Practice/Industry Group Overview
In addition to our regular representation of energy clients before federal and state regulatory and administrative bodies, our seasoned litigators bring to bear a solid knowledge of the energy industry, complex energy markets, and energy-related assets in federal and state courts, including complex commercial disputes, energy company bankruptcies, environmental litigation, and condemnation actions.
Complex Commercial Disputes
Our litigation attorneys have earned national recognition for winning complex energy disputes. Illustrative successes of significance include:
- Successfully defended trial of a $9 million claim for breach of contract to sell long-term natural gas supply contract with an associated package of derivative hedging agreements.
- Represents major regional gasoline retailer and appointed Defendants’ Liaison Counsel on behalf of more than 140 defendants in a Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practices Litigation (MDL) proceeding.
- Represented major segment of natural gas pipeline industry in nationwide class action alleging gas wellhead mis-measurement. Defeated multiple class certification motions.
- Successful prosecution of a more than $20 million U.S. Tax Court case, with a finding for taxpayer on proper method of depreciation of natural gas gathering assets.
- Won an arbitration of price re-determination clause in long-term gas purchase agreements.
- Represented gas gathering companies in Qui Tam MDL proceeding alleging fraudulent underpayment of royalties to U.S. government on gas produced from federal leases. Clients ultimately dismissed without any payment to relator or to government. Won summary judgment in a state court proceeding involving obligations under farm-out agreements and unit operating agreements.
- Won summary judgment in a state court proceeding involving obligations under farm-out agreements and unit operating agreements.
- Won a substantial oil pipeline contract arbitration proceeding resulting in refunds of approximately $9 million to our refiner client from a large product pipeline and future costs savings of an equal value.
- Represented independent producers in complex natural gas contract litigation in federal court involving pricing, take-or-pay, contract termination and roll-over issues, resulting in more than $24 million in direct breach of contract damage awards, $50 million in above-market pricing for a period of almost a decade and ultimately a contract buy-out exceeding $100 million.
- Managed all litigation nationwide for Fortune 500 energy company for over 10 years. Handled or managed others handling hundreds of different cases, including gas, power and coal trading and marketing disputes, gathering system and intrastate pipeline litigation, electrocution and gas explosion cases, varieties of power plant litigation, and E&P disputes.
- Successful defense of electric utility in Court of Federal Claims tax case. Court held that “Digger Derrick” line trucks used to construct electric line were not subject to Federal Highway Motor Vehicle excise taxes.
- Successful prosecution of property damage claim against major gas turbine generator manufacturer for explosion of unit at gas peaking plant. Explosion caused by defective design of gas flow controls during startup cycle.
- Precedent-setting win in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals involving the scope of the “gathering exemption” under the Natural Gas Act.
- Represented a public utility in state court proceedings associated with the construction and potential removal of a 315 MW power plant and related transmission facilities, which was alleged to have been constructed in violation of state law.
- Represents natural gas storage owner/operator in suit by former employee claiming non-payment of bonus for alleged discovery of previously unknown substantial gas reserves in underground storage facility.
We have actively participated as creditors’ counsel in numerous energy company bankruptcies, including the most significant cases in recent years. We have served on and chaired ad hoc and official creditors' committees in the Calpine, Enron, Mirant, North American Energy Corporation, and Kimball Trading Company proceedings, as well as those of smaller industry participants. Our attorneys were instrumental in developing case law that created the basis for the Bankruptcy Code amendments that established the special rights accorded to forward contracts, repurchase agreements, and netting agreements.
We have a national environmental litigation practice that includes permitting disputes, pipeline ruptures, spills and releases, and more than 200 Superfund sites, and which involves civil and criminal enforcement as well as insurance coverage. Our clients include, among others, companies in the energy, mining, manufacturing and transportation industries.
We have successfully litigated numerous condemnation issues with respect to fee property for generation facilities and substations, and with respect to easements for power and natural gas transmission and distribution lines and for water distribution lines. We regularly assist clients with a variety of related issues, including issues relating to public right-of-way, dedicated utility and private easements, plat vacation, and easements by prescription.