Mike Gallagher has learned to trust the jury.
It’s a rule that has served the Davis Graham & Stubbs partner well. In 2019, Gallagher helped secure eight-figure verdicts for Antero Resources, a Denver-based natural gas and oil company with reserves in the Appalachian basin.
In June, a Denver jury awarded Antero a whopping $96 million in a pricing dispute with Washington Gas Light Co. and WGL Midstream, Inc., both subsidiaries of WGL Holdings. Gallagher is quick to note the win was a group effort as he and DGS colleagues Shannon Stevenson and Jim Henderson joined up with a team of attorneys from Houston-based Vinson & Elkins led by Jim Thompson and Phillip Dye.
Gallagher also helped Antero hang on to a $60 million verdict in a breach of contract case the company won in 2017 against South Jersey Resources Group.
In August, the 10th Circuit upheld the federal jury verdict. DGS and Vinson & Elkins worked together on that case as well.
Part of Gallagher’s role in both cases was to pick the jury. A lot of corporate clients, and their lawyers, are reluctant to go in front of a jury, viewing them as risky or a wild card, according to Gallagher.
“I look at it completely differently,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with juries. I trust them. I recommend to clients often: Ask for a jury.”
Cases involving natural resources can often be technical and complicated. But that doesn’t mean the issues are beyond a jury’s grasp, according to Gallagher. “It’s easy to underestimate how smart six or 12 jurors are,” he said, adding that “if you put them in a room together for five days [or] 10 days, they’re going to get it.”
“I think about my role as a lawyer a little bit as a teacher,” Gallagher said. Whether the case is before a jury or a judge, he has to explain how things work and simplify the story, then let them decide.