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on preemption, participating in development of preemption strategy for the Obama Administration through Center for Progressive Reform, speaking across the country, including presentations to the ABA's Preemption Task Force and Pound Forum for state appellate judges. She was asked to argue pro bono on rare rehearing to overturn Entergy v. Summers, a landmark unanimous decision by the Texas Supreme Court immunizing premises owners from suits by injured workers, and got three votes back.
In the summer of 2009, Collyn decided to expand her plaintiffs' practice nationally and, in October 2009, opened her own practice focusing on legal strategy and appellate advocacy. To share what she has learned in her 29-year practice and to help to raise the profile and quality of appellate practice on the plaintiffs' side, Collyn is an active member of the American Association for Justice [formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America] and has co-chaired its Appellate Practice Litigation Group, Amicus Committee, and Preemption Litigation Group. She has also co-chaired the CLE Committee of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association and acted as Course Director for the Advanced Personal Injury Seminar of the State Bar of Texas. She has handled and argued cases all over the country, the Supreme Court of West Virginia to the Tenth, Sixth, Third and Fifth Circuits , and spent most of the 2010 and 2011 involved in cases before the United States Supreme Court. She is a frequent speaker at national AAJ events and other CLE events in Texas and around the country.
Collyn has a sterling reputation, having been “AV Preeminent 5.0” rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory since 1990 based upon confidential surveys of Houston legal community, receiving “very high to preeminent” rating of legal ability and “very high” rating of ethical standards, the highest ratings given in both categories. She is a Texas Super Lawyer, a Top-Rated Texas lawyer by Law.com and has a "Superb" Rating from Avvo. She is a Life Fellow of the Houston Bar Foundation, and has been a member of College of the State Bar of Texas, which recognizes and encourages lawyers who maintain and enhance their professional skills and the quality of their service to the public by significant voluntary participation in legal education and outstanding service to the legal profession. She has taught legal writing at University of Houston Law Center as an Adjunct Professor and also served on the Houston Young Lawyers Association's Hunger Relief Committee until she could no longer be considered a "young" lawyer, and then on its Hunger Relief Advisory Board, participating from its inception in planning, coordinating and conducting yearly drive to raise substantial funds for hunger relief programs from Houston legal community. In January 2011, she was named the National Law Journal's "Appellate Lawyer of the Week" and, in August 2011, one of 20 "Winning Women" across the state by the the Texas Lawyer.
Collyn believes strongly in giving back to her community as well as her profession. She has been an officer and director of numerous organizations, including serving on both the governance and Action Fund Boards of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas. She has contributed over 1,200 hours in pro bono legal services to the organization since 1994, including handling appeal of Planned Parenthood, et al. v. Operation Rescue, et al., representing young women in parental notification cases on a pro bono basis, developing materials to train lawyers to handle such cases, and conducting training sessions for prospective counsel around the state. Collyn was honored by Board of Directors in 1996 for “outstanding legal services protecting women’s right to choose” for successfully representing affiliate in injunction hearings and appeal in Planned Parenthood v. Operation Rescue. In 2001, Planned Parenthood awarded her its prestigious Public Affairs Award for her “commitment to the young women in Texas and your untiring efforts on their behalf” for legal work on parental notification cases, training lawyers and clinic workers, creating local attorney referral network for these young women, and successfully handling first ever appeal under the new law. The award is not given every year.
Collyn was also a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston for ten years and served as its counsel for six years. In the process, she was its Vice President, Treasurer , and Secretary, chaired many of its committees and program advisory committees.
A political "junkie" since birth, Collyn was a founder and chair of One Hundred Women, an organization comprised of women in business, the arts, civic organizations and the professions, formed to raise the profile and clout of women in politics by raising substantial funds for the Democratic presidential nominee. The organization was forerunner of DNC’s Women’s Leadership Council. As Chair of One Hundred Women, she served as one of the youngest of 80 Trustees of the Democratic National Committee, and one of only a handful of women in the nation in 1988, and served again in 1992 in her own right. Her achievement was so astonishing in the late 1980's that it was recognized on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
For her tireless efforts, Collyn received the Ma’at Justice Award from the Women and the Law Section of the State Bar of Texas in 1999 for “outstanding dedication to equality and justice” given to an individual “who has actively addressed the needs and issues of women both in the legal profession and in the community.” The same year, she received a “Women on the Move” Award, from Texas Executive Women, The Houston Chronicle, KHOU-TV and BMC Software, Inc., as one of ten women honored annually in Houston for outstanding professional achievement and dedication to public service.
She lives and practices law in Houston, Texas.
Collyn Peddie is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas, United States Supreme Court, United States Courts of Appeal for the District of Columbia, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits, and the United States District Courts for the Southern, Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas.
University of South Carolina Law Review, Implications of McIntyre and Goodyear Dunlop Tires, Counsel of Record Panel (March 2013), available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4o15CA9TBY
Mi Casa Es Su Casa: Enterprise Theory and General Jurisdiction After Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown, 63 S.C. L. Rev. 683 (Spring 2012)
Let’s All Play Iqbal: Can Trial Lawyers Save “Notice” Pleading? TRIAL MAGAZINE (Aug. 2010)
Another Look at Tex. Civ. Prac. and Rem. Code Chapter 95, 73 TEX. BAR J. 364 (May 2010)
Confessions of an Ex-Defense Lawyer, TRIAL MAGAZINE (Nov. 2009)
Lessons from the Master: The Legacy of Judge John R. Brown, 25 HOUSTON JOURNAL OF INT’L LAW (2003)
The Ten Commandments of Legal Writing, THE HOUSTON LAWYER (July/Aug. 1994)
Improving Legal Writing: The Triumph of Hope Over Experience, 13 THE REVIEW OF LITIGATION (1993)
Pharmaceutical Litigation 2014: Groundhog Day, Texas Trial Lawyers Association (April 2014)
Beyond Fairness: Does Gender Equity Matter or Is It Just a Nice Thing to Do?, Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Committee (March 2014)
Releasing the Lioness: Understanding Unconscious Bias, Association of Women Attorneys (June 2013), Women En Masse [Aspen] (March 2013)
Scary Women: Unconscious Bias in Litigation, Rice University (March 2013), Texas Association of Trial and Appellate Specialists (Mar. 2012), Houston Trial Lawyers Association (Mar. 2011)
Unconscious Bias: How to Deal With It and How to Make It Work for You, Association of Women Attorneys (Sept. 2011)
Lofton, Mensing & Kurns, Oh My!: The Frightening State of Texas Pharmaceutical and Products Liability Litigation, State Bar of Texas, Advanced Personal Injury Seminar (2012)
The Perils of Judicial "Gossip:" Interpreting Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ch. 95, Advanced Personal Injury Seminar, State Bar of Texas (July, Aug., Sept. & Nov. 2011)
Does Jurisdiction Follow the Product?, Women in Products Liability, American Bar Ass'n (Oct. 2011)
Jurisdiction After Nicastro & Goodyear, Univ. of South Carolina Law Review Symposium (Oct. 2011)
Generic Drug Claims After Mensing, AAJ National Teleseminar (Sept. 2011)
Deconstructing the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision in Pliva v. Mensing, AAJ National Teleseminar (July 2011)
Scary Women: How to Deal with One; How to Become One, Houston Trial Lawyers Association (Mar. 2011)
Preemption of Generic Drug Claims: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, AAJ Annual Convention (July 2010)
Federal Preemption and the Vaccine Act: Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy Training (May 2010 & 2011)
Perilous Journeys; Starting a Solo Practice, Women's Caucus, AAJ Annual Convention (July 2010)
The Reports of My Death . . . Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Litigation After Levine, State Bar of Texas, Litigation Update Institute (Jan. 2010)
Let’s Play Iqbal, AAJ Midyear Convention (Jan. 2010)
Preemption in Generic Drug Cases After Levine: Reglan and Beyond, Mass Torts Made Perfect (Oct. 2009)
The Presumption Against Preemption, Pound Civil Justice Institute [for state appellate judges] (July 2009)
Confessions of an Ex-Defense Lawyer: How to Protect Your Verdicts, AAJ Annual Convention (July 2009)
The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Harmonizing Recent Preemption Decisions, Mass Torts Made Perfect (Mar. 2009)
Tort Claims Under Fire: Preemption of Medical Device and Pharmaceutical Claims After Levine, Montana Trial Lawyers Association (Nov. 2008)
Preemption: The View from the Trenches, AAJ Annual Convention (July 2008)
Screening Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Claims, TTLA Advanced Personal Injury Seminar (May 2008)
Medical Device Preemption: The Sky is Not Falling – Yet, AAJ National TeleSeminar (Jan. 2008)
Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing, No. 09-993, in the Supreme Court of the United States: Represented former editors of NEJM as amicus curiae in support of Respondents in cases determining whether failure-to-warn claims involving generic prescription drugs are preempted under certain circumstances.
Goodyear Luxembourg v. Brown, No. 10-76, in the Supreme Court of the United States: Represented as lead counsel families of two boys killed in a bus accident. The question presented is whether the 3 foreign subsidiaries of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company can be sued in North Carolina and addresses questions of general jurisdiction the Court had not taken up in more than 25 years. Argued the case 1/11/11.
Wright v. Aventis Pasteur, Inc., 2011 PA Super 9 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2011): Successfully defended [8-1] before en banc court panel decision finding no preemption of vaccine design defect claims absent a preliminary determination that no safer alternatives exist.
Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, Inc., No. 09-152, in the Supreme Court of the United States: Successfully petitioned for certiorari in a case that determines the scope of preemption of design defect claims under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
Wyeth v. Levine, 129 S. Ct. 1187, 173 L. Ed. 2d 51 (2009): asked by the California Medical Association to represent the organization in filing an amicus brief on behalf of successful Petitioner Diana Levine in landmark case involving the potential preemption of virtually all pharmaceutical failure to warn claims.
Entergy Gulf States, Inc. v. Summers, 282 S.W.3d 433 (Tex. 2009): asked to represent Mr. Summers at oral argument on rare rehearing to reverse landmark case declaring the state workers’ compensation bar encompasses plant owners. Also represented Texas AFL-CIO and other leading labor organizations in filing an amicus curiae brief in support of Mr. Summers.
Hernandez v. Brinker Int'l, Inc., 285 S.W.3d 152 (
In re Bayer MaterialScience, LLC, 265 S.W.3d 452 (
In re Collins, 242 S.W.3d 837 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st. Dist.] 2006, orig. proceeding): successful mandamus of trial judge on question of first impression: whether amicus statute permits amicus attorney to hire counsel for personal injury lawsuit. It does not.
In re Lincoln Electric Co., et al., 2005
Sealift, Inc. v. Satterly, 2003 WL 21664672 (
Standard Constructors, Inc. v. Chevron Chemical Co., Inc., 101 S.W.3d 619 (
Texas Ass’n of Counties Property & Casualty Self Insurance Fund. v.
Washington Legal Foundation v. Texas Equal Access To Justice Foundation, 293 F.3d 242 (5th Cir. 2002), and 270 F.3d 180 (5th Cir. 2001): asked by Chief Justice Tom Phillips to represent the Conference of Chief Justices (comprised of chief justices of all 50 states’ highest courts) in filing brief as Amicus Curiae in case involving Texas’ IOLTA funding of legal services for the poor.
Ernst & Young v. Pacific Mutual Life Ins. Co., 51 S.W.3d 573 (
In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (
Operation Rescue-National, et al. v. Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, et al., 937 S.W.2d 60 (