Industries & Practices
Oil & Gas
Immediate access to construct interstate gas pipeline
Served as appellate counsel in an appeal from a federal district court order granting a natural gas pipeline company immediate access to property in order to construct the pipeline. This was a case of first impression for the Sixth Circuit, as it considered whether to adopt the Sage approach. The Sage decision is the seminal case that outlines the process for obtaining injunctive relief to begin construction of a FERC-approved pipeline while the underlying condemnation/valuation case proceeds.
Oil and gas transactions and disputes
Provide Ohio-specific legal counsel to Gulfport Energy Corporation on a variety of transactional and litigation matters primarily involving title issues and oil and gas lease disputes, including several appeals.
Negotiation of a $1 billion electricity supply contract
The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) is the largest public retail energy aggregation in Ohio, serving about 900,000 electric and gas customers across 14 counties. NOPEC’s electric supplier abruptly notified NOPEC that it was terminating its contract, thus leaving NOPEC’s nearly half-million electric customers to return to utility service at higher rates. Bricker attorneys sprang into action to prevent NOPEC's customers from paying these increased rates. The team negotiated a new complex electricity supply contract with NOPEC's replacement supplier (worth approximately $1 billion); and, within 10 days, our client had signed a new three-year contract. With our assistance, NOPEC obtained two waivers from the PUCO to meet the expedited enrollment timeline. Meanwhile, within two weeks, our litigation team settled a TRO and injunction case involving the original supplier, which resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement payment to NOPEC. In addition, our energy litigation team dissolved an ex parte TRO issued against NOPEC to a competitor regarding the NOPEC customer enrollment process. We also obtained a complete dismissal of the competitor’s lawsuit on the basis that the PUCO had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.
Construction and operation of an 800 MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant
Provided comprehensive legal counsel to Clean Energy Future regarding the construction and operation of an 800 MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle power plant in northeast Ohio (Lordstown, Mahoning County, Ohio). We successfully represented the client through all phases of the Ohio Power Siting Board, including public hearings, OPSB staff investigations and an adjudicatory hearing, which resulted in the issuance of a certificate from the OPSB. In addition to the regulatory work, the firm served as Ohio counsel responsible for assisting with a closing in excess of $890 million of debt and equity financing for the construction of the project. This transaction involved extensive counsel on real estate, environmental and tax issues, including: real estate due diligence; title curative work; property acquisition and easement negotiations; document preparation; and work with lenders, equity investors, oil and gas companies, and the title insurer on title commitment and title insurance policy matters. Bricker continues to serve as Ohio counsel on the project, providing advice on all state regulatory, environmental and real estate matters.
API government affairs and lobbying activities
Represent API-Ohio, a state affiliate office of the American Petroleum Institute in governmental affairs and policy work before the Ohio General Assembly, the Governor’s Office and related statewide executive agencies. The firm has participated in high-profile and successful lobbying efforts regarding proposed legislative changes to the oil and gas severance tax and other oil and gas statutes in Ohio. In addition, we played an active role in numerous rule-makings before the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, including the horizontal well-site construction rules and emergency/incident notification rules. The firm has also been involved in negotiating various rule packages before Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio relating to incident notifications, air emissions from compressors and other facilities, and call before you dig procedures.
$40 million natural gas pipeline siting
Represent NRG Ohio Pipeline Co. LLC, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., in the siting of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline, 24 inches in diameter and 20 miles in length. The pipeline will supply NRG’s Avon Lake generation facility, which is being converted from a coal-fired plant to natural gas-fired plant. As part of this process, we assisted NRG in the formation of this pipeline subsidiary and represented the pipeline company through the permitting procedures of the Ohio Power Siting Board. After a fully-litigated proceeding, the client obtained its required certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board in 2015. Obtaining this certificate was crucial to the future viability of the NRG plant in Avon Lake. The pipeline gives the company an alternative to $422 million in pollution control devices that would have been necessary to comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency pollution guidelines. Most recently, we have been working with NRG to assist with its easement acquisition efforts, including both voluntary easement negotiations and assistance with state court eminent domain proceedings.
Multiple lawsuits filed in Ohio Courts of Common Pleas to obtain survey access under Ohio law for $2 billion project
Obtained injunctive relief for pipeline company client as trial counsel in 11 Ohio courts of common pleas in proceedings against landowners and organized opposition, allowing client access to property to conduct civil, cultural, environmental and cultural survey activities required for FERC application process in conjunction with the client’s construction of a $2 billion, 256-mile interstate natural gas pipeline originating in Ohio. The complexity of issues in these matters required sophisticated organization, detailed planning, and fine-tuned litigation management skills.
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Haubert, Columbiana C.P. No. 2015CV275 (June 2, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Sprague, Erie C.P. No. 2015 CV 0349 (Oct. 29, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Sean S. Shinaberry Trust, Fulton C.P. No. 15CV000154 (July 17, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Snyder, Fulton C.P. No. 16CV128 (July 7, 2016)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Patricia A. Wolf, Trustee, Huron C.P. No. CVH20150491 (July 21, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Karen M. Fridenstein & Kristin H. McDonough, Trustees, Lorain C.P. No. 15CV186926 (July 15, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Pandy Farm, LLC, Lorain C.P. No. 15CV186926 (Sept. 4, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Hozakski, Lorain C.P. No. 16 CV 189911 (July 5, 2016)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Lonnie Perry Farms Ltd., Lucas C.P. No. CI201503111 (June 25, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Houston, Medina C.P. No. 15CIV0636 (Oct. 6, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Ohms Acres LLC, Sandusky C.P. No. 15CV535 (June 15, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Scott L. Rathfelder, Trustee, Sandusky C.P. No. 15CV908 (Sept. 17, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Scott L. Rathfelder, Trustee, Sandusky C.P. No. 15CV908 (Sept. 29, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Destefano, Stark C.P. No. 2015CV01586 (July 31, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Camelback, Ltd., Stark C.P. No. 2015CV01586 (Sept. 2, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Linhart, Stark C.P. 2015CV02073 (Oct. 7, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Srock, Wayne C.P. No. CVC-H 000304 (Aug. 10, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Adkins, Wayne C.P. No. CVC-H 000304 (Oct. 14, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. North, Wayne C.P. No. 2016 CVC-H 000327 (July 6, 2016)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Griffith, Wood C.P. No. 15 CV 330 (July 14, 2015)
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC v. Sprague, 6th Dist. Erie No. E-15-069, 2016-Ohio-4901 (July 7, 2016)
Injunctive relief to obtain survey access to construct natural gas pipeline
Obtained injunctive relief in federal court permitting our client to access landowners' property to conduct survey activities during the FERC pre-application process in conjunction with its construction of a $450 million, 75-mile natural gas pipeline.
Secured access under eminent domain authority of the Natural Gas Act to conduct environmental and cultural resources surveys
Obtained summary judgment for natural gas companies in eminent domain actions filed under the Natural Gas Act in Ohio federal district courts. Also obtained temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions on an expedited timeline authorizing natural gas pipeline companies to access property subject to acquisition by eminent domain to conduct tree clearing activities in advance of moratoriums imposed on such activities in order to protect migratory birds and endangered bat species; contempt orders against property owners refusing to honor the order permitting access for tree clearing activities; and immediate injunctive relief against landowners refusing to permit access to their property via eminent domain for construction of a 75-mile natural gas pipeline in eastern Ohio and a 256-mile natural gas pipeline across northern Ohio. Also, negotiated settlements with landowners who permitted access and complex, technical settlements with public utilities to resolve overlapping easement situations.
Restricted covenants litigation for a large energy company
Successfully represented one of the nation's largest energy producers and transporters, Dominion East Ohio, in a case involving a natural gas supplier who placed restricted covenants on property deeds, forcing all owners and lessees to buy gas from it. The supplier sued Dominion when a commercial customer tried to enter into a new retail supply agreement with them. Courts struck down the covenant for lack of considerations and ruled the restriction as a violation of Ohio public policy.
Representation of purchaser in acquisition of rural natural gas pipeline system
Represented a natural gas utility in the negotiation and acquisition of a rural natural gas pipeline system in eastern Ohio. The transaction involved the completion of due diligence and negotiation of a complicated asset purchase agreement and corresponding escrow agreement.
Oil and gas class action
Successfully obtained complete relief for a client through settlement by intervening in an appeal of a certified class action to relieve the client from any obligations under an expired oil and gas lease at issue in the case and to avoid application of the trial court's tolling order against landowners with the form oil and gas lease at the heart of the class action.