Matt focuses on contract-related litigation and class actions, particularly in the oil and gas, financial services, and insurance industries.

Overview

Focused on opportunities to win or resolve cases from the outset, Matt has successfully taken cases to trial in state, federal and appellate courts. He also does appellate work and convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in a class action he took over on appeal. The Justices rendered an opinion in his clients' favor in a case that was recognized as one of the ten most influential decisions in 2014. 

For his oil and gas clients, Matt represents exploration and production (E&P), pipeline and refining companies on key strategic issues, including antitrust royalty owner, flaring and high water mark class actions, disputes and fraud investigations. He oversees key client projects and works with unregulated pipeline companies.

In his multi-faceted practice, Matt provides litigation counsel to banks, financial institutions and financial services companies. He advises insurance companies, brokers and agents, and policyholders in D&O, E&O and EPLI claims, coverage issues and disputes, including crop insurance. Matt provides general outside counsel on business and litigation issues, and often advises on non-litigation matters.

Experience

Oil & Gas

Successfully represented clients in fourteen royalty owner and overriding royalty owner class actions and multiple individual royalty claims in both federal and state courts and two class action arbitrations in several states (including Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Kansas), which cases collectively sought over $2.2 billion worth of unpaid or underpaid royalties and were all resolved by favorable judgments or settlements that required clients to pay a total of only $15 million.

Regularly represent E&P companies in operator/non-operator disputes, oilfield service provider overbilling disputes, fraud investigations, title disputes, lease termination disputes, and surface damage and right-of-way disputes. 

Lead trial counsel for an oil and gas production company and a gathering company in a royalty class action in which the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and resolved a removal issue in clients' favor. Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. LLC v. Owens (2014) 

Obtained dismissal of a class action brought by mineral rights owners, which is one of the few recent novel cases premised on antitrust claims concerning an AMI, and successfully represented clients defending four other antitrust royalty owner class actions.

Obtained dismissal of a class action for the largest oil and gas producer at the time in the Williston Basin concerning royalties on the value of the flared gas from all of its wells in North Dakota.

Obtained dismissal of a class action disputing the ownership of mineral rights based on the ordinary high water mark in North Dakota.

Tried and won an arbitration of one of the rare cases taken to judgment concerning the reasonableness of actual costs or deductions taken into consideration when calculating oil and gas royalties. Defended client against claims by overriding royalty interest owners concerning the applicable AMI, obligations under a joint development agreement, and the client's ability to consider compression and related gathering costs in calculating the royalty payments. Obtained a federal court judgment confirming and adopting the ruling that the gas was in a marketable condition at the well and the post-production costs were reasonable. 

Defended pipeline company in the seminal oil and gas royalty owner class action settlement case, which included antitrust claims, in the Federal District Court of Colorado. The approval of the settlement agreement was vigorously contested on appeal to the Tenth Circuit, which affirmed the trial court, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari. Rutter & Wilbanks Corp. v. Shell Oil Co., et al. (10th Cir. 2002), cert. denied (2003).

Defeated class certification for a client in two multi-defendant royalty and overriding royalty interest owner class action cases in Texas state court (which court certified the classes against other defendants) and later favorably settled the cases. 

Tried and won a multi-defendant class arbitration in New Mexico and obtained a contested federal court judgment in favor of a pipeline company, defending it against claims that it had breached a class action settlement agreement in the calculation of its tariff, which was a factor in the determination of royalty and other payments to the class.

Successfully defended a client in a regulatory hearing before the Kansas Corporations Commission (KCC) and obtained an industry-favorable ruling that the current lessee or working interest owner did not have responsibility for plugging hundreds of abandoned wells drilled by prior lessee(s).

Oversee several contested and non-contested matters before the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) for various clients.

Represent growing E&P companies in acquiring various oil and gas leases and related exploration and production equipment and assets.

Assisted clients structure affiliated and unaffiliated wellhead sales contracts and gathering, transportation and processing contracts, audit their royalty payment processes and draft new oil and gas lease forms.

Represent refining company in acquiring technology, equipment, and real estate for refining operations.

Regularly represent and assist unregulated interstate CO2 pipeline company on common carrier, tariff methodology, pricing, capacity, expansion, and reporting issues.

Financial Services

Avoided shareholder derivative claim by bank shareholder who threatened to sue based on the bank's failure to redeem shares and subsequent decline in the value of those shares. 

Obtained multiple pre-trial monetary judgments in favor of clients, a bank and servicing agent, who were sued by borrowers alleging improper foreclosure and mortgage fraud based on creative strategy involving counterclaims and motions for judgment on the pleadings. 

Defended mortgage company in wrongful foreclosure and unlawful detainer actions.

Defended credit card company against a default judgment and claims by account holder in a credit dispute. 

Defended the directors of a public premium finance and trucking company in two nationwide class actions and derivative lawsuits arising from an attempted management buyout and sale of the company, the sale of certain assets and ultimate liquidation of the company, and ultimately settled both cases for a quarter of the D&O policy limits. 

Represent banks and other financial institutions in responding to subpoenas requesting customer information.

Insurance

Often handle insurance coverage issues in various types of policies that provide coverage to the underlying lawsuit or claim client is defending, including but not limited to several cases listed above. 

Successfully resolved and settled claims against insurance broker asserted by broker's client that the broker had provided notice to the wrong carrier, and then provided untimely notice to another insurance company for a claim for which there arguably was no coverage due to the prior acts exclusion.

Represented health insurance company in defending multiple coverage claims and a class action by certain health care providers. 

Defended several crop insurance companies in ten consolidated lawsuits initiated by approximately 450 Minnesota sugar beet growers, and prosecuting the insurance companies' claims against the federal government for violations of various statutes and regulations. 

Represented several crop insurance companies prosecute their reinsurance claims against the federal government concerning prevented planting claims and alleged violations of various statutes and regulations.

Represent crop insurance agent coop in lawsuits against it former president and in its ongoing corporate governance issues and contract negotiations with insurance companies, other coops and business partners.

Regularly represent crop insurance agent coop in its contract negotiations for various products and general corporate governance issues.

News & Insights

Speaking Engagements

Shotguns, Locked Gates, & Indignation: Litigating Temporary Restraining Orders & Injunctive Relief in Surface Use Disputes, Presented at the Kansas Bar Association 7th Annual Spring Oil, Gas & Mineral Law CLE, March 2, 2018. A version of this paper was published in the RMMLF Journal, and an earlier version of this paper was originally published by the RMMLF in the manual of the Special Institute on Oil & Gas Agreements: Surface Use in the 21st Century, May 17-18, 2017, Denver, Colorado.

Shotguns, Locked Gates, & Indignation: Litigating Temporary Restraining Orders & Injunctive Relief in Surface Use Disputes, presented at the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Surface Use in the 21st Century Special Institute, May 17-18, 2017, Denver, Colorado. This paper was originally published by the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation in the manual of the Special Institute on Oil & Gas Agreements: Surface Use in the 21st Century, May 17-18, 2017, Denver, Colorado and selected by the Foundation for publication in the RMMLF Journal.

Royalty Litigation Update – Where We Have Been, Where We Are, & Where We May Be Going In Kansas and Beyond, presented at the 62nd Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Annual Institute, July 21-23, 2016, Squaw Valley, California. This paper was originally published by the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation in the Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2016).

Heating Up and Cooling Down – Recent Developments on the Flaring Front in North Dakota and Beyond, presented at the Institute for Energy Law’s 66th Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference, February 19-20, 2015, Houston Texas. This paper was originally published by the Institute for Energy Law (part of the Center for American & International Law) in the materials for the 66th Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference February 19-20, 2015, Houston Texas.

Recognitions

Recognitions

Ranked in Benchmark Litigation as a Future Local Star, 2011-2018

Selected by Missouri Lawyers Weekly as one of 35 "Up and Coming" lawyers who "stand out for their dedication to learning, teaching and improving their communities," 2007

Named one of Kansas City's 40 Under Forty community leaders by Ingram's Magazine, 2005

Professional & Civic Activities

Professional & Civic Activities

Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Trustee, 2016-present

  • Elected Board of Directors-at-Large for 2018-2019
  • Regional Annual Institute, Chair, 2017-present
  • Special Institutes Committee, 2012-present

Institute for Energy Law Advisory Board, Oil & Gas Litigation Committee, 2011-present

St. Luke's Hospital, Paint the Town Committee, 2013-2016; Event Co-Chair, 2015

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City, 2002-2016

Kansas City Tomorrow Leadership Program sponsored by the Civic Counsel of Kansas City, 2003-2004

Centurions Leadership Training Program sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, 2000-2002

Admissions

  • Kansas, 1999
  • Missouri, 1999
  • Indiana, 1995 (inactive)

Education

Northwestern University, J.D., cum laude, 1995

University of Notre Dame, B.A., Philosophy, magna cum laude, 1992

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