Thomas Sims has spent much of his career at Baron & Budd litigating complex environmental cases ranging from pharmaceutical injuries to water contamination to air pollution.
He was lead counsel in one of the largest Proposition 65 cases in history. Proposition 65 is a California state law that permits private citizens to enforce certain environmental regulations on behalf of the public. Thomas represented three environmental groups in their efforts to reduce diesel exhaust emissions from school buses. Working as lead counsel, Thomas was a driving force in securing a settlement in which the defendant agreed to invest more than $28 million to replace or retrofit school buses that were built before 2003 with air pollution control devices.
Thomas has worked on behalf of communities that were harmed by toxic releases from nearby industrial activities. In 2006 Tom received the Trial Lawyer of the Year award from the non-profit Trial Lawyers for Public Justice in connection with his work on a long-running insurance coverage dispute. Originally filed in 1985, the case involved groundwater contamination of public aquifers in Tucson, Arizona. As a result of the efforts of Tom and his co-counsel, the case finally settled in 2005. During the intervening twenty years, Baron & Budd won two trials and prevailed on three separate appeals. Thomas also represented the Governor of the State of Louisiana in his efforts to secure natural resource damages resulting from the BP Oil Spill.
Thomas has also represented whistleblowers under state and federal false claims acts. He currently represents two mechanics who allege that their former employer, the largest school bus operator in the country, consistently shortcut health and safety procedures in order to increase profits. In connection with his work on that case, Tom persuaded the California Court of Appeals to adopt the theory of implied certification as a basis for liability under the California False Claims, the first time a California court adopted this theory.
Thomas currently devotes the majority of his time to seeking compensation on behalf of individuals and public entities that have been harmed by unsafe prescription drugs. For example, he was part of the litigation team that helped seven states’ attorneys general recover a $177 million settlement against GSK regarding its fraudulent marketing of the diabetes drug Avandia.
- San Francisco Unified School District, ex rel. Contreras v. Laidlaw Transit, Inc., 182 Cal. App. 4th 438 (Cal.App. 2010)
- San Francisco Unified School District, ex rel. Contreras v. Laidlaw Transit, Inc., 213 Cal. App. 4th 1212 (Cal.App. 2013)
- San Francisco Unified School District, ex rel. Contreras v. Laidlaw Transit, Inc., 224 Cal. App. 4th 627 (Cal.App. 2013)
- In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, 647 F.Supp.2d 644 (W.D. La. 2009)
- Fullen v. Philips Elec. N. Am. Corp., 266 F.Supp.2d 471 (N.D.W. Va. 2002)
- Hamilton v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 96 N.Y.2d 222, 750 N.E.2d 1055, 727 N.Y.S.2d 7 (2001)
- Environmental Law Foundation v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., et al., No. RG-11597384 (Super. Ct., Alameda County, Cal.)
- In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, No. 05-4182 (E.D. La.)
- Smith, et al., v. Tucson Airport Authority, No. C-251422 (Super. Ct., Pima County, Ariz.)
University of Texas School of Law (J.D., with honors, 1999)
New College (B.A. 1996)
Bar & Court Admissions
United States District Court for the Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas
United States District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of California
Trial Lawyer of the Year (Public Justice, 2006)
Rising Star of Texas Law (Thompson Reuters, 2005, 2011)
Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Trial Lawyers (National Trial Lawyers, 2017)
American Association for Justice
Texas Trial Lawyers Association
Public Justice Association