Liz Klingensmith's experience includes all aspects of litigation: Early case assessment, litigation risk analysis, alternative dispute resolution procedures including arbitration and mediation, large-scale discovery including electronic document collection, review and production, motion practice, pre-trial preparation, trial and settlement. She primarily focuses her litigation practice on disputes arising from oil and gas projects. As part of that practice, she frequently provides clients critical analysis of various oil and gas related transactions including joint operating agreements, master services agreements, procurement agreements, lease agreements, exploration and development agreements, joint venture agreements, purchase and sale agreements and various financing agreements.
In addition to her oil and gas experience, Liz has extensive experience litigating large scale commercial disputes that involve claims for breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, post-judgment enforcement, theft of trade secrets, breach of employment agreements, conversion, declaratory judgment and foreclosure, among others, in a wide array of industries that includes transportation, construction, banking, real estate and professional services.
Selected Client Representations
- Obtained favorable arbitration award on behalf of pipeline company against large valve manufacturer for damages, costs and attorney's fees incurred as a result of an inline inspection tool becoming lodged in a defective valve.
- Obtained favorable settlement on behalf of former owners of waterflood project related to alleged violations of Texas Railroad Commission Rules concerning injection wells.
- Successfully mediated oil and gas dispute to a favorable settlement on behalf of investment banker related to the rendition of financial advisory services in connection with the acquisition of oil and gas interests.
- Litigated dispute that concerned the construction of various provisions in a series of oil and gas leases including continuous operations and horizontal severance clauses.
- Advised clients in disputes involving former employees that concern breach of employment or confidentiality agreements and theft of trade secrets.
- Successfully obtained writ of garnishment and subsequent recovery of over $100,000 in post-judgment enforcement action.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of financial corporation for ownership of $14 million in proceeds.
- Prosecuted code violations and misdemeanors for the City of Houston Municipal Courts as a volunteer prosecutor.
Selected Publications and Presentations
- "Drilling Into Ambiguities In Oil And Gas Laws," Co-author with Jessica Rivera, Law360, March 28, 2012.
- "EPA Issues Draft Report on Well Water Contamination in Wyoming," Co-author, ABA Energy Litigation Section, February 2012.
- "On Shaky Grounds: EPA's Tentative Findings In Wyoming," Co-author, Oil and Gas Investor, February 2012.
- "Texas Signs Fracking Disclosure Bill Into Law," Energy Litigation News & Developments, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, June 24, 2011.
- "Boilerplate Clauses in Contracts: Avoiding Unintended Consequences," live webinar/teleconference presented by Strafford Publications, Inc., May 17, 2011.
- "House Bill Could Make Impairment of Mineral Estates a Compensable Regulatory Taking," Co-author with Megan Bibb, Energy Litigation News & Developments, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, April 5, 2011.
- "Senate Bill Seeks Required Disclosure of Chemicals in Fracking Fluid," Energy Litigation News & Developments, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, March 18, 2011.
- "Litigating Conflicting Procedures in Separate but Related Agreements," American Bar Association Section of Litigation, December 20, 2010.
- "A Watched Pot Never Boils: Preventing Boilerplate Provisions from Bubbling Over," Co-author, The Houston Lawyer, September/October 2010.
- Energy Law and Transactions, Cleantech Financing Chapter, Co-contributor, 2009-2010.
- "Trumping Boston's Mandate for Hybrid Taxis: Ophir v. City of Boston," ABA Energy Litigation Section Website, Case Note, December 2009.
- "Getting Documents from Financial Institutions," presented at the University of Houston Law Foundation Advanced Civil Discovery Seminar, April/May 2007.
- Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Edition in Energy & Natural Resources (2013)
- Commissioned by Governor Perry as a Yellow Rose of Texas (2010)
Selected Representative Experience
Settlement of a Trade Secrets Misappropriation Lawsuit
Secured a favorable settlement of a trade secrets misappropriation lawsuit in federal district court in North Carolina. Haynes and Boone represented the plaintiff, a technology company headquartered in Houston. On the third day of the jury trial, the defendants, a former plaintiff executive and his new company, announced their consent to an agreed permanent injunction and agreed to dismiss all of their counterclaims, pay all of plaintiff’s damages, surrender their inventory, and pay a portion of plaintiff’s attorney’s fees. The case involved the misappropriation of the formula for a proprietary catalyst used to treat hydrocarbons at refineries worldwide. The former executive claimed to have independently developed the formula after leaving the company, but shortly before trial began the formula was discovered in a spreadsheet that proved defendants’ claim was untrue.
Preferential Right Dispute
Represented defendant non-operator in preferential right dispute over assignments of working interest to other non-operator.
Advised non-operating working interest owner on dispute arising from a joint operating agreement and a participation agreement related to the disclosure of information related to existing, proposed, and future wells.
Haynesville Shale Lease Disputes
Litigated oil and gas lease dispute brought by lessors against lessees related to Haynesville shale leases and the alleged termination of leases pursuant to a horizontal severance clause despite continuous operations on the leased lands. Obtained favorable settlement and lease extensions.
West Texas Waterflood Project
Obtained partial summary judgment against breach of contract claims arising from the purchase of a waterflood project in West Texas and the alleged contractual duty to disclose plugging and abandonment obligations associated with shut-in wells on the property. Obtained favorable settlement of all other claims including those related to alleged violations of regulations affecting injection wells.
In re David Buren Wilson, No. 14-10-00045-CV, (Tex. App. -Houston[14th Dist.] Jan. 20, 2010) (orig. proceeding) (mem. op.)
Before the trial court and in a mandamus proceeding involving a dispute over the construction of the Texas Election Code, successfully defeated a potential opponent's attempt to have his name placed on the primary ballot.
In re Dorman, No. 14-10-00024-CV, (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Jan. 12, 2010], orig. proceeding)(mem. op.)
In a mandamus proceeding involving a dispute over the construction of the Texas Election Code, successfully defended the trial court’s removal from the ballot of a candidate for Harris County District Clerk.
Arbitration Over Breach of Warranties
Obtained a $4.3 million arbitration award for supermajor pipeline company affiliate after 2 weeks of arbitration hearings and collected 100 percent of the award against an international manufacturer of defective valves. The respondent vigorously contested liability and damages, which arose from a defective valve trapping an in-line-inspection tool and caused interruption in shipments on a major products pipeline in the southeastern United States. The award represented the pipeline company’s actual damages, attorneys’ fees, expert fees, and costs, as well as pre-award and post-award interest. Most of the award was for consequential damages that far exceeded the purchase price of the defective valves.
Exploration Trade Secret Claims
Represent defendant non-operator in tortious interference/equitable rescission dispute over erroneous assignments of oil and gas leasehold interests and trade secret claims related to a geologist now working for client's competitor.
Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation
Represent and counsel public and private entities in eminent domain and inverse condemnation actions including right-of-way acquisition, regulatory takings, valuation determinations, and utilities relocation.
Disaster Management and Response
Advised state and local officials regarding disaster response and management issues.
Tortious Interference/Equitable Rescission Dispute
Represent defendant non-operator in tortious interference/equitable rescission dispute over erroneous assignments of oil and gas leasehold interests.
Infrastructure - Rail
Represent public and private entities in all aspects of the bid, design, and build process relating to urban light-rail projects.
03/28/2012 - Law360 Guest Article: Drilling Into Ambiguities In Oil And Gas Laws
As the controversy surrounding hydraulic fracturing (hydro-fracking) and natural gas drilling ensues, a New York court upheld a town’s zoning ordinance banning natural gas drilling.
02/15/2012 - Oil and Gas Investor Guest Article: On Shaky Grounds - EPA's Tentative Findings In Wyoming
Pavillion is a very small town cast atop a sprawling desert in Wyoming. Huddled together in 108 dwellings covering no more than one-fifth of a square mile, the 231 residents confront the high desert’s extremes of heat and cold.
08/23/2011 - Fracking Legal Landscape Updated in Haynes and Boone White Paper
– Haynes and Boone, LLP energy attorneys have published an update to their comprehensive and highly regarded “American Law and Jurisprudence on Fracking,” a white paper that examines the legal, environmental and regulatory climate in active shale play states.
06/24/2011 - Texas Signs Fracking Disclosure Bill Into Law
On June 17, 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed the Disclosure of Composition of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Act H.B. 3328 into law.
04/05/2011 - House Bill Could Make Impairment of Mineral Estates a Compensable Regulatory Taking
Texas Representative James L. Keffer has introduced new legislation that would require cities to compensate mineral owners when city regulations diminish the value of mineral estates.
03/18/2011 - Senate Bill Seeks Required Disclosure of Chemicals in Fracking Fluid
Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey reintroduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act in Senate Bill S. 587 on March 15, 2011.
12/20/2010 - Litigating Conflicting Procedures in Separate but Related Agreements
Transactions often consist of multiple separate but related agreements. For example, the sale of an interest in real property may require the execution of a purchase agreement, guaranty, financing agreement, security agreements, and other agreements. The related agreements may contain conflicting provisions relating to arbitration of claims, forum selection, or choice of law.
10/01/2010 - A Watched Pot Never Boils: Preventing Boilerplate Provisions from Bubbling Over
When documenting a potential deal, attorneys and clients tend to focus on the "deal terms," like the sales price, and overlook seemingly innocuous boilerplate provisions. Failure to watch out for the potential pitfalls associated with typical boilerplate provisions can result in problematic litigation when the deal falls apart or a dispute arises. Transactional attorneys should avoid the false sense of security in boilerplate provisions, and consider such provisions with an eye toward future litigation.
08/24/2010 - Recent Statutory and Regulatory Developments Related to Hydraulic Fracturing in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio
The use of hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called "fracking," has made it economically possible to produce hydrocarbons, mainly gas, from the central Appalachian region of the eastern United States. Shale gas development from the Marcellus Shale is focused in four states: New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.