Aggressive Defense Leads to Favorable Settlement for Well Services Contractor

When a natural gas storage well suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure, the utility company operator sought to divert blame and minimize responsibility. Vectren Energy filed a lawsuit against Core Laboratories subsidiary, Owen Tools, claiming that a defective concrete patch product manufactured by Owen Tools was responsible for the damages.

Owen Tools turned to Mitby Pacholder Johnson to defend the Texas-based company against breach of contract and product-defect claims. At issue were allegations by Vectren Energy that a well casing patch used to repair a corroded section of pipe casing was defective and led to the 2019 failure of an injection/withdrawal well in Monroe County, Indiana.

High stakes product defect claim

Down-hole technology at the center of energy sector disputes can be deeply complex, and litigation related to these products and services requires a thorough investigation and understanding of the chemistry, engineering and other technical concepts at the heart of the technology. It’s an area of the law that Mitby Pacholder Johnson attorneys have significant experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants.

“Energy litigation demands courtroom experience and a fundamental understanding of the law — but that’s just a start,” said firm cofounder Steve Mitby. “Lawyers handling these matters must have a thorough understanding of science and technology in order to develop legal strategies and communicate effectively with judges and juries.”

Secrets Revealed as MPJ Team Uncovers Key Evidence

The defense team got started and successfully mounted a case to remove the lawsuit from  Marion Superior Court to a more favorable federal venue in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

As the Mitby Pacholder Johnson trial lawyers got to work, their investigation uncovered fundamental questions about the events leading up to the well casing failure. Among other things, their probe revealed that other parties at the well site could have prevented the alleged damage, as well as questions about the well’s history of disrepair and whether the damages claims had been inflated.

With a Mitby Pacholder Johnson team positioned for the approaching trial date, Vectren (which was subsequently acquired by Houston-based CenterPoint Energy) came to the table with a favorable settlement offer. The case is one of several handled by Mitby Pacholder Johnson on behalf of Core Laboratories and its subsidiaries.

The case is Indiana Gas Company, Inc. d/b/a Vectren v. Owen Oil Tools, L.P.; Cause No. 1:21-CV-02229, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

About Mitby Pacholder Johnson

Founded by veteran trial lawyers Steven J. Mitby, Debbie Pacholder and Timothy Johnson, Mitby Pacholder Johnson combines the depth of seasoned commercial trial lawyers, licensed patent attorneys and an award-winning general counsel to attack complicated legal issues and business disputes head-on. With a record of significant jury verdicts and settlements, the team has developed a reputation for aggressive and sophisticated strategies to maximize business, intellectual property, commercial arbitration, regulatory, and employment disputes. The firm’s expertise spans industries, including energy, oil and gas, healthcare and construction. More information is available at