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Biography

Chris is a member in the firm’s Pittsburgh office and a part of the Energy Industry Team. He focuses his practice on oil and gas and energy where he primarily assists his clients in predicting, avoiding, and managing mineral disputes, including title, lease, right-of-way, and royalty disputes. With his background in mineral and real property title, Chris brings experience that is especially helpful in navigating the often-murky waters of Ohio’s Marketable Title Act and Dormant Mineral Act and their ever-changing jurisprudence.

In addition to his energy practice, Chris’ nearly 15 years of practice features diverse experience in civil and commercial disputes, including website accessibility claims, easement and right-of-way disputes, real estate disputes, coal sterilization claims, commercial disputes and personal injury and toxic tort defense.

On the transactional side, Chris has experience managing time-sensitive due diligence projects across several deals that resulted in the acquisition of more than $1 billion in oil and gas assets, as well as closings and management of these assets.

Chris is an avid writer on Ohio and Pennsylvania oil and gas law developments, especially on Ohio’s Marketable Title Act and Dormant Mineral Act, and his writings have been published in Energy Law360. He has also written for and presented at various symposiums and continuing legal education seminars for the Institute on Energy Law and the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation on oil and gas related topics.

A life-long Pittsburgh resident, Chris lives in Mt. Lebanon (a suburb south of Pittsburgh) with his wife, two children, and two dogs.

Experience

Legal Work Highlights

Represented oil and gas company in dispute over obligation to recognize and pay overriding royalty interests that were created out of leases now expired but allegedly subject to an extension and renewal provision (anti-washout provision).

Represented oil and gas company against claims that surface owner/lessor’s search for holders for service with Notice of Abandonment by certified mail was inadequate under Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act, and therefore any abandonment was void.

Represented non-operating leaseholder participating in a unit against lessors’ claim that it allegedly failed to properly calculate royalties by not paying them and/or by deducting post-production costs.

Represented oil and gas company against claims that Ohio’s Marketable Title Act extinguished severed mineral interest.

Represented overriding royalty owner against claims of lease expiration due to alleged failure of well(s) to produce in paying quantities.

Represented oil and gas company against claims of improper royalty calculation, including claims that post-production costs should not be deducted, and claim that royalty failed to include liquid constituents.

Represented lessee against lessors’ claim of breach of lease and termination of lease and pursue arbitration of lessors’ claims under broad arbitration provision contained in the lease (and ignored by the lessors).

Represented pipeline owner/right-of-way grantee against former surface owner’s claim that pipeline owner was obligated to reimburse for post-production costs even though surface owner sold property and did not reserve right under right-of-way agreement (i.e., no standing).

Represented oil and gas company against claims of trespass and conversion for producing oil and gas subject to title dispute.

Represented pipeline owner against mechanic’s lien improperly filed pursuant to Ohio’s mechanic’s lien oil and gas well subsection, instead of the normal requirements for a mechanic’s lien in Ohio.

Represented partial fee mineral owner against the Ohio Public Works Commission’s claims that property owner’s conveyance and the subsequent development of property violated the Clean Ohio Program requirements and must be unwound (and property owner must pay penalty).

Counseled oil and gas producer on anticipated development of property purchased with Clean Ohio funds, including anticipated ability to include via mandatory pooling and anticipated response and attempted enforcement by Ohio Public Works Commission.

Represented oil and gas company against prior lessor’s claim of deed forgery and mineral conversion against third parties, who represented to producer the change of ownership, and pursuit of claims against those third parties to the extent claims of forgery are proven.

Represented private equity in partial acquisition of well-bore interests as collateral for financing development.

Defended pipeline owner against coal company’s claims of coal sterilization and right to “mouth of mine” value of coal (i.e., without deducting for costs of production).

Defended and counseled retail companies, banks, and restaurants in connection with claims under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other state-law equivalents, that websites and mobile phone applications did not comply with the WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility standard.

Defended refinery against claim of personal injury resulting from allegedly faulty asphalt tank filling equipment.

Defended convenience store and gas station chain against neighboring owner’s claim that it has a private easement across the gas station property even though the public was vacated by the city.

Defended refinery against neighboring landowner’s claim that it had an easement by necessity due to the lack of access to public roadways nearby.

Successfully defended mineral holding company against claim that restrictive covenants indeed prohibited development of oil and gas.

Counseled major American oil and gas producer on subsurface easement requirements for horizontal wells in Ohio.

Successfully defended major American oil and gas producer in quiet title action under Ohio Dormant Mineral Act in eastern Ohio.

Assisted American midstream operator in securing additional credit facility.

Managed and co-managed due diligence review and closings for acquisition of 25,000 acres of oil and gas assets in eastern Ohio for major U.S. exploration and production company.

Counseled mineral investment company on purchase of nonparticipating royalty interests in eastern Ohio.

Co-managed due diligence, closing, and asset management of fee mineral assets acquired in West Virginia.

Managed due diligence, closing, and asset management of fee mineral assets acquired in eastern Ohio.

Other Info About Chris

Education

Law School

Duquesne University School of Law, J.D., 2006

Undergraduate School

University of Pittsburgh, B.A., Anthropology & History, 2003, magna cum laude

Bar Membership

Chris is licensed to practice in the following states:

Pennsylvania, 2006

Ohio, 2014

Courts

Chris is admitted to practice before the following courts:

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Supreme Court of Ohio

Professional Affiliations

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Pennsylvania Bar Association

Allegheny County Bar Association

Ohio State Bar Association

Energy and Mineral Law Foundation

Presentations

Chris was invited to speak at the following events:

Presented on oil and gas title in Pennsylvania as part of presentation entitled “Fracking – The New ‘F’ Word And An Overview Of Oil And Gas Law” at Erie County Bar Association (Pennsylvania) on April 7, 2016.

Presented on “Pitfalls of Representing Multiple Clients in Energy Transactions” at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s 8th Annual Oil and Gas Law Colloquium on July 27, 2016.

Presented on (1) “Oil and Gas Title Endorsements and Exceptions” and (2) “Quiet Title of Mineral Interests – A Practical Walk-Through” at National Business Institute’s CLE on December 8, 2016 in Akron, Ohio.

Presented on “The ADA and My Website: Risks and Requirements” at the Frost Brown Todd Annual CLE seminar in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 10, 2016.

Major Publications

Chris is an author of the following publication:

Published written materials for “Oil and Gas Title Endorsements and Exceptions” and “Quiet Title of Mineral Interests – A Practical Walk-Through” as part of CLE presentation on December 8, 2016. Available through NBI.

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