Contracts are the lifeblood of business, and contract litigation remains the lifeblood of commercial litigation. Lawyers at our firm have spent a good part of their lives prosecuting and defending contract cases.
One of our recent trials involved contract claims covering 40 years and numerous related contracts. Recently, Tom Fulkerson defended Vetco Gray in a $55-million contract dispute over allegedly defective products where basic issues of contract formation, the “battle of forms” and the scope of contractual limitations and warranty limitations were involved. In 2002, Tom obtained the agreed dismissal of an action by the Halliburton Company against his client Western Well Tool in conjunction with a joint development agreement covering a wellborre “tractor.” In 2003, Tom obtained, along with John O’Neill, a defense summary judgment for Celotex Corporation on a $38-million claim of fraud where the key issues revolved around “as is, where is” limitations in a contract for the sale of real estate. In 1997, Tom obtained a full cost buyout for EOG Resources in connection with a cost-overrun-burdened gas processing facility involving an investment by the company of over $32 million. In each of these cases, Tom Fulkerson was primarily responsible for conceptualizing the pleading, discovery, depositions, pretrial preparation and trial of the cases.
Contract claims come in a variety of flavors. They can involve joint venture and partnership agreements, employment agreements, oil and gas operating agreements, insurance contracts, purchase and sale contracts, real estate contracts, warranties, commodity contracts, construction contracts, and merger and acquisition agreements, to name a few. At bottom in every contract dispute, however, is the interpretation and application of contract language, often to circumstances that the parties never anticipated. Because of that common element, we believe there is little benefit to industry specialization and that good trial lawyers benefit from litigating contract disputes in different types of businesses. That enables us to bring a variety of perspectives and fresh thinking to even ordinary contract claims, whether on the plaintiff’s or the defense side.