James P. Tuite retired from the partnership at the end of 2016.
Practice & Background
Mr. Tuite’s practice focused on complex commercial litigation, with a special emphasis on issues affecting the energy industry. He was “AV Preeminent® rated” by Martindale-Hubbell.
Mr. Tuite represented energy, natural resource and transportation companies; Indian tribes; and other entities in federal and state court trials and appeals, and before federal and state agencies. He served as lead counsel in cases involving a wide range of substantive areas, including antitrust, APA review of agency action, breach of contract, business torts, constitutional law, consumer class actions, federal preemption, energy and transportation regulation, product liability, royalties and natural resource valuation, Indian gaming, tribal trust management, trade secrets, and federal and state taxation. Many of Mr. Tuite’s cases had substantial economic issues at their core; as a result, he has worked with some of the nation’s foremost economists in the development and presentation of expert testimony. An experienced appellate advocate, Mr. Tuite has argued more than a dozen cases before the U.S. courts of appeals and prepared numerous briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Tuite has handled many cases for energy companies. He has extensive experience with the types of legal issues that arise in connection with the exploration, production, refining, transportation, distribution and marketing of crude oil and refined petroleum products and with the production and transportation of natural gas.
Mr. Tuite’s representative matters include:
- defense of breach of contract action in New York state court seeking $140 million for a parent corporation’s alleged misrepresentation of the financial condition of a wholly owned subsidiary it sold to the plaintiff; all claims dismissed before trial
- defense of a petroleum products marketer in New Jersey state court in a case of first impression in which plaintiffs alleged that a corporate restructuring involving the transfer of stations between affiliated entities violated the right-of-first-refusal provisions of the state’s Franchise Practices Act; all claims denied on summary judgment
- defense of a large Russian international oil company in a series of nationwide class actions in which direct purchasers of refined petroleum products alleged that it had violated the Sherman Act by colluding with OPEC’s national oil companies; federal district court granted motion to dismiss, 5th Circuit affirmed, and Supreme Court denied certiorari
- defense of a petroleum products marketer in MTBE product liability and groundwater contamination cases that are part of a large multidistrict litigation in the Southern District of New York
- representation of a plaintiff Indian tribe in a Court of Federal Claims lawsuit against the United States for failure to collect full royalties due on oil and gas production on reservation lands and for other breaches of trust responsibilities; achieved a series of favorable rulings in successive trials, resulting in a favorable $380 million settlement for the tribe
- defense of a large regional petroleum products marketer against claims of violation of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act and breach of contract/fiduciary duty; all claims denied on summary judgment
- defense of a large refiner and marketer of petroleum products in a massive consumer class action brought against virtually the entire industry, claiming that the failure to adjust price or volume when selling gasoline warmer than the alleged industry standard of 60°F is a deceptive practice in violation of state consumer protection statutes; served as a member of the joint defense group’s steering committee; selected to argue motion to dismiss on behalf of all industry defendants; client ultimately achieved settlement on favorable terms
- defense of a large international holding company in an action filed in the Southern District of New York seeking more than $1 billion based on claims of breach of contract and fiduciary duty, promissory estoppel and misappropriation of trade secrets; all claims denied on summary judgment
- defense of a major international oil company against Sherman Act claims alleging monopolization and attempted monopolization of the market for purchasing and transporting Alaska North Slope natural gas, and against Clayton Act claims challenging the lawfulness of a series of mergers; all claims dismissed before trial
- defense of one of the nation’s largest refiners of petroleum products in a series of price manipulation investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general; defended the company’s CEO in deposition taken by California’s attorney general’s office; all federal and state investigations closed with no action taken
- on behalf of four major refiners, successfully petitioned the FTC to challenge on antitrust grounds a patent holder’s manipulation of a standard-setting process to gain monopoly power over the California reformulated gasoline market; represented the four refiners in the resulting three-month trial, which culminated in a consent decree prohibiting enforcement of the relevant patents
- defense of an affiliate of a major integrated oil company in a federal court action in which the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico alleged that the island’s three largest gasoline marketers had overcharged consumers by hundreds of millions of dollars; after trial, district court denied all claims, and 1st Circuit affirmed
- defense of a major Alaska North Slope oil producer in a refund suit brought by the State of Alaska seeking approximately $1 billion in alleged underpayments of production and severance taxes; at trial, had lead responsibility for a $325 million issue and obtained a judgment of no liability.
Mr. Tuite serves on the Executive Committee of the Council for Court Excellence, a nonprofit civic organization that works to improve the administration of justice in the local and federal courts in Washington, D.C.
- “FTC’s Antitrust Challenge to Unocal’s Reformulated Gasoline Patents,” annual ABA Petroleum Marketing Attorneys meeting, March 2005.