Stillwater Stars in Litigation Support
September 15, 2020
By Barry Schaps
You are probably familiar with expert witnesses in legal cases from their appearances on TV shows and in movies. But did you know that Stillwater Associates provides expert testimony and litigation support for cases involving the transportation fuels industry? In fact, litigation support is one of our core areas of expertise, even if Stillwater’s experts aren’t as good looking as TV and movie stars.
What is litigation support? While many recognize the contribution of ballistics experts in murder trials or medical experts in malpractice insurance cases, few think about the situations in which a petroleum business needs professional litigation support, separate and apart from its attorneys. Over the last five years, Stillwater has witnessed a notable increase in the number of requests we receive for these services. Some of the disputes between parties involve the interpretation of specific commercial terms in business contracts, the cost or performance of new petroleum-related infrastructure, and parties seeking financial relief through a declaration of force majeure due to poor economic conditions.
What does Stillwater offer? Engagements with Stillwater take many forms and are dependent upon the status of the legal dispute. Our services range from helping with suggested areas of discovery, development, and support of pre-trial motions, production of expert witness reports, providing in-person depositions, and courtroom trial testimony. We can provide lost profits, business interruption, and damages analyses for events that have happened in the downstream petroleum industry or advise counsel on how the energy industry functions. Stillwater can analyze the merits of a client’s case, provide case management, write position papers, participate in depositions, and offer testimony. We have also advised in settlement negotiations.
What is the Stillwater approach? In providing these services, Stillwater relies upon its in-house group of subject matter experts in wide-ranging fields in the transportation fuels industry. Our expert associates have decades of experience in engineering, procurement, and construction for major capital expenditures; market-based pricing analysis up and down the supply chain from “well to wheels”; and with all modes of transportation from large marine vessels, pipelines, terminals, to delivery trucks to retail outlets.
What is the value added? Knowledge of the industry and its common practices can identify strengths and weaknesses in the opposition’s position. The ability to bring together an understanding of the operational, accounting, financial, engineering, and science elements of the business can clarify the underlying disagreements of the parties in a way that can allow attorneys to focus on the legal issues in play. Our experts can assist the judge or jury in understanding the technical and commercial issues and allow them to focus on the issues of their expertise – the law.
What kinds of cases have you worked? Stillwater has provided litigation support for both plaintiffs and defendants in various disputes. Many times, Stillwater provides the knowledge bridge between a firm’s attorney and the business managers engaged in the disputed transaction. We have encountered instances where lawyers claim to fully understand all the nuances of the petroleum business (even though they do not) and business managers too proud to admit they may not know the appropriate legal tact to take in the dispute. Often Stillwater steps in to provide guidance then backs away, allowing the client to work through the matter with their in-house or outside counsel using the material generated by Stillwater.
Given the large dollar amounts at stake in these types of disputes, a modest investment in expert industry knowledge from folks who have been where you are today is a great return on your investment. Contact us to learn more.