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Hon. Karen Brown Willcutts (Former), FCIArb
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Hon. Karen Brown Willcutts (Former), FCIArb

General Biography
Practice Areas
Employment Law
Governmental & Public Agency
Intellectual Property
Personal Injury/Torts
Professional Liability
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education
Hon. Karen Brown Willcutts (Former), FCIArb, combines over 35 years of experience as a trial lawyer, judge, mediator, and arbitrator with her efficient case management skills to effectively and efficiently resolve a wide range of matters at JAMS. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and renowned for her empathy and her ability to quickly grasp the issues in any legal matter.

As a mediator, Judge Willcutts works diligently to assist parties in exploring every possible avenue to resolve their dispute and collaborate to craft creative settlements. In her practice as an arbitrator and special master, she strives to be well prepared, to provide the parties with a full and fair hearing as expeditiously as possible and works persistently to render a timely decision in full accordance with the law and the evidence.

Judge Willcutts has served as mediator and arbitrator in a diverse range of disputes involving breach of contract, insurance coverage, partnership dissolutions, violations of non-compete and non-solicitation clauses, embezzlement, civil theft, breach of fiduciary duty, consumer protection complaints, wrongful termination, employment discrimination, class action conspiracy to commit fraud, derivative actions, business torts, personal injury, environmental clean-up, construction defect, and numerous other practice areas.

Representative Matters

  • Banking
      • Sole arbitrator in claims brought by consumer against credit card company for breach of contract and violations of various statutes including Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
      • Mediated dozens of consumer claims against large national bank arising from the bank’s failure to offer homeowners who were delinquent on their loans trial payment plans that may have led to a modification of their mortgages and/or avoided foreclosure; the bank admits that its failure was the result of a faulty calculations on its part
  • Business/Commercial
      • Chair of a tripartite arbitration panel in dispute between investor in a start-up subscription-based broadband wireless service and the majority shareholder/manager, a large national telecommunications company, asserting claims of gross negligence, intentional conduct, fraud and misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment; the claimant sought damages in excess of $40 million
      • Mediated claims by building contractor against concrete company for breach of contract, fraud, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, arising out of the sale of allegedly defective concrete
      • Mediation regarding civil suit brought by the State of Texas against an individual for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law
      • Party-appointed arbitrator in dispute between construction/maintenance company and railroad involving complex claim for breach of construction contract
      • Party-appointed arbitrator in dispute seeking damages in excess of $1 million for breach of warranties and misrepresentations in Stock Purchase Agreement
      • Mediation involving the appeal of summary judgment granted by trial court in complex breach of contract case
      • Mediated derivative action by Better Business Bureau member against officers and directors of BBB seeking a declaration that BBB’s by-laws violated Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act and that the directors were illegally elected and participated in illegal actions
      • Arbitrated claims by consumer alleging deceptive and fraudulent practices, and violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), CA Unfair Competition Laws (UCL), and CA False Advertising Laws (FAL)
      • Sole arbitrator in case involving a breach of contract claim brought by hotel chain against customer for failure to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods and services furnished by the hotel in connection with an exposition held by the customer at the hotel
      • Arbitrated a breach of contract dispute in which claimant alleged breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful termination of the agreement, violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and Texas Business and Commerce Code (BCC), and theft of professional services in violation of the Texas Penal Code (PC) in connection with respondent’s alleged failure to pay for property inspection and preservation services on numerous properties provided by claimant; the respondent counterclaimed for breach of contract
      • Mediated to settlement a dispute arising out of the enforceability of a covenant not to compete contained in a contract for the sale of a restaurant; plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the covenant was not enforceable and defendant filed a counterclaim for breach of contract, request for permanent injunction, common law fraud and promissory estoppel
  • Employment Law
      • Numerous disputes involving claims of harassment, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issues, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues, and many others
      • Sole arbitrator in age discrimination and wrongful termination claim brought by security officer against defense contractor
      • Sole arbitrator in employment matter asserting claims for race discrimination, racially hostile work environment, and constructive discharge
      • Sole arbitrator in employment matter involving allegations of sex and race discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, constructive discharge, and olations of the Equal Pay Act
      • Sole arbitrator of claims brought by former employee for payment of unused, accrued fringe benefits upon termination in matter involving complex choice of law analysis
      • Sole arbitrator in wrongful termination suit against company by maintenance supervisor
      • Arbitrated claim brought by restaurant employee who claimed he was required to work off the clock
      • Sole arbitrator in appeal by police officer of disciplinary action imposed by city
      • Sole arbitrator in employment case brought by office worker asserting claims for race discrimination, racially hostile work environment, and constructive discharge
      • Arbitrated a wrongful termination matter in which a medical doctor brought claims against his former employer, the owner of several medical clinics, for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful termination, libel and slander
      • Arbitrated an employment dispute involving claims brought by a director of sales against her former employer, a national department store chain, for violations of the Texas Debt Collection Act (DCA), Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), false imprisonment and requesting a declaratory judgment holding that a promissory note signed by the employee was unenforceable
      • Mediated age discrimination case brought by railroad conductor against railroad
      • Mediated claim brought by insurance company against former executive alleging breach of non-compete and non-solicitation clauses in employment contract
      • Mediated pre-litigation claim brought by military support services employee alleging hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
      • Mediated pre-litigation settlement of a wrongful termination claim by electrician against oil company
      • Mediated wage and hour claim brought by employee of fitness center who claimed he was forced to work off the clock
  • Energy/Utility
      • Arbitrated, as member of tri-partite panel, disputes between multiple energy companies regarding indemnity obligations for claims asserted in lawsuits against them by mineral rights owners
      • As special master, conducted numerous hearings in case asserting complex claims and counterclaims between two oil trading companies arising from former joint venture
      • Mediated dispute between mineral rights owner and oil & gas exploration company regarding alleged underpayment of royalties based on conflicting interpretations of series of oil & gas leases
      • Mediated disputes regarding alleged breach of oil & gas purchase agreement related to claim that seller failed to maintain production on several leases
      • Mediation of employment dispute involving leave imposed on oil refinery employee for alleged violation of life-saving rule
      • Mediator for matter brought by board member and stockholder against oil & gas exploration and production company and several board members alleging breach of fiduciary duty and fraud
      • Sole arbitrator of matter involving breach of royalty lease, breach of implied covenant of warranty of title, in addition to fraudulent and negligent representations brought by lessee against mineral rights owner
      • Successfully mediated numerous cases involving complex disputes between royalty owners and oil & gas companies and their subsidiaries, including issues related to breach of contract (both express and implied covenants); underpayment and improper calculation of royalties; improper deductions of post-production costs, including transportation costs; requests for an accounting; violations of the Texas Natural Resources Code (NRC); and violations of the Louisiana Mineral Code
  • Health Care
      • Mediated a wrongful termination suit brought by healthcare worker against hospital alleging race and age discrimination
      • Sole arbitrator in contract dispute between hospital and third-party administrator
      • Arbitrated claim by hospital against insurance company for damages arising out of alleged underpayment of medical bills
      • Mediated Claims brought by hospital against patient’s employer seeking payment of medical bills
      • Mediated a claim brought by a hospital against a doctor and specialty clinic for breach of recruitment agreement, and specialty clinic brought claim against the same doctor for breach of a covenant not to compete; hospital and doctor settled
  • Insurance
      • Mediated multi-million-dollar class action brought by consumers/insureds against software companies and insurers claiming breach of contract, fraud, and conspiracy
      • Mediated insurance company suit against former executive alleging conversion, civil theft, embezzlement, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with existing and prospective contracts, and unjust enrichment
      • Party-appointed arbitrator in insurance coverage dispute involving occupational accident policy
  • Personal Injury/Torts
      • Served as sole arbitrator in several separate non-subscriber worker’s compensation matters brought by individual employees/former employees of chicken processing plant alleging they were injured on the job as a result of his employer’s negligence
      • Served as sole arbitrator in several matters brought by former patients or their representatives against nursing homes for negligence and/or wrongful death
      • Arbitrated claim brought by oilfield worker who claimed he suffered severe injuries on the job due to his employer’s willful, deliberate attempt to injure him
  • Real Property
      • Mediated dispute involving a suit for damages and rescission by buyer against seller of home, realtor, real estate company, and inspection company alleging breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, and deceptive trade practices

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS. 

  • Selected Articles
    • Effective Experts in JAMS Mediations & Arbitrations: How to Make ADR Work for You; co-panelist in presentation to the Forensic Expert Witness Association (March 2019)
    • Author, "Partnering with Outside Counsel to Effectively Manage Commercial Arbitrations," Corporate Counsel, June 2017
    • Author, "Show Me the Money! Damage Analysis is Key to Settling Complex Commercial Cases," Texas Lawyer, May 2017
    • Author, "Damage Analysis Is Key To Settling Complex Cases," Law 360, June 2016
    • Author, "How to Expand an Arbitrator's Authority without Really Trying," Texas Lawyer, May 2015
    • Co-author, “Forum 2013 Intensive Program: Mediation,” published for American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising, Mediation Intensive Program, October 2013
    • Author, “Arbitration: Still an Effective Method of Resolving Business Disputes?,” Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, December 2011
    • Author, “Preparation: An Important Key to a Successful Mediation,” Dallas Bar Association Headnotes, September 2007
    • Author, “Mediation and Arbitration Update,” Texas Bar CLE “Winning Before Trial,” March 2007
  • Honors
    • Selected as a Best Lawyer in Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation, D Magazine, 2011, 2014-2018
    • Selected as a Best Woman Lawyer in Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation, D Magazine, 2010 
    • AV Pre-Eminent Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Memberships
    • Advisory Board Member, Center for American and International Law
      • Institute for Energy Law
    • Member, Dallas Bar Association
      • Alternative Dispute Resolution
      • Antitrust and Trade Regulation
      • Business Litigation
      • Energy Law
      • Franchise & Distribution Law
      • International Law
      • Labor and Employment
    • Member, State Bar of Texas
      • Alternative Dispute Resolution
      • Antitrust and Business Litigation
      • International Law
      • Labor and Employment
      • Litigation
    • Member, Attorneys Serving the Community, 1994-present (co-chaired several committees)
  • Professional Activities
    • Adjunct Professor, Arbitration Law and Advocacy, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, Spring 2010 
    • Past Chair, Antitrust and Business Litigation Section, State Bar of Texas, 1997-1998 (council member, 1992-1999) 
    • Advisory Board Member, Insitute for Energy Law, Center for American and International Law
    • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
    • Received Diploma in International Arbitration
    • Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Selected Speaking Engagements
    • Panelist, "Mediation in the Oil and Gas Industry, Current Trends and a Look into the Future," Institute for Energy Law, March 2016
    • Panelist, "Arbitrators and Judges Panel: Experts in Arbitration," Forensic Expert Witness Association, 2014
    • Co-panelist, “Mediation Intensive,” American Bar Association Forum on Franchising, 2013 
    • Panelist, “Arbitrators’ and Judges’ Panel: Tips for Your Case,” University of Texas School of Law 2012 Construction Law Symposium, 2012 
    • Co-presenter, “Maximizing Arbitration Efficiency and Effectiveness,” Dallas Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section, 2011 
    • Co-presenter, “Arbitration,” North Texas Conflict Resolution Conference, 2008 
    • Presenter, “Mediation and Arbitration,” North Texas Paralegal Association, 2007 
    • Presenter, “Mediation and Arbitration Update,” Texas Bar CLE “Winning Before Trial,” 2007 
    • Co-presenter, “Da Ethics Code: Unveiling the Ethical Mysteries in Labor/Employment ADR,” Employment Law Section of the Dallas Bar Association, 2006

Background and Education

  • Civil Associate Judge, Dallas County, TX, 2002-2004
  • Strasburger & Price, LLP, Dallas, 1985-2002
    • Of Counsel, January-October 2002
    • Partner, 1992-2001
    • Associate, 1985-1991
  • J.D., with honors, University of Texas School of Law
  • B.A., with high honors, University of Texas at Arlington


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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