SHARON T. THOMAS


About Sharon

Practicing law for over 35 years, Sharon is one of the most experienced appellate attorneys in the state of Oklahoma. She uses her decades of expertise in private practice to advise clients on best practices and legal solutions, produce some of the most respected briefs and legal writing in Oklahoma, and offer opinions on the law based on a career’s worth of expertise.

Sharon enjoys an outstanding reputation in the legal community in Oklahoma. She began practicing law in 1981 at Watson & McKenzie in Oklahoma City where she was an Attorney and Shareholder for eleven years. Following this, she spent over 24 years as a Partner at Hall Estill in Oklahoma City before joining The Rudnicki Firm in the first year it opened as Appellate Counsel.

While she has experience in a vast array of litigation, Sharon has focused her career on the following areas:

  • Appellate Practice

    • Served as counsel of record on over 50 published decisions from the Tenth Circuit and Oklahoma appellate courts.

    • Served as counsel of record in appeals in federal and state court finding statutes, which had an adverse impact on the energy industry, were unconstitutional or unconstitutional as applied.

    • Served as counsel of record in an appeal succeeding in reversing judgment on a jury verdict with directions to enter judgment for the defendant oil company.

    • Served as counsel of record in an appeal addressing the sovereign immunity in a surface damage action.

    • Served as counsel of record for an amicus curiae in a Tenth Circuit appeal involving the Mineral Management Service’s demand for royalties.

    • Served as counsel of record in an appeal in which the Oklahoma Supreme Court determined that the implied covenant to market did not extend to an overriding royalty interest owner.

    • Authored the briefs in an appeal that reversed an order certifying a class of royalty owners against an operator.

    • Served as counsel of record in numerous original action proceedings before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

       Published opinions include:

  •  EOG Res. Mktg., Inc. v. Okla. State Bd. of Equalization, 2008 OK 95; 196 P.3d 511 (Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of natural gas gathering company, finding an Oklahoma ad valorem tax statute was unconstitutional).

  • Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. v. Oklahoma ex rel. Commissioners of the Land Office, 83 F.3d 1219 (10th Cir. 1996) (court found that an Oklahoma Senate Bill, which amended certain statues imposing obligations on first purchasers of oil and natural gas, was unconstitutional).

  • Sundance Energy Oklahoma, LLC v. Dan D. Drilling Corp., 836 F.3d 1271 (10th Cir. 2016) (court affirmed judgment on a jury verdict in favor operator and against drilling company for damages for loss of its oil and gas well).  

  • Schulte v. Apache Corp., 1995 OK 148; 949 P.2d 291 (court reversed judgment on jury verdict with directions to enter judgment in favor of an operator, finding that parties who elected to participate under a forced pooling order were not entitled to share in acreage earned by the operator).

  • JMA Energy Co., LLC v. State ex rel. DOT, 2012 OK CIV APP 55; 278 P.3d 1053 (affirmed judgment determining that sovereign immunity did not apply to an operator’s action to resolve surface damages under the Oklahoma Surface Damages Act where the surface owner was the State).

  • OXY USA, Inc. v. Babbitt, 268 F.3d 1001 (10th Cir. 2001) (wrote amicus curiae brief in favor of successful party in action challenging the MMS’ demand for additional royalties as barred by the statute of limitations).

  • Samson Res. Co. v. Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent, 2012 OK 68; 281 P.3d 1278 (reversed order dismissing claim, finding jurisdiction was in the district court and not the Oklahoma Corporation Commission).

  • Tenneco Oil Co. v. Oklahoma Corp. Comm'n, 1989 OK 89; 775 P.2d 296 (court reversed Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s dismissal of cause, finding that the Commission, rather than the district court had exclusive jurisdiction over the cause.),

  • Kimzey v. Flamingo Seismic Solutions, Inc., No. 696 F.3d 1045 (10th Cir. 2012) (affirmed grant of summary judgment and the award of attorney’s fees in favor of a company performing seismic exploration  and against a landowner on his claim for trespass). 

  • XAE Corp. v. SMR Prop. Mgmt. Co., 1998 OK 51; 968 P.2d 1201 (court reversed judgment against working interest owner, finding that an implied covenant to market did not extend to the owners of an in-kind overriding royalty interest and that the working interest owner could deduct post-production expenses from the overriding royalty owner’s share of proceeds.)

  • Chaparral Energy, L.L.C. v. Samson Resources Co., 2015 OK CIV APP 44, 348 P.3d 1104 (quiet title judgment affirmed)

  • Watson v. State ex rel. Michael, 1989 OK 116; 777 P.2d 945 (court reversed contempt order against attorney).

  • Winn v. Nilsen, 1983 OK 91, 670 P.2d 588 (court affirmed summary judgment for lessee, finding that lessee had until midnight on the last day of the primary term to commence operations, and the primary term was calculated by excluding the day the lease was signed.)

  • Environmental

    • Defended companies in cases alleging groundwater and surface pollution from oil and gas operations and from use of disposal facilities, including cases filed as class actions.

    • Defended companies in cases alleging air pollution from a coal-fired power plant.

    • Assisted in obtaining Board of Adjustment exceptions for disposal wells alleged to cause risk of earthquakes

    • Represented company in obtaining partial dismissal of tort action seeking damages alleged to be caused by earthquakes

    • Analyzed complex issues involving rights to various minerals such as iodine and silica

  • Oil & Gas

    • Defended companies in lease cancellation suits

    • Defended companies in royalty owner class actions alleging improper payment of royalties

    • Represented companies in condemnation proceedings under both state and federal law.

    • Defended companies in cases seeking damages to wellbores, property or persons based on various theories including products liability, breach of warranty, negligence, nuisance, and trespass

    • Defended companies in election disputes under force pooling orders

    • Represented companies in disputes involving joint operating agreements and COPAS accounting procedures

    • Provided analysis of easement rights and regulations applicable to various facilities such as pipelines, gathering lines, and compression facilities.

She is licensed to practice in Oklahoma and before the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Western Districts of Oklahoma, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

Sharon is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law where she was a Note Editor on the Law Review and a recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in Labor Law. Sharon has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers® since 2013. Most recently, Sharon is recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019 for Oil & Gas and Energy Law.

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