Mike Bennett’s practice focuses on complex business disputes, primarily for clients in the oil and gas, oil and gas services, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries. He has significant experience in a broad range of disputes and investigations faced by companies in these industries, including disputes under joint operating agreements, joint venture agreements, service and supply agreements, and foreign agency agreements, as well as disputes involving employee retirement and welfare benefit plans, including ERISA-governed and non-ERISA-governed international plans. Mr. Bennett has handled several disputes involving investments by private equity firms and overseas investors in the oil and gas industry.
In addition, Mr. Bennett has experience in internal and governmental agency investigations of energy sector clients concerning alleged accounting fraud, embezzlement and FCPA violations, ERISA violations and related civil litigation. Mr. Bennett has also defended energy, chemical and pharmaceutical companies in environmental mass tort and products liability cases.
Mr. Bennett has substantial experience in the area of complex ERISA and employee benefits litigation, including the defense of termination of employer-sponsored benefit plans and defense of self-funded employer plans against claims by medical providers.
Mr. Bennett participated actively in the defense in discovery, 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.
Mr. Bennett has tried numerous cases to jury verdicts and has represented clients before state and federal courts and various arbitration tribunals.
Following graduation from law school, Mr. Bennett served as a law clerk to the Honorable Sidney A. Fitzwater of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
- Represented investor in lawsuit against joint venture partner over multi-million dollar investment in oil and gas properties in Texas shale plays
- Represented working interest and overriding royalty interest owner in dispute with operator under joint operating agreement and related agreements concerning offshore prospect in the Gulf of Mexico
- Advised E&P company in connection with litigation risks under joint operating agreement, amendments, and related agreements for development of Gulf of Mexico prospect
- Defended oilfield service company in lawsuit over alleged breach of agency agreement
- Defended offshore drilling contractor in lawsuit over alleged breach of agency agreement
- Represented E&P company in dispute over exercise of force majeure clause in drilling contract with offshore drilling contractor
- Represented Middle East based contractor in dispute with U.S. services company over breach of subcontract and services agreement
ERISA and Employee Benefits Matters
- Defended Fortune 500 company in multi-week arbitration concerning termination of a supplemental retirement plan for international expatriate employees
- Represented Fortune 500 company in 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
- Ongoing representation and advising of multiple clients in disputes with medical providers
- Representation of 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 providers of medical services concerning remedies available to providers for services provided. Litigation involved unresolved issues relating to the scope of ERISA preemption
- Defended private equity firm in lawsuit by operator of oil and gas prospect alleging breach of obligation under joint operating and exploration agreements to finance development activities and seeking forfeiture of working interests held by company in which firm had portfolio investment
- Represented private equity firm in resolution of dispute over breach of non-compete agreement by former owner of portfolio oilfield services company
- Defended private equity firm in lawsuit by former owner of portfolio energy company in which former owner alleged fraud in connection with sale of former owner’s interest in company prior to private equity firm’s acquisition
Investigations and Investigation-related Litigation
- Represented audit committee of oilfield service company in investigation to evaluate the extent of employee participation in a multimillion-dollar theft by a company officer
- Defended suit by FCPA whistleblower against oilfield services company
Product Liability Litigation
- Defended group of petrochemical and agricultural chemical companies in mass tort lawsuit alleging injuries from exposure to technical grade pesticides
- Defended product liability lawsuits involving consumer product of motor oil and consumer products company
- Multistate defense of personal injury claims involving antipsychotic medication
- Multistate defense of personal injury claims involving anti-inflammatory medication
- Defended pharmaceutical company in consumer class action under 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
- Defense through trial and arbitration hearing, respectively, of two “Sabine Pilot” wrongful termination cases (alleged termination for refusal to perform an illegal act) involving allegations of accounting fraud
Awards & Community
Recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer - Rising Star (Thomson Reuters), 2004-2011
Publications, Speeches & Presentations
Minnesota District Court Issues Landmark Ruling Against Landmark Ruling Against Third Party Administrator's Practice of Recouping Prior Overpayments Through "Cross-Plan" OffsetsExternal Articles
Employee Benefit Plan Review
Minnesota District Court Issues Landmark Ruling Against Third Party Administrator’s Practice of Recouping Prior Overpayments Through “Cross-Plan” OffsetsFirm Thought Leadership
Pension, Benefits and ERISA Litigation Update