Hon. Vanessa Gilmore

“You can’t do common things and expect uncommon results”

Hon. Vanessa D. Gilmore (USDJ Ret.) joins Roberts Markland after a distinguished 27-year career as a United States district judge in the Southern District of Texas and recent work as an arbitrator and mediator. Sworn in as the youngest sitting federal judge in the nation, Judge Gilmore went on to develop extensive experience in handling matters involving patents and copyrights, labor and employment, and securities class actions. She has issued important decisions on intellectual property, product liability, securities fraud, energy and utilities, insurance, and environmental law, and has handled significant matters, including the trial of the Enron Broadband case and the building of the Galveston cruise ship terminal.  Before her service on the federal bench, she worked for thirteen years at the Houston law firm of Vickery, Kilbride, Gilmore, and Vickery where she specialized in civil litigation.

Judge Gilmore is the co-author of “A Boy Named Rocky”, a book for the children of incarcerated parents. She is a frequent speaker on issues related to these children and has worked on initiatives to help them and their families. Gilmore is the author of three other books including “Saving the Dream”, a fiction novel that Gilmore hopes will encourage other families and single people to pursue their dreams of parenting through adoption. Gilmore is the recipient of numerous civic awards for community service. She is a sought-after speaker and presenter.

Judge Gilmore spent seventeen years on the board of trustees of Hampton University, and currently serves on the board of Texas Children’s Hospital, where she works on buildings and grounds, public policy, quality and service, and safety issues. She is also a member of the board of the DePelchin Children’s Center, an accredited foster care and adoption agency serving vulnerable children and families in Texas, and the boards of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Houston Equity fund. Judge Gilmore has held significant positions with the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board and Texans for NAFTA, where she worked with diplomatic leaders, including the president of Mexico, to increase U.S. trade opportunities.

Judge Gilmore adjudicated a wide range of matters during her tenure as a United States district court judge and has a strong record of resolving matters in the following areas:

Representative Matters

  • Death Penalty
    • Trial of a truck driver convicted of crimes involving smuggling and transporting undocumented individuals
  • Election Law
    • Presided over hundreds of employment matters, including discrimination cases involving race, sex and national origin discrimination; Title IX cases involving sexual harassment on college campuses; Fair Labor Standards Act wage cases; and civil rights/jobs cases
    • Assisted in settlement of litigation over civil rights/employment trial on claims of sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining of harassment
  • Environmental Law
    • Presided over suit alleging violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act relating to a permit secured to build seven container berths and three cruise berths in the Galveston Bay.
  • Equal Protection
    • Handled case filed by inflatable advertising balloon company against the City of Houston for the city’s regulation of advertising and commercial speech on attention-getting devices, including inflatable balloons
  • Patents
    • Trial alleging infringement of six patents related to solid expandable technology for the expansion of well holes
    • Matter between two prominent software companies and claims of patent infringement relating to methods and system for storing local random access memory data obtained from persistent storage devices across a network
    • Presided over patent trial between a pharmaceutical company and a chemical manufacturing company related to claims of direct infringement of technology for development of oxidized coenzyme Q10
    • Construed claims for seven patents related to the removal of volatile fuel vapors from storage tanks and other vessels in the oil and gas industry
    • Construed claims for patent related to pumps used to deliver mineral oil- or synthetic oil-based lubricant to specific locations on machinery
    • Construed claims for patents relating to systems for monitoring the autonomic nervous system using real-time heart rate spectral analysis to monitor the autonomic nervous system
    • Issued judgment in a trial involving patents that covered a variable-width bariatric bed and claims of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents
  • Products Liability
    • Entered judgment finding that a large multinational technology company that focuses on e-commerce is not liable for third-party products that are shipped and fulfilled by them but not manufactured by the company
  • Securities
    • Oversaw a multiple-count indictment that included charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, insider trading and money laundering in connection with the collapse of an American energy, commodities and services company
    • Class action certification and settlement of suit for violations of the federal securities laws related to the purchase of stock in a corporation that operated correctional facilities
    • Class action certification and settlement of a suit for securities fraud in connection with the announcement and later restatement of revenues related to seismic data and related geophysical services business for the petroleum industry
    • Managed the approval of a settlement and plan of allocation for a suit against a retiree medical benefits trust
  • Trademarks and Copyrights
    • Matter involving trademark infringement on rights to a dog’s name that resulted in a verdict
    • Trial involving a nightspot’s name that resulted in the decision that it was not trademark infringement
    • Trial involving copyright infringement liability due to registration not being timely made
  • Transportation
    • Trial over claims against two well-known rideshare companies of illegal operation that resulted in a settlement
  • Workers Compensation
    • Trial regarding the misrepresentation of the circumstances of an employee’s death by the deceased’s child and their related emotional distress claims

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Member, Board of Directors, Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  • Member, Board of Visitors, MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2021–present
  • Board Member, Houston Fund for Social Justice and Economic Equity, 2021–present
  • Board Member, DePelchin Children’s Center, 2020–present
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Texas Children’s Hospital, 2019–present
  • Member, Risk Management Committee, River Oaks Baptist School, 2015–present
  • Co-Founder and Member, Downtown Group, Houston, 1997–present
  • Member, Board of Directors, First Tee of Houston, 2016–2019
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Hampton University (Virginia), 1998–2015
  • Member, Board of Trustees, River Oaks Baptist School, 2014–2017
  • Member, Board of Directors, Royalton at River Oaks Council of Co-Owners, 2012–2015
  • Member, Dean Search Committee, University of Houston Law Center, 1999–2000, 2006–2008
  • Member, President’s Advisory Council, University of Houston, 1999–2000
  • Member, Alumni Board, University of Houston Law Center, 1993–1995
  • Board Member, Federal Bar Association, 1996–2000
  • Chairperson, Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board, 1991–1994
  • Chairperson, Texans for NAFTA, 1992–1993
  • President, YWCA Board of Directors, 1990–1992
  • Member, Houston Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, National Bar Association
  • Member, Houston Lawyers Association
  • Member, Federal Bar Association


  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Southern District of Texas
  • State Bar of Texas, 1982

Background & Education

  • Mediator/Arbitrator, JAMS – 2002- present
  • U.S. District Judge, Southern District of Texas, 1994–2021
  • Vickery, Kilbride, Gilmore & Vickery, 1981–1994
  • Sue Schecter & Associates, 1985–1986
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Houston Law Center, 1984
  • Research Assistant, Lands Division, United States Attorney’s Office, 1981
  • Research Assistant, National College of District Attorneys, 1980–1981
  • J.D., University of Houston College of Law, 1981
  • B.S., Hampton University, 1977

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Night with the Arbitrators, Houston Bar Association Construction Law Section, Houston, TX
  • “The Best Venue for Your Complex Construction Dispute…Is (d) All of the Above,” Society of Construction Law North America, Houston, TX
  • Chief Litigation Officer Summit, Amelia Island, FL
  • “Judge Vanessa Gilmore: You need bumps in the road to make yourself do better,” KPRC Celebrates Black History, KPRC Channel 2 Houston, February 26, 2019, Television
  • OSU’s 28th Annual Women’s Business Leadership Conference, Tulsa, OK
  • Sondock Jurist in Residence Lecture, University of Houston, Houston, TX
  • “Empowering the Next Generation,” Houston Medical Forum Gala, Houston, TX
  • Selected speeches on Intellectual Property issues in Shanghai, Hungzhou and Beijing, China
  • Judicial Forum, National Bar Association Commercial Law Section, Dana Point, CA
  • Walmart Women’s Conference, Lubbock, TX
  • “Beyond the Courts: Innovations in Crime Prevention, Prisoner Families and Re-Entry,” Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative, Cambridge, MA
  • “Ethics in Accounting,” NABA, Houston, TX
  • Foster Care Appreciation Dinner, Houston, TX
  • “Litigation How To,” American Intellectual Property Law Association, Atlanta, GA
  • Fall Convocation Address, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
  • Commencement Address, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
  • “The Public Service Role of Boards and Commissions,” Leadership Texas, Austin, TX

Selected Published Opinions

  • Products Liability
    • McMillan v. Amazon, 2020

    Labor & Employment

    • Terry v. Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, 2017

    Intellectual Property & Patents

    • Integrated Production Services, Inc. v. Production Control Services, Inc., 2013

    Election Law

    • Rodriguez v. Harris County, Tex., 2013

    Intellectual Property/Trademarks

    • Rin Tin Tin, Inc. v. First Look Studios, Inc., 2009

    Securities Fraud

    • In Re Seitel, Inc. Securities Litigation, 2007

    Securities & Currency Regulation

    • U.S. v. Hirko, 447 F.Supp.2d 734, (S.D. Tex. Aug 31, 2006)

    Environmental Law

    • City of Shoreacres v. Waterworth, 2004

    Energy & Utilities

    • R&B Falcon Corp. v. American Exploration Co., 2001

    Banks and Banking

    • Voest Apine Trading Co. v. Bank of China, 2000

    Libel & Slander

    • Proctor & Gamble v. Amway Corp., 1999


    • Corporate Health Ins., Inc. v. Texas Dept. of Ins., 1998

    Antitrust & Trade Regulation

    • Ginzburg v. Memorial Healthcare Systems, Inc., 1997


    • Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc v. Barry Capece, 1996


Email: vg@robertsmarkland.com

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