Jeff Bale

Partner / Houston

P: 713.588.0446

For more than 35 years, Jeff Bale has represented the legal interests of offshore and onshore seismic companies, vessel owners and operators, offshore drilling contractors, stevedores, refineries, manufacturers and suppliers of products, marine terminals, marine underwriters, P&I clubs, and general liability underwriters. He has tried a significant number of jury and non-jury cases to conclusion in both state and federal courts. These have involved serious and catastrophic personal injury and death, premises liability, maritime cargo, business disputes, complex non-competition contract disputes, wrongful termination, insurance coverage disputes, fraud and deceptive trade practices, products liability, copyright infringement, and securities-related cases.

Jeff has also handled many maritime casualty cases, including incidents resulting in catastrophic collisions/allisions, well shut-in cases, cargo claims, maritime pollution and miscellaneous property damage matters from the initial investigation of the incident through conclusion. Additionally, he has served as lead counsel in mass tort cases involving thousands of plaintiffs and in multidistrict antitrust class action litigation involving allegations of price fixing of lease oil royalty payments. Jeff routinely consults with clients in non-litigation business matters ranging from both advice to preparation of documents in both maritime and non-maritime transactions, as well as offering opinions on insurance coverage issues.

Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1977. He then attended South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas, where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1981. Mr. Bale is licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, the United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas, and all courts, trial and appellate, within the State of Texas.

Practice Areas

Practice Areas

  • Admiralty and Maritime
  • Business Transactions
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Energy
  • General Liability
  • Insurance
  • Labor and Employment
  • Premises Liability
  • Subrogation
  • Transportation
  • Trucking


  • J.D., South Texas College of Law, 1981
  • B.S., University of Texas at El Paso, 1977

Court Admissions

  • State of Texas U.S. Supreme Court
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court

Representative Cases

  • Integrally involved in the appeal of Guevara v. Maritime Overseas Corporation, 59 F.3d 1496 (5th Cir. 1995), which abolished the availability of punitive damages in maintenance and cure cases within the Fifth Circuit
  • Served as lead counsel in the case of Maritime Overseas v. Waiters, 923 S.W.2d 36 (Tex.App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 1995), aff’d. as modified, 917 S.W.2d 17 (Tex. 1996), which extended the Guevara punitive damage prohibition to maintenance and cure cases within the State of Texas
  • These cases remained stalwart precedents for fifteen years until the Supreme Court of the United States decided the case of Atlantic Sounding Co., Inc. v. Townsend, 129 S.Ct. 2561, 174 L.Ed.2d 382, 2009 AMC 1521 (2009)

Honors and Distinctions

  • Rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in the Best of the U.S., a non-paid directory of professionals in the United States
  • A.M. Best Company’s Directory of Recommended Insurance Attorneys

Published Works

  • Co-author, Engerrand and Bale, Seaman Status Reconsidered, 24 South Texas Law Journal 431 (1983)
    • Cited with approval by the Supreme Court of the United States in rendering its decision in the case of McDermott Int’l, Inc. v. Wilander, 498 U.S. 337, 111 S.Ct. 807, 112 L.Ed. 2d 866 (1991)

Speeches and Presentations

  • Interviewed by Forbes Business Network in connection with its program airing on American Airlines entitled, “Special Tribute:  America’s Best Lawyers”

Classes and Seminars Taught

  • Jeff has been an invited speaker at seminars on topics ranging from the Americans with Disabilities Act, handling the defense of occupational exposure cases, contractual liabilities in the offshore context, developing issues in maintenance and cure, as well as other subjects, by such organizations as the University of Texas, the Houston Mariners Club, and the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston

Professional Memberships

  • State Bar of Texas
  • The Bar Association of the Federal Fifth Circuit
  • The Houston County Bar Association
  • The Fort Bend County Bar Association
  • The Maritime Law Association of the United States,
    • Holds Proctor status
  • Chair, Admiralty Law Committee, Defense Research Institute (2000-2002)
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
  • Master, Garland Walker American Inn of Court
  • Advisory Board Member, Houston Maritime Arbitrators Association
    • Qualified Mediator and Arbitrator
  • International Association of Defense Counsel