Matt focuses on contract-related and environmental litigation and class actions, particularly in the oil and gas, financial services, and insurance industries.
Although he has an impressive track record of resolving cases quickly and efficiently, Matt is a trial lawyer who has successfully taken cases to trial in state and federal courts throughout the country. He also does appellate work and has won cases at every level, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Matt focuses on how the matters he handles for his clients affect their business objectives and bottom lines. As a result, Matt is often asked to oversee or provide input on strategic and non-litigation matters.
Oil & Gas
Matt has successfully represented and advised exploration and production (E&P), midstream, pipeline, and refining companies in a wide variety of matters, including 5 antitrust class actions; 19 royalty owner and overriding royalty owner class actions (seeking more than $2.5 billion in damages and collectively resolved through favorable judgments or settlement for only $15 million); numerous individual royalty and overriding royalty owner lawsuits; lease termination and quiet title disputes; right-of-way and surface damage disputes; operator/non-operator and AMI issues; oilfield service overbilling disputes; fraud investigations; trespass and sub-surface trespass issues; gas plant construction claims; gathering, transportation and wellhead sales contracts and affiliate sales issues; the purchase and sale of leasehold interests and E&P assets; and state regulatory issues. Matt also has experience working with unregulated interstate pipeline companies in all sorts of business issues and litigation disputes. He has handled matters for client in this industry in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.
Matt has represented refining, rendering, landfill, and other clients in several industries in spill and emission claims and class actions. These include oil or chemical spills, surface damage and contamination claims, airborne emissions claims, and nuisance claims and odor nuisance class actions.
Matt has represented banks and financial institutions in shareholder derivative and fiduciary duty disputes, credit card litigation, foreclosure and mortgage fraud claims. He has represented other financial service companies in management buy-out litigation, and derivative and fiduciary duty claims.
Matt has represented insurance companies, brokers and agents, and policyholders in D&O claims, E&O claims, EPLI claims and various coverage issues and disputes. He also has represented crop insurance companies and agents.
Lead appellate counsel for a client challenging an Indiana appellate court successor liability ruling limiting the distinction between asset sales and stock sales. Obtained transfer to and reversal by the Indiana Supreme Court. New Nello Operating Co., LLC v. CompressAir (Ind. 2021).
Oil & Gas and Environmental
Took over a royalty class action case on appeal for a production company and a gathering company. Obtained certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately resolved a removal issue in clients' favor, leading to a favorable settlement. Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. LLC v. Owens (2014)
Lead relationship counsel for refinery conversion – renewable diesel project.
Lead counsel for two of the five consolidated royalty class actions and obtained favorable ruling from the North Dakota Supreme Court rejecting claim for oil royalties and resulting in dismissal of over a dozen putative class actions. Blasi v. Bruin E&P, LLC (N.D. 2021).
Lead counsel in two separate odor nuisance class actions – one for a landfill owner and the other for a rendering company – developed a defense strategy resulting in an early favorable settlement and significance costs savings for each client.
Retained in an ongoing gas plant construction case to be lead trial counsel and developed a trial strategy resulting in the exclusions of potentially adverse evidence and, ultimately, a favorable settlement.
Obtained dismissal of a class action brought by mineral rights owners, which is one of the few cases premised on antitrust claims concerning an AMI, and also successfully represented other clients defending four other antitrust royalty owner class actions.
Represented multiple E&P companies in overbilling and fraud investigations of oilfield service providers and recovered millions of dollars in unwarranted charges.
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.
Represented E&P, pipeline, and refining companies in environmental, contamination, surface damage, and livestock claims resulting from spills, ruptures, or leaks.
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. Obtained a federal court judgment confirming and adopting the ruling that the gas was in a marketable condition at the well and all 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, 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 E&P, midstream, and pipeline companies in right-of-way and easement claims concerning drilling, well and pipeline maintenance, and pipeline construction.
Assist both E&P and midstream clients structure affiliated and unaffiliated wellhead sales contracts and gathering, transportation and processing contracts.
Audit clients’ royalty payment processes, and draft or revise 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.
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.
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 insurance and reinsurance claims.
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.
Represented 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.
News & Insights
Preparing You Case for Trial, presented at the Natural Resources and Energy Law Foundation’s Litigating an Energy, Natural Resources, or Environmental Case Special Institute, May 5-6, 2022, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Presenter & Moderator for the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation’s Current Landscape of Royalty Dispute Litigation Webinar, October 13, 2021.
Royalty Clauses – What Is Everyone Fighting About (and How Do I Avoid it)? presented to the Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen, September 15, 2021.
"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. 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. This paper was also 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.
Professional & Civic Activities
Professional & Civic Activities
Natural Resources Energy Law Foundation (f/k/a Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation), Board of Directors, 2018-2021; Trustee-at-Large, 2016-2018; 2022 Annual Institute Section Co-Chair; Regional Annual Institute, Chair, 2017-present; Co-Chair, Enhanced Oil Recovery Special Institute, San Antonio, May 2015; and 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
Practices & Industries
- Kansas, 1999
- Missouri, 1999
- Indiana, 2020
Northwestern University, J.D., cum laude, 1995
University of Notre Dame, B.A., Philosophy, magna cum laude, 1992