de la Fuente, José

Litigation, Appellate, & Business Services Practice Groups - Chair
(512) 322-5849

Joe is an aggressive advocate who loves fighting on behalf of Texans and the entities that represent them in all corners of the State.  Joe is comfortable in any courtroom, state or Federal, trial or appellate.  As the chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group and as a member of a skilled and efficient team, Joe uses his knowledge of his clients and the law, along with his skills as a seasoned advocate, to help clients both avoid disputes through pre-litigation counseling and resolve disputes through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, trial, and appeals.  The cases that Joe handles are often complex, unique, or unusual, involving novel questions of law, frequently with hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars at stake, with implications for people throughout the State.  Joe’s Texas and nationwide clients include numerous public and governmental entities, as well as businesses in the areas of health care, oil and gas, construction, commercial finance, computer software, marketing technology, and large retail industries.  He is the recent past chair of the Construction Law Section of the Austin Bar Association, a former trustee on the board of Mo-Ranch Conference Center, in Hunt, Texas, and has served as a member of the City of Austin Ethics Review Commission.  He speaks regularly on topics unique to public entities, such as governmental immunity, ultra vires litigation, and bond validation lawsuits.

  • Admitted to State Bar of Texas (1995)
  • Admitted to U.S. District Courts for Western, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of Texas
  • J.D., University of Texas (1995) (Associate Editor, The Review of Litigation; Teaching Quizmaster)
  • B.A., Plan II Honors, University of Texas (1992)
  • Presently representing a river authority in defense of takings suits arising from the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in trial courts and courts of appeal
  • Presently representing local government entities in multidistrict litigation in defense of claims arising from the impacts of Winter Storm Uri on the Texas electric market
  • Represented a local government entity in defense of a taking-by-flood case at trial, appeal, and pending before the Supreme Court of Texas
  • Represented a local government entity in defense of claims involving disputed rights and interests in groundwater, resolving the case by agreement
  • Represented and provided advice to several local government entities in managing construction contracts and potential disputes
  • Represented numerous local government entities in Chapter 1205 bond validation suits, obtaining validation of hundreds of millions of dollars in public financing, including extensive work with the Attorney General of the State of Texas to reach appropriate final declaratory judgments
  • Represented a river authority in multi-forum litigation involving a long-term water contract in both trial and appellate courts, successfully resolving the case by agreement
  • Represented a public utility in several contract disputes in district court, successfully resolved by agreement
  • Represented municipal electric utility in contract dispute with energy provider, case resolved by agreement
  • Represented municipal and electric cooperative wholesale electric customers in contract litigation with their wholesale electric provider, with all cases resolved by agreement
  • Represented a municipality in successful defense against a Chapter 1205 bond validation lawsuit involving issues of permissible water and wastewater services
  • Represented public entities in successful challenge of a Chapter 1205 bond validation lawsuit relating to the issue of water rights, including dismissal of suit at trial court and successful defense of result at the Court of Appeals
  • Representing a municipality in successful contest of a Chapter 1205 bond validation lawsuit, with over $1.5 billion at issue
  • Representing a large solid waste company in a variety of disputes and litigation involving both contract and regulatory issues, in both state and Federal Court
  • Representing a municipality in defense of an environmental preferential purchasing resolution in Federal Court, obtaining the dismissal of the majority of plaintiff’s claims, and resolution of remaining issues by favorable settlement
  • Representing governmental entities and private enterprises in constitutional and civil rights litigation, including racial discrimination, Fair Housing Act and freedom of speech cases, including defense of federal court litigation at trial and appeal to the Fifth Circuit
  • Representing claimants in Clean Water Act cases, including obtaining the largest civil penalty ever assessed up to that time for violations of the Clean Water Act
  • Resolving complex construction disputes, including claims relating to moisture incursion and other structural defects, and contract claims relating to performance and payment disputes
  • Trial and judgment in breach of contract case in favor of a regional hospital and defense of the judgment on appeal
  • Successful arbitration on behalf of a regional hospital in physician recruiting agreement dispute
  • Representing physician practice group in pre-dispute counseling and settlement of contract disputes
  • Obtaining emergency injunctive relief to prevent potential contamination of municipal water source
  • Representing governmental entities and private parties in disputes arising from pipeline failures and spills, including contamination and product liability disputes
  • Successful arbitration in defense of national technology services company in a dispute regarding stock purchase rights pursuant to merger agreement
  • Successful jury trials to defense verdict in wrongful termination cases, including cases relating to race discrimination and workers’ compensation claim retaliation
  • Negotiating and drafting complex indemnity and risk-sharing agreements
  • Representing a video game software company in a vendor contract dispute
  • Representing physicians and practice groups when subpoenaed as third-party witnesses
  • Representing private correctional facilities in wrongful death and personal injury litigation
  • Representing a college athletic organization at trial and appeal to Texas Supreme Court
  • Successful jury trials of insurance premium fraud cases
  • Obtaining summary judgment for defense in multi-party lender liability case
  • Appeals to Courts of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court
Representative Appellate Cases
  • San Jacinto River Auth. v. Gonzalez, 2022 WL 5237106 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 6, 2022, no pet. h.)
  • Stratta v. Roe, 961 F.3d 340 (5th Cir. 2020)
  • W. Travis Cty. Pub. Util. Agency v. Travis Cty. Mun. Util. Dist. No. 12, 537 S.W.3d 549 (Tex. App.—Austin 2017, pet. denied)
  • Chisholm Trail SUD Stakeholders Grp. v. Chisholm Trail Special Util. Dist., No. 03-16-00214-CV, 2017 WL 2062258 (Tex. App.—Austin May 11, 2017)
  • City of Dallas v. Sabine River Auth. of Tex., No. 03-15-00371-CV, 2017 WL 2536882 (Tex. App.—Austin June 7, 2017)
  • City of Dallas v. Abney, No. 09-16-00038-CV, 2016 WL 3197591 (Tex. App.—Beaumont June 9, 2016)
  • Guadalupe-Blanco River Auth. v. Tex. Att’y Gen., No. 03-14-00393-CV, 2015 WL 868871 (Tex. App.—Austin Feb. 26, 2015)
  • Zachry Const. Corp. v. Port of Houston Auth. of Harris Cnty., 449 S.W.3d 98 (Tex. 2014)
  • Lower Colorado River Auth. v. City of Boerne, Tex., 422 S.W.3d 60 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2014, pet. dism’d)
  • City of Seguin v. Lower Colorado River Auth., No. 03-13-00165-CV, 2014 WL 258847 (Tex. App.—Austin Jan. 15, 2014, pet. dism’d)
  • City of Georgetown v. Lower Colorado River Auth., 413 S.W.3d 803 (Tex. App.—2013, pet. dism’d)
  • Atmos Energy Corp. v. Cities of Allen, 353 S.W.3d 156, 157 (Tex. 2011)
  • Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Assn v. Yeo, 171 S.W.3d 863, 865 (Tex. 2005)
  • Healthcare Cable Sys., Inc. v. Good Shepherd Hosp., Inc., 180 S.W.3d 787 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2005, no pet.)
  • “Mandamus and Ultra Vires Issues: What can happen if you go ‘ultra’ your ‘vires,’” paper and presentation at Texas City Attorneys Association, June 2016
  • “Immunity in Contract Cases,” paper and presentation at Advanced Government Law Conference, July 2015
  • “Are Proprietary Contracts Putting Cities at Risk?,” paper and presentation at Texas City Attorneys Association, July 2014
  • “Preparing an Environmental Lawsuit for Filing and Conducting Discovery: Tasks and Strategies,” Paper and panelist at Texas Environmental Superconference, August 2012
  • “Arbitration’s Lucky Charms,” paper and presentation to Texas Public Power Association, October, 2007
  • “Legal Issues for Directors of Non-Profit Corporations,” paper and presentation, July, 2007
  • “The Federal Fair Housing Act and Municipal Zoning and Regulation: New Developments That May Affect “New Developments,” paper and presentation to Texas City Attorneys Association, June, 2007
  • “Cross-Examination Dos and Don’ts,” paper and panelist, Austin Bar Association Ultimate Trial Notebook Seminar, May, 2006
  • “Developments in Substantive Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution ‘Arbitration Tango,’“ Texas Lawyer, December 19, 2005
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Austin Bar Association; Past Chair, Construction Law Section
  • American Inns of Court
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Member, Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court
  • Recipient of 2010 IMLA Amicus Service Award
Joe counts cooking as one of his favorite hobbies, and has mastered the elusive culinary skill of making the perfect roux. He enjoys fishing, hunting, chess, and UT sports. Joe spends his free time with his wife, Sarah and two kids, Anna and Thomas.

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