Dee Penner is Tony Clayton’s law partner. From Tony’s offices in Port Allen and New Orleans, she represents companies, state agencies safeguarding Louisiana’s wildlife management areas, and landowners throughout Louisiana in various civil litigation matters. In particular, she focuses on the litigation portfolio of land-loss cases filed with Tony on behalf of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The goal of these cases is to require the pipeline companies who have breached their contracts with the Department to honor their word and restore the wetlands they destroyed on various wildlife management areas and refuges.
A Well-Prepared Attorney in Pursuit of Justice
Along her path to a distinguished legal career, Dee traversed through rewarding careers as an academician and a narrator of present-day history in the making. Today, she pursues justice for the Department, landowners, business owners, injury victims, and other clients, often up against formidable forces from corporate and government entities.
From a country upbringing in the Midwest to the halls of major state universities and stints as a researcher in the backwaters of Russia in the early days of the breakup of the Soviet Union, Dee quenched her thirst for knowledge with a drive to win in every undertaking. As a scholar, traveler, and teacher focusing on Russian history, language, and culture, Dee gained a keen appreciation for people’s deep connections to land and community. As a historian, she developed a talent for uncovering facts and storytelling.
Later, back in America, Dee parsed the real-life sagas of loss, grit, and recovery experienced by survivors of Hurricane Katrina on her path to book writing. In this role, Dee nurtured a deep respect for the priorities and values of hardworking Louisianans.
The daughter and granddaughter of small farmers, Dee is passionate about providing quality legal representation to landowners who have been wrongly deprived of their rights. She has litigated a wide variety of property-rights, breach-of-contract, and public-trust claims in state and federal courts. She has briefed appellate matters before the Louisiana Supreme Court, Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
Dee represents clients in various civil litigation matters, including unfair trade practice claims, pipeline trespass cases, property-damage cases, land-loss cases, and toxic torts. She has represented several landowners sued by pipeline companies that were trying to seize the landowners’ land for pennies on the dollar. Dee works for landowners of all sizes facing companies seeking right-of-way agreements or leases. She handles all aspects of litigation, from client intake and trial through appeals.
From 2018 through 2023, Dee was selected to be part of the Louisiana Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list, an honor given to no more than 2.5% of the lawyers in the state who are either 40 or younger or have been practicing for ten or fewer years. She was named in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers rankings for civil law in Louisiana in 2020-2023. From 2021- 2023, she was named on the National Trial Lawyers organization’s Top 10 Business Tort Trial Lawyers list. Dee has also been featured in the 2023 Louisiana Super Lawyers Magazine!
Dee earned her J.D. at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and two Master of Laws degrees, the first in environmental law from Tulane University and her second from Baylor Law School in litigation management. Dee earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of California. She was a tenured history professor at the University of Memphis and the director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change before she traded academia for the law. The co-author of two books, Dee has also written two law review articles and seven articles for the Louisiana Association for Justice’s monthly magazine.
To learn more about Dee ’s journey from history to law, read the 2021 Super Lawyer’s article Past to Present.
Raised on a farm near a small town – population of 200 –Dee
grew up working in her dad’s soybean fields and driving tractors
from an early age. She now lives along the Mississippi River and enjoys
listening to the blues, jazz, and country music; cooking; reading; and
traveling backroads around Louisiana.
Dee has published two books, one on the forced famine of 1932 and 1933 in Communist Russia and its impact on oppressed farming people and another about New Orleanians who triumphed over the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina through hard work, creativity, and perseverance.
- In 2021, Dee secured a 7-figure settlement for a family group limited liability company, a family trust, and an individual family member against a global Fortune 500 company for two trespassing oxygen and nitrogen pipelines in Calcasieu Parish.
- In 2019, Dee was second chair in a jury trial on a sideswipe collision that resulted in an award of $1,500,000.00.
- Dee secured a seven-figure settlement for 125 Cajuns against Azimuth Energy, Aspect Energy, and Gulf South Pipeline Company for a trespassing flow line and an above-ground valve operator on the Dufrene family’s marsh.
- From 2015-2018, Dee quarterbacked the electronic discovery process in a complicated unfair trade practices case that provided the fingerprint evidence that proved that the departing general manager of Lake Charles Rubber and Gasket and his associates left with no fewer than 14,532 business files that they used to start and run a competing business. In 2021, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal amended the trial court’s judgment of $700,000 and awarded damages totaling over $20,000,000.00. The case is still pending before the Louisiana Supreme Court.
- In 2017, Dee successfully defended the seller of property in Calcasieu parish, who properly disclosed the presence of wetlands on the property to her realtor, prevailing on summary judgment against the buyer.
- Dee also negotiated a favorable settlement with Enterprise Products that rebuffed the unfair terms Enterprise had attempted to bully the Miller family into accepting, thereby protecting the family’s honor.
- In 2016, Dee helped secure a 7-figure settlement in a lawsuit over a 500-foot pipeline placed by a major oil company on family property without its permission and operated for approximately ten years.
- In 2015, Dee won asylum for an 18-year-old abuse victim from Honduras.
- Executive LL.M. (Litigation Management), Baylor Law School, 2022
- LL.M. (Energy & Environment), Tulane Law School, 2015
- J.D., Loyola New Orleans, 2012
- Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1995
- M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1991
- B.A., California State University, Fresno, 1989
Admissions And Certifications
- United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
- United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
- United States Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit
- Supreme Court of the United States
- Member, The Federalist Society, 2022-present
- Member, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 10 Business Tort Trial Lawyers, 2021-present
- Member, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 (2020-present)
- Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars (2018-present)
- Louisiana State Bar Association
- Louisiana Association for Justice
Past Employment Positions
- Broussard & David, LLC (Lafayette, LA), Associate Attorney
- Penner Law, LLC (Lafayette, LA), Partner-in-Charge
- Larry Curtis, APLC (Lafayette, LA), Associate Attorney
- Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC (Lake Charles, LA), Associate Attorney
- Kelly, Hart & Pitre (New Orleans, LA), Associate Attorney
- Honorable Pro Tempore Judge Val Exnicios for the Civil District Court of New Orleans, Law Clerk
- Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, Memphis, Tennessee, Director
- The University of Memphis, Department of History, Memphis, Tennessee, Associate Professor
- Developments in trespass law and coastal restoration cases - Louisiana Advocates