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Trial by Zoom: How Smyser Kaplan & Veselka Secured a $158 Million Victory in Virtual Court

Trial by Zoom: How Smyser Kaplan & Veselka Secured a $158 Million Victory in Virtual Court

When courts closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, attorneys at Smyser Kaplan & Veselka (SKV), a Houston-based litigation firm, had to figure out how to continue serving their clients while working remotely. That included using Zoom to communicate with clients, conduct depositions, and even take a case to virtual court.

SKV attorneys were already familiar with the technology, making the transition nearly seamless. Just a few months before pandemic restrictions set in, SKV worked with AV solutions designer and Zoom partner Data Projections to install and integrate a Polycom Group Series 500 conference room system with over 160 inches of wall monitors and EagleEye Director cameras. 

“We picked Zoom right before the pandemic and it has been a lifesaver,” said Mohamed Rehman, director of IT at SKV. “We didn’t have to stop our business during the pandemic.”

The state-of-the-art conference room setup became critical to conducting a five-week bench trial entirely on Zoom, as our latest case study shows.

‘One of the most focused trials we’ve had’

In what may be one of the longest Zoom bench trials in Texas state courts to date, and one of the longest Zoom bench trials for a corporate dispute, SKV scored a $158 million judgment for its client, Vitol Americas Corp., in October 2020. 

During the trial, SKV attorneys used the firm’s state-of-the-art conference room technology to:

  • Examine 18 live witnesses over Zoom
  • Present hundreds of exhibits  
  • Share several pre-taped depositions

“The beauty of this trial was that we had not a single delay,” Rehman said. “Everything was seamless, which doesn’t happen — even in court. [Lead attorney] Lee Kaplan liked that Zoom enabled the judge to focus on witnesses, exhibits, and questioning attorneys with fewer distractions than would normally occur in the courtroom.”

Read our case study to learn more about how SKV’s integrated conference room setup and use of Zoom have improved client communications and enabled business continuity, even when courts were closed. 

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