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Newsmakers: Fort Worth lawyers establish new firm

Fort Worth lawyers establish new firm

Attorneys W. Kelly Puls, Mark A. Haney and Stephanie E. Kaiser have joined to open a new firm, Puls Haney Kaiser PLLC.

The firm has 19 practice groups offering services ranging from business and personal injury litigation to banking and transactional work.

The partners also have opened an office in Austin.

Puls is board-certified in personal injury and in civil trial law. He has tried hundreds of cases to verdict, lectured extensively on voir dire examinations, and served as a witness on matters involving attorneys’ fees and legal ethics. He has been involved in many complex civil and commercial cases, including lead local counsel in the Exxon XTO merger, the largest merger in the United States at the time, and has worked on numerous complex, multistate transactions. One of only three attorneys nationwide to try a class action case to verdict, Puls was also involved in one of the largest anti-trust cases in Texas, resulting in a verdict with findings of price-fixing in the food industry. He also obtained one of the largest verdicts in Texas for defamation involving the Pierce Marshall/Anna Nicole Smith litigation.

Haney has represented clients in litigation matters throughout Texas, including wrongful death, personal injury, fraud, breach of contract and patent and trademark infringement. He has handled complex business matters, such as overseeing multistate litigation and investigation of a public utility, licensed phone companies as public utilities, drafted tariffs throughout the United States, and negotiated public rights of way. On two occasions, he obtained verdicts that qualified as one of the Top 100 verdicts in the United States for that year.

Haney is a past president and board member of the Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Fort Worth Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Kaiser most recently was the general counsel and chief legal officer of a lending institution and was previously a partner with the law firms of Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP and McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore LLP. She has extensive experience in representing clients in litigation, bankruptcy, banking and finance, regulatory, farming and ranching, and administrative law matters. She is immediate past-president and barrister member of the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court and is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation.

Banking & Finance

Liberty Bank appointed Justin Coon as vice president/commercial lender in the bank’s Hurst location. Coon has 10 years of experience in commercial lending.

Mike Carter has been named vice president lending for Heritage Land Bank’s Fort Worth branch. Previously, Carter was the senior vice president of First Financial Bank in Aledo and Crockett National Bank in Weatherford. He has served on the Alumni Executive MBA Board for Texas Christian University for five years, has been a board member and treasurer for the Parker County Hospital District Board since 1996 and has been vice chairman of the Weatherford Regional Medical Center Board for three years.

Honors & Awards

The Fort Worth Independent School District named Darcy Deupree and Miranda Tacoronti as the District Teachers of the Year. Deupree is the 2016 Secondary District Teacher of the Year. She has taught for eight years at Southwest High School in the Career and Technology Program of Choice focusing on audio/video production. Tacoronti, a fifth-grade bilingual reading teacher at Versia Williams Elementary School, is the 2016 Elementary District Teacher of the Year. Each winner received a $5,000 honorarium from Central Market/H-E-B.

Firefighter Shane Harmon, a 10-year veteran of the Fort Worth Fire Department, earned the Liberty Mutual Firemark Award for Heroism. Liberty Mutual Insurance will present a grant of $10,000 to the department, which will be used to fund community events and outreach. In August 2015, Harmon rescued a victim from a car involved in a crash that eventually caught on fire. Harmon sustained second-degree burns and a shoulder injury that required multiple surgeries. The victim in the crash is still recovering.

The Texas Bankers Foundation honored Patricia Wagers, executive vice president and cashier for Woodhaven National Bank, with the 50-Year Banker Award during TBA’s 132nd annual convention on May 6 in Grapevine. Wagers began her banking career as a bookkeeper at First National Bank in Columbus, Mississippi. In 1981, she moved to Fort Worth and has worked for Overton Bank & Trust, Frost Bank, Arlington National Bank and Woodhaven National Bank. During her career, Wagers has been a bookkeeper, assistant head bookkeeper, teller, collection teller, lending motor bank supervisor, note department supervisor and cashier. Wagers was a member and leader of the Fort Worth Bankers’ Wives Club, the National Association of Bank Women and Bank Administration Institute.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce is among the nation’s top economic development agencies to be recognized by Site Selection’s Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development. This is the eighth time in 12 years that the Fort Worth Chamber has received this distinction, which was formerly known as the Top Groups.

The Texas Bankers Foundation presented a Cornerstone Award to LegacyTexas Bank for its Honor our Veterans holiday giving campaign. The Plano-based bank chose the VA Home of the Brave Community Living Center as its charitable cause for 2015. The bank matched employee contributions, bringing the total to more than $23,000. These funds were used to donate 130 care packages filled with personal care items to the center’s residents. Employees also volunteered at the center, providing and installing holiday decor and delivering care packages.

Children’s Lighthouse Learning Center has received World-Class Franchise certification from the Franchise Research Institute.


Independent insurance broker Lockton has created two new business teams to align its Texas operations. Lockton’s Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth property-casualty operations will combine into a single operation under the leadership of Tim Kelly, chairman and CEO. Kelly has been an executive with Lockton since 2001 in Houston. Frank Scardino will continue as president of the Dallas property-casualty business. Bruce Sammis, a Lockton executive since 1998, was named chairman and CEO of the firm’s employee benefits operations in Texas, which includes Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

IMA Financial Group Inc., the ninth-largest independent insurance broker in the country, has acquired Dallas-based Waldman Bros. for an undisclosed amount. Waldman CEO Steve Waldman will assume a new role as president of IMA/Waldman Texas, and IMA’s Rob Broz will serve as IMA/Waldman president Dallas-Fort Worth. Michael Waldman will become executive vice president of the IMA/Waldman Texas Employee Benefits division. Todd Chanon will serve as executive vice president of IMA/Waldman and chief operating officer of Signature Select LLC Texas, an IMA/Waldman company, to oversee small-business lines and high-net-worth clients.

Nonprofit Organizations

Alexis Nguyen is the community engagement manager at TECH Fort Worth and will direct the personal and digital representation of the business incubator throughout its communities. Nguyen had been at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway the past five-plus years, most recently as assistant manager for agriculture marketing, specialty grains. She was responsible for collaborating with government officials and shippers on the growth and profitability of the pulse and specialty grains markets. Nguyen runs a software startup called Estimake, a planning tool for people who are into do-it-yourself projects such as crafts, decor and consumer electronics.

Please send newsmakers to Betty Dillard at

GameStop co-founder to step down

Richard “Dick” Fontaine, co-founder and board member of GameStop Corp., will retire at the end of June.

Fontaine, along with Dan DeMatteo and Len Riggio, founded what would later become GameStop Corp. in 1996. He served as CEO from November 1996 to February 2002 and chairman of the board from February 2002 until August 2008. From August 2008 until June 2010, he was executive chairman, and eventually he became chairman international from June 2010 until March 2013.

Under Fontaine’s leadership, GameStop grew from a small, mall-based store chain into the world’s largest video game specialty retailer with more than 7,000 stores operating in 14 countries.

“Dick has been a good friend and a trusted business partner of mine for almost 30 years. As a founding member of GameStop, he has been instrumental in the development of the culture that has given us the ability to develop a high rate of change in an ever-changing business,” said DeMatteo, executive chairman.

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