Litigation

Led by Partner Steve Emerson, Stinson represents NorthWestern Energy, a regional natural gas and electric utility that has been sued by ExxonMobil for in excess of $100 million in property damage and lost profits allegedly arising from two electrical power outages that ExxonMobil claims shut down its 60,000 barrels per day crude oil refinery in Billings, Montana, for extended periods.

Originally filed as a putative class action regarding the trading of securities of YRC Worldwide Inc. during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, this case involved unique questions regarding class certification, unprecedented procedural issues and the use of untraditional case management strategies relating to discovery, including electronically stored information. Specifically, Stinson marshaled and found evidence to defeat class certification from literally millions of documents, and we formulated ESI strategies to level the playing field in what was otherwise asymmetrical discovery. These include new approaches with respect to identification of privilege and first peek agreements. Plaintiffs twice have sought appellate review in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and each was defeated.

Following a six-week jury trial, we obtained a complete defense verdict in a misappropriation of trade secrets case on behalf of The Bankers’ Bank, N.A., headquartered in Oklahoma City. Our client is a bankers’ bank, which is essentially a bank for banks.  Part of what our client does is to provide correspondent banking services to hundreds of small community banks similar to those services provided by the Federal Reserve

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To do so, The Bankers’ Bank utilizes correspondent banking software it developed and which it provides to its own community respondent banks. It also licenses that software to other bankers’ banks in other parts of the country to use with their respondent community banks.

Literally billions of dollars flow through this system daily.  The plaintiff is LendingTools.com, Inc., a software company that at one time had the majority of the market for correspondent banking software. LendingTools alleges that its former customers–customers that left to go to The Bankers’ Bank for their correspondent banking services–provided the trade secrets to The Bankers’ Bank, and that The Bankers’ Bank misappropriated them for its own use.

Originally LendingTools sought damages in excess of $55 million, but after The Bankers’ Bank successfully disqualified LendingTools’ first damages expert under Daubert, LendingTools’ went to trial seeking approximately $14 million in actuals, together with punitives and over $5 million in attorney fees.

We represented Peninsula and Boyd Gaming in its 2012-2016 property tax appeals for the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas. The valuation of the casino involves complex issues relating to separation of intangible assets from real estate and is establishing case law precedent for the valuation of casinos in Kansas under the new Kansas Expanded Lottery Act. We achieved a $15 million value reduction for the 2012 tax year, a $73 million value reduction for 2013 tax year, a $56 million value reduction for the 2014 tax year, and a $75 million valuation reduction for 2015 with appeals pending or anticipated. The 2016 tax year appeals are currently in process

Jarrod Kieffer, Partner in Wichita

We are representing New York State in a school-funding lawsuit brought by parents and children in eight small-city school districts across the state. Plaintiffs claim that existing school-district funding levels violate the New York Constitution, which requires the provision of a “sound basic education” for all children. Plaintiffs sought the extraordinary remedy of judicial intervention into the state’s budget determinations and alleged that New York State is obligated to spend additional billions of dollars for public K-12 education. After a three-month bench trial, the court ruled in our favor on all counts and dismissed the complaint. The matter is currently under appeal at the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.