Matthew A. Kornhauser
Board Certified Houston Civil Trial Attorney
Attorney Matthew A. Kornhauser is a partner and a principle shareholder Hoover Slovaceck, one of Houston's premier law firms. For the last 30 years, Mr. Kornhauser has forged a reputation for providing insightful, diligent, and effective counsel in commercial disputes across various industries. An experienced mediator, arbitrator, and litigator, he welcomes the opportunity to make his clients' case before the court and stays engaged throughout every phase of the trial process—including appellate work.
Mr. Kornhauser's Practice
Mr. Kornhauser principally represents real estate developers, investors, builders, owners, banks, trusts, corporations, commercial landlords, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT), Home Owners Associations (HOAs), and other entities with a significant stake in commercial real estate. Mr. Kornhauser represents both plaintiffs and defendants in this dynamic and challenging practice area and has become known for his expertise in land use matters, particularly those dealing with restrictive covenants in country club and golf course properties.
Most of Mr. Kornhauser's work has dealt with Texas clients and properties, but he has tried cases in courts all along the East Coast, as well, including Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He has represented clients in the various courts as well, including:
- Texas State District Courts
- The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
- The United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
Additionally, Mr. Kornhauser has been asked to develop and lead seminars on various legal topics for the Texas Bar. These topics include adverse possession, banking and foreclosures, commercial landlord law, easements, employment and business law, and litigation prevention. Mr. Kornhauser also serves on the Hoover Slovacek executive committee and maintains a key role in managing the firm's processes, operations, business development, and client dealings.
Niche Practice Areas
Over the course of his career, Mr. Kornhauser has emerged as one of few lawyers specializing in land use matters concerning golf course properties. He has successfully asserted “golf-use only” restrictions on these properties when owners move to redevelop golf course properties for residential or commercial use. Similarly, he has successfully defended golf course owners who have had suits brought against them by homeowners looking to enforce implied "golf-use only" restrictions. Mr. Kornhauser has also handled cases that dealt with golf course land usage within municipalities and has even testified before local legislative subcommittees that have gone on to pass laws aimed at preserving subdivision golf courses.
Additionally, Mr. Kornhauser operates a practice focused on Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) matters, as well. As a growing number of Houston businesses enter the global market, issues of national security, foreign policy, U.N. mandates, and other considerations become critical for entrepreneurs. Mr. Kornhauser represents both small and mid-sized businesses (both here in Texas and overseas) that must navigate these legal waters, resolve disputes, and embark on global trade activities.
Many of Mr. Kornhauser's cases are indicative to the quality of work he brings to his clients' cases. For instance, Mr. Kornhauser recently defended against a breach of confidentiality agreement and misappropriation of trade secret lawsuit prosecuted in US District Court, Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. The jury delivered a unanimous "no" in this case. See: Demilec (USA) Inc. v. Steven Bohanon, In the United States District Court Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, Cause Number 4:16-CV-585-A.
As part of his OFAC practice, Mr. Kornhauser also represented a Houston oil equipment manufacturer that stood accused by the U.S. Government of exporting its products to Sudan (an outlawed nation). This case involved complex federal laws and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). After a four-year investigation, Mr. Kornhauser negotiated the fines down from $25 million to $2 million over an extended five-year payout period. Individual executives were protected from indictment, cease and desist orders were avoided, the company was able to operate as normal while Mr. Kornhauser incisively pursued solutions.
In the real estate arena, Mr. Kornhauser recently secured a favorable judgment for a Home Owners' Association at odds with golf course owners who sought to use a community's course to develop new properties. Mr. Kornhauser successfully argued and demonstrated the "golf-use only” restrictions on the property. The 1,200 Home Owner's Association's implied reciprocal negative easement (IRNE) was imposed on the golf course (saving it from development) and the organization received $1 million in legal fees, as well. This was a significant win for Mr. Kornhauser and resulted in numerous referrals due to his navigation of golf course and property laws.
Mr. Kornhauser has had several of his writings on legal topics published. “The Battle Between Homeowners and Developers: When a golf course owner decides to redevelop his course, he could face implied restrictions,” appeared in the winter 2013 issue of Golf Inc. “Arbitration Clauses in Construction Contracts: Expedient Justice or Potential Pitfall?” also appeared in Volume 4, Issue 1 of Tools of the Trade, Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston in February 2005.
What made you choose a career in law?
A career as a lawyer is an extraordinary calling that involves tremendous responsibility. From a very early age, I was drawn to this calling due to the intellectual challenge and for the chance to help others.
Do any cases stand out that you're particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of the victory that we secured for our client on the first golf course implied easement case to be litigated in Texas. This result allowed us to preserve the golf course community for several thousand inhabitants. We fought against one of the largest law firms in Texas and prevailed after a two-week trial. Exhausting, but extremely rewarding.
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
Extensive preparation is the key to success. Attention must be directed to every detail no matter how small. Communication with clients and witnesses in advance of trial is essential. Also, it is important that the trial team, including junior lawyers and paralegals are working together as one unit. Litigating complex cases requires a coordinated effort between professionals. HS offers my clients the critical resources needed to compete at the highest level.
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
I view my role to be multifaceted. Yes, I am a trial lawyer and I pride myself on my courtroom skills, but I am also an adviser and counsellor as well. I am always mindful that these roles often overlap during the pendency of a case. Practical solutions are often achieved outside the courtroom.
What sets you apart from other attorneys?
I think that my commitment and loyalty to the needs of my clients is unique. I never stop thinking about their legal problems. I am always thinking about ways to achieve their goals. Whether its sending emails to my paralegal at midnight or making notes while at dinner with my wife, I am always trying to figure out a way to help my clients. Moreover, I think that I am extremely responsive to the needs of my clients. This is not a 9-5 job, and I try to make myself available to clients whenever possible.
How does experience benefit your clients?
There is an old Chinese proverb, “If you want to know the road ahead, ask someone who has traveled it”. Well, for the last thirty years, I have traveled it. I have tried cases in many courts, with many judges, against the toughest opponents. I have been through long negotiation sessions and have seen things that many lawyers have not seen. I know how to think on my feet and how to react when unpredictable circumstances occur during a case. I know how to cost effectively prosecute a case with limited resources. These are skills that younger inexperienced lawyers do not posess.
What types of cases do you specifically handle?
I handle complex litigation and transactional matters, including the following:
- Real estate- Purchase/sell agreements, liens, easements, boundary disputes, restrictive covenants, deed restrictions, construction matters,
- Business/Corporate disputes- Disputes relating to breach of agreement, negligence, fiduciary matters, trustee matters, shareholder disputes, director and officer claims, stock/option disputes, stock fraud and embezzlement issues,
- Employment- Disputes relating to trade secrets, covenants not to compete, confidentiality agreements, breach of employment agreements, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, ADA, FLMA,FLSA claims.
- Insurance- Disputes relating to commercial insurance coverage matters.
- Toxic Tort – Disputes relating to personal injury and property damage caused by the toxic effect of chemicals in construction products.
- Golf course - Development matters, sales and acquisitions, restrictive covenants, express and implied easements, MUD and taxing authority issues. Representation of clients regarding efforts to develop/block the development of subdivision golf courses. Enforcement actions to require proper maintenance of golf course property.
- Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC-) We represent corporate clients in dealings with government enforcement actions.
- Arbitration and Mediation
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I think it’s the satisfaction of exceeding the expectations of my clients. Also, knowing that the client’s trust has been earned from a successful outcome. These things are very rewarding. They often result in the creation of a bond of friendship that lasts many years.