Mr. Norman has extensive experience in energy litigation, both at the trial and appellate level. He chairs the firm's Energy Litigation Group and is co-chair of its Appellate Practice Group.
His background includes representation of energy companies in disputes with lessors and other royalty owners, both private as well as public body claimants, involving issues pertaining to royalty valuation and prudence of marketing, asserted both as individual actions as well as significant class actions. His practice has also included representing oil and gas companies in contractual disputes arising under joint operating agreements and other contractual undertakings with respect to a wide variety of claims, including actions relating to the parties' audit rights under such agreements, operator gross negligence claims, contractual indemnity matters, and efforts to remove the operator from operatorship. He has defended energy clients in a wide variety of other matters, including suits brought by landowners and others asserting natural resource damage, cases raising issues with respect to the severance tax liability of oil and gas producers, claims involving valuation of products extracted at gas plants, and issues involving the title to producing or prospective properties. On behalf of pipeline companies, Mr. Norman has been retained in matters involving obstructions or interference with pipeline rights as well as cases involving the validity and enforceability of right of way agreements. Mr. Norman's representation of clients in these matters includes experience at the trial as well as appellate counsel level in both state and federal forums as well as jurisdictions outside Louisiana, including Texas and California.
In addition, he represents companies in commercial litigation involving business torts, antitrust and trade regulation and transaction disputes. Mr. Norman is listed in The Best Lawyers in America.
His significant energy litigation achievements include:
•Represented Cimarex Energy Company against a claim by a lessor seeking profits from the financial trading activities Cimarex used to hedge against price fluctuations of its oil and gas production as royalties under the lease. The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted summary judgment in favor of Cimarex, and the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Cimarex Energy Co. v. Chastant, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180815 (W.D. La. Dec. 18, 2012), affirmed by 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 16030 (5th Cir. Aug. 2, 2013). This decision is believed to be the first of its kind expressly recognizing that royalty owners have no claim on profits made from financial trading activities used to hedge against price fluctuations.
•Mr. Norman was retained by Dow Chemical Company as appellate counsel to assist the trial team in seeking discretionary review by the Louisiana Supreme Court of an intermediate appellate court decision which had reversed a district court judgment dismissing class action plaintiffs' claims for punitive damages. The district court decision had recognized that, in a case brought under the Louisiana Groundwater Act in which the plaintiff class had obtained an order requiring Dow to remediate alleged contamination of an aquifer, there was no basis to consider the class claims for punitive damages because plaintiff class members were not awarded individual compensatory damages. The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal had reversed this determination, finding that the remediation award was, standing alone, a sufficient predicate to allow for a class trial of the punitive damage claims. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted Dow's writ application and, with an accompanying order, reinstated the district court decision. Robichaux v. Dow Chemical Co., No. 2012-CC-1534 (La. Supreme Court Oct. 12, 2012).
•As trial and appellate counsel, represented a producing company in a matter asserting land damage/remediation claims arising from historical operations on the property. The matter was dismissed by the state district court on exceptions and the dismissal was completely affirmed by the appellate court. Kinder Gas, Inc. v. Reynolds, (La. App. 3 Cir. 02/01/12), 2012 La App LEXIS 116 (2-1-12), 84 So. 3d 395.
•Represented a major oil and gas company at trial and appellate level in its successful defense of a damage claim brought by a landowner asserting that the company's pipeline and related facilities constituted a trespass. After a judgment of dismissal was secured in the federal district court, the dismissal was affirmed by the federal Fifth Circuit in Gulf & Mississippi River Transp. Co. v. Chevron Pipeline Co., No. 11-30443 (5th Cir. 10/25/2011), 451 Fed. Appx. 372.
•Represented an oil and gas producing company in an arbitration brought by landowners seeking an increase in the valuation of overriding royalties based on allegations with respect to the unenforceability of a decades-old agreement setting a cap on such valuation. After proceedings in the Louisiana state court to compel arbitration and a multi-day arbitration occurring during 2010-2011, the claims were dismissed in their entirety.
•Retained as appellate counsel in the matter of Marin v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, 2009-C-2368 (La. 10/19/2010), 48 So. 3d 234. This was an important land damage/legacy case brought by plaintiffs/landowners. After trial, the district court rendered a significant award in favor of the landowners. This award was affirmed on appeal by the Louisiana First Circuit. The writ application to the Louisiana Supreme Court was granted, and that Court subsequently reversed the lower court judgments in their entirety on prescriptive grounds
•Engaged as appellate counsel after an adverse judgment in a Louisiana district court, secured a reversal by the Louisiana Supreme Court of a multi-million dollar statutory damages judgment entered against an oil and gas operator arising from allegations that a concursus had been improperly filed. Cimarex Energy Co. v. Mauboules, 2009-1170, 2010 WL 1531363 (La. 4/9/10), -- So. 3d --.
•After trial, was retained as appellate counsel for a major oil and gas producer against whom a Louisiana district court had entered judgment assessing damages with respect to operations conducted on leased premises to support a drilling operation on an adjoining tract. This trial court judgment was reversed in its entirety by the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal and confirmed by a writ denial from the Louisiana Supreme Court. Fuller v. XTO Energy, Inc., No. 43-454 (La. App. 2d Cir. 8/13/08), 989 So. 2d 298.
•Represented a major energy company in class actions brought after Hurricane Katrina asserting liability arising from pipeline and other exploration activities that allegedly increased the destructive impacts of Katrina on individuals and businesses in South Louisiana as well as separate class actions seeking damage for oil spills resulting from the effect of the storm. These actions were dismissed by the federal district court upon motions to dismiss filed by the entire defense group. George Barasich, et al. v. Shell Pipeline Company, et al., United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Civil Action No. 05-4180, Section “J” (3), 2006 U.S. Dist LEXIS 84389; George Barasich, et al. v. Columbia Gulf Transmission Co.,, et al., United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Civil Action No. 05-4161, Section “A” (3) (consolidated with Charles Villa, et al. v. Columbia Gulf Transmission Co., et al., Cause No. 05-4569), 467 F.Supp. 2d 676.
•At the direction of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Mr. Norman was appointed counsel for an indigent inmate on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary with respect to post-conviction relief. Mr. Norman argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court a significant issue involving Equal Protection claims as to funding of the defense. State ex rel. Jimmy Williams v. Louisiana, No. 04-KP-575 (La. 12/01/2004), 888 So. 2d 792. The Court's decision accepted the position asserted on behalf of Mr. Williams, resulting in a significant change in the way post-conviction efforts are funded. This matter was recently concluded through agreement with the State to remove the death sentence in return for a negotiated and reduced sentence.
•Was trial counsel to a major oil and gas producer in a suit brought in Louisiana federal court by royalty owners alleging improper payment of royalties and imprudent conduct. After a multi-week trial, the plaintiffs' claims were dismissed in their entirety, which dismissal was affirmed by the federal appellate court. Texaco Inc. v. Lainelife Associates, No. 02-30822 (La. App. 5th Cir. 5/28/03), 69 Fed. Appx. 658; USDC, Middle District of Louisiana, No. 94-539 “A.”
•Was trial counsel for a major oil and gas producer in the federal MDL 1206 proceedings consolidated into the federal district court in Corpus Christi Texas. This highly significant litigation involved claims brought across the country alleging that energy producers had improperly valued crude oil for purposes of their respective royalty obligations. These claims were settled on a nationwide class basis and Mr. Norman participated in the contested fairness hearing in federal court which approved the settlement against claims asserted by other claimants that the settlement was inadequate or otherwise unfair. In Re Lease Oil Antitrust Litigation (No. II); Cameron Parish School Board, et al. v. Texaco, Inc., et al., 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18425 (Tx. 6/5/98), 16 F. Supp. 2d 744.
•Represented on appeal out-of-state director against whom a jury delivered a verdict of more than $10 million. The case involved an alleged violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act. Mr. Norman's efforts on appeal resulted in the Louisiana appellate court reversing the jury verdict. United Group of National Paper Distributors v. Vinson, No. 27739 (La. App. 2d Cir. 1/25/96), 666 So. 2d 1338.
•Represented at trial and appellate level the Central Bank of Nicaragua in a matter brought against that entity by a former government official seeking funds on deposit in Miami and New Orleans banks. The matter was concluded in the district court level by a judgment of dismissal recognizing the sovereign immunity of the Bank under federal law. This ruling was affirmed by the 5th Circuit. DeSanchez v. Banco Central de Nicaragua, No. 84-3247 (5th Cir. 1985), 770 F. 2d 1385.
•Successfully defended an integrated oil company against allegations of a violation of price discrimination under the federal Robinson-Patman Act. The case resulted in a judgment of no liability at the district court level, which was affirmed by the federal appeals court. L&L Oil Company v. Murphy Oil Corp., No. 81-3175 (La. App. 5th Cir. 5/7/82), 674 F. 2d 1113.
•Served as counsel for a large producer in a suit brought on behalf of the State of Louisiana. The lawsuit alleged multimillion-dollar royalty underpayments dating back several decades and involving more than 100 state leases. The suit, which involved every aspect of public body leasing, required hundreds of depositions and numerous hearings before a Louisiana federal court. Mr. Norman was integrally involved in the negotiation and settlement, and in the drafting of a settlement agreement that regulates precisely the lease relationship between Louisiana and the producer.
•He has served as counsel to several producers in disputes with pipeline purchasers of oil and gas in connection with the buyers' efforts to reduce or eliminate their obligation to take. These matters were all resolved, either through judgment or other resolution, on terms completely favorable to the producers/sellers of the product.
•Represented an oil and gas company in a dispute with its operator in connection with a significant and mature producing field onshore California. This matter involved claims by Mr. Norman's client that the operator had conducted operations not in accordance with good oilfield practice and had improperly assessed charges under the contract's accounting provisions. This case was resolved on terms completely favorable to the firm's client and resulted in the client assuming operatorship of the field.