BOSTON (August 16, 2011) — International law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP has secured a $230 million arbitration award for Firm client Bionol Clearfield LLC (Bionol), the Quincy, Massachusetts-founded developer of an ethanol plant located in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, from Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. (Getty). The award includes $47 million in damages incurred to date, and over $180 million in future damages.
In 2007, Bionol and Getty, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lukoil Americas at the time, entered into a five-year “Off-take Agreement” requiring Getty to purchase essentially all of the output from the Clearfield County ethanol plant under a commodity based pricing formula. When the plant came online in early 2010, and after a precipitous drop in the commodities market, Getty challenged the pricing mechanisms of the contract. Getty then commenced the subject arbitration, seeking damages of $10 million for breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, mistake and related claims.
The McDermott team responded with counterclaims on behalf of Bionol. A panel of AAA Arbitrators then heard evidence over four weeks, including expert testimony on the ethanol, corn, and related commodities markets. Ultimately, the Panel adopted all of McDermott’s legal theories on liability and damages under the Uniform Commercial Code. The Panel also adopted the damage model developed by McDermott and their expert witness.
“We are delighted by this ruling in favor of our client Bionol, and also in our ability to secure for Bionol the full benefit of its bargain and thus all the monetary damages we sought on their behalf,” said McDermott lead partner Anthony Bongiorno. “While the ethanol markets have fluctuated greatly over the past few years, Bionol and Getty had a deal on this commodity based pricing formula. McDermott never wavered on the principal that ‘a deal is a deal’ and that this contract was legally binding regardless of subsequent market fluctuations.”
Adding another dimension of difficulty to this case, after the first six days of testimony from fact and expert witnesses, Lukoil announced the sale of Getty to an unrelated party. This forced Bionol to file a motion for interim relief, which the Panel allowed, ordering an attachment on all of the assets of Getty in the amount of $47 million.
“This was an important benchmark for our trial team, providing us with momentum to keep this complex case moving forward toward the final award providing for all damages sought.”
In addition to Bongiorno, the McDermott trial team included partner Matthew Martel and associates Victoria Thavaseelan and Malinda Morain.
McDermott’s Trial Practice Group takes on, and consistently wins, the most demanding cases for clients. McDermott's skilled trial lawyers have a deep understanding of substantive areas of the law. This knowledge combines with the Firm’s breadth of courtroom experience to position its lawyers for trial or to resolve matters short of trial if that is more advantageous. McDermott's Trial Practice Group includes several members of the American College of Trial Lawyers, former Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Department of Justice lawyers, as well as former members of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Department of Commerce. More than 50 McDermott lawyers have previously served as judicial law clerks.
About McDermott Will & Emery
McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, the Firm has offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., and a close strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.