Michael Bennett focuses on complex business disputes, primarily counseling clients in the oil and gas, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries. He has significant experience working with companies on a broad range of disputes and investigations involving joint operating agreements, joint venture agreements, service and supply agreements, foreign agency agreements, and employee retirement and welfare benefit plans, including ERISA-governed and non-ERISA-governed international plans. Mike has handled several cases involving investments by private equity firms and overseas investors in the oil and gas industry.
In addition, Mike has experience representing energy sector clients in internal and governmental agency investigations involving alleged accounting fraud, embezzlement and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, ERISA violations and related civil litigation. He has defended energy, chemical and pharmaceutical companies in environmental mass tort and product liability cases.
Prior to joining Culhane Meadows, Mike’s ERISA and employee benefits litigation experience includes the defense of termination of employer-sponsored benefit plans and the defense of self-funded employer plans against claims by medical providers.
Mike actively participated in the trial and appeal of two presidential election contests, Harry Jacobs, et al. v. Seminole County Canvassing Board, et al. and Ronald Taylor, et al. v. Martin County Canvassing Board, et al., as counsel for President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.
Mike has tried numerous cases to jury verdicts and has represented clients before state and federal courts and various arbitration tribunals.
- Energy Disputes
- Represented an investor in a lawsuit against a joint venture partner over a multimillion-dollar investment in oil and gas properties in Texas shale plays.
- Represented the working interest and overriding royalty interest owner in a dispute with an operator under a joint operating agreement and related agreements concerning an offshore prospect in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Advised an exploration and production company in connection with litigation risks under a joint operating agreement, amendments and related agreements for the development of a Gulf of Mexico prospect.
- Defended an oilfield service company in lawsuits related to executive compensation and bonus plans.
- Defended an oilfield service company in a lawsuit over the alleged breach of an agency agreement.
- Defended an offshore drilling contractor in a lawsuit over the alleged breach of an agency agreement.
- Represented an exploration and production company in a dispute over the exercise of a force majeure clause in a drilling contract with an offshore drilling contractor.
- Represented a Middle East-based contractor in a dispute with a US services company over breach of a subcontract and services agreement.
- ERISA and Employee Benefits
- Defended Fortune 500 companies in class action employer stock-drop lawsuits alleging that retirement plan fiduciaries breached fiduciary duties by failing to divest funds composed of securities of former parent companies.
- Defended a Fortune 500 company in a multi-week arbitration concerning termination of a supplemental retirement plan for international expatriate employees.
- Represented a Fortune 500 company in a class action lawsuit challenging partial termination of and modifications to welfare benefit plans.
- Represented Fortune 500 companies in internal investigations involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty related to pension plans.
- Represents multiple clients in disputes with medical providers.
- Represented clients in numerous suits alleging improper termination of medical and disability benefits.
- Represented employer-sponsored self-funded benefit plans of Fortune 500 companies in disputes with medical service providers involving unresolved issues related to the scope of ERISA preemption.
- Private Equity
- Defended a private equity firm in a lawsuit by the operator of an oil and gas prospect alleging breach of obligation under joint operating and exploration agreements.
- Represented a private equity firm in the resolution of a dispute over the breach of a non-compete agreement by the former owner of a portfolio oilfield services company.
- Defended a private equity firm in a lawsuit by the former owner of a portfolio energy company involving alleged fraud in connection with the sale of the former owner’s interest in the company.
- Investigations and Investigation-related Litigation
- Represented the audit committee of an oilfield service company in an investigation to evaluate the extent of employee participation in a multimillion-dollar theft by a company officer.
- Defended an oilfield services company in a lawsuit brought by an FCPA whistleblower.
- Product Liability Litigation
- Defended a group of petrochemical and agricultural chemical companies in a mass tort lawsuit alleging injuries from exposure to technical-grade pesticides.
- Defended product liability lawsuits involving a consumer product of a motor oil and consumer products company.
- Pharmaceutical Industry
- Provided multistate defense of personal injury claims involving antipsychotic medication.
- Provided multistate defense of personal injury claims involving anti-inflammatory medication.
- Defended a pharmaceutical company in a consumer class action under a state consumer protection statute involving anti-inflammatory medication.
- Defended multiple state and class actions involving RICO and antitrust claims concerning marketing of thyroid medication.
- Other Complex Business Litigation
- Provided defense through trial and arbitration, respectively, of two “Sabine Pilot” wrongful termination cases involving allegations of accounting fraud.
- “Benefits Litigation Review,” presenter to the Dallas Bar Association, February 2018
- “Hot Topics in Health and Welfare Plan Litigation,” presenter to the American Bar Association, January 1, 2017
- “Benefits Litigation Review,” presenter to the Dallas Bar Association, January 2017