News from this practice

Lightfoot lawyers have represented clients in disputes across all phases of the energy industry, ranging from cases involving oil and gas exploration and production to cases arising from transportation, refining, and marketing activities.  These matters have involved complex disputes in state and federal courts across the country and in domestic and international arbitrations.

We frequently handle high-stakes business disputes related to various energy-related agreements, including asset purchase and sale agreements, oil and gas leases, joint operating agreements, joint development agreements, drilling contracts, supply and trading agreements, and transportation agreements. Among other areas, our lawyers have deep experience with JOA disputes; royalty litigation; AMI disputes; force majeure claims; take-or-pay provisions and minimum volume commitments; and claims arising from the sale of upstream and midstream assets.  We also handle environmental contamination and indemnification claims, both for active operations—including drilling, transportation, and refining—and for legacy liabilities.

Our clients vary in size and focus, from some of the world’s largest oil and gas producing and refining companies, to independents in the areas of exploration and production, drilling, and transportation.  We also represent oilfield services companies, engineering companies, and other service companies in the industry.

As a boutique trial firm, we focus on efficiency and results for our clients, and we staff our cases accordingly.  We also have the ability to offer flexible arrangements that make sense for each client and each case, rather than being tied to billable hours.  In short, we’re a lean trial firm with energy expertise.  And we leverage our experience and understanding of our clients’ business to efficiently resolve energy disputes, whether that entails an early settlement or navigating the case through a trial and appeal.

Representative Matters

  • Representation of ExxonMobil in the appeal of a jury verdict of over $3.5 billion involving allegations of breach of contract and fraud relating to natural gas royalties.  The Alabama Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.  After another $3.5 billion judgment was entered on remand, we again appealed the judgment, and the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the punitive award in its entirety and remanded the case with the instruction that the compensatory award be reduced to $51 million.
  • Representation of an international energy company in a crude oil supply and trading dispute related to operations in the D-J Basin.  The plaintiff alleged that our client breached a crude supply agreement by failing to deliver agreed-upon volumes to a crude-by-rail facility in Colorado and by failing to pay alleged take-or-pay fees for undelivered volumes.  The plaintiff also claimed that our client committed fraud in connection with alleged discussions related to an expansion of the plaintiff’s crude-by-rail facility.  After the trial court gave the plaintiff an opportunity to conduct extensive discovery, the court granted summary judgment dismissing all claims against our client.
  • Representation of an independent oil and gas company in defending against breach of contract and fraud claims related to the sale of oil and gas properties.  The buyer brought breach of contract and fraud claims based on alleged misrepresentations or failures to disclose the environmental condition of properties, and the buyer sought both damages and indemnification related to the properties.  After working up the case—including depositions and expert analysis that uncovered the true grounds and scope of the plaintiff’s claims—the parties were able to reach a favorable business resolution.
  • Representation of an independent producer in a lawsuit to prevent a surface owner from interfering with the producer’s right to drill and service wells on a large tract of land, which was resolved favorably after obtaining injunctive relief prohibiting the surface owner’s interference.
  • Representation of several oil companies in groundwater contamination litigation.
  • Representation of a major oil company in pipeline spill cases.
  • Representation of oil and chemical companies in major environmental contamination cases.