Daniel T. Donovan, P.C. - Partner

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Daniel T. Donovan, P.C.

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Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202-879-5174
Fax: +1 202-879-5200
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Professional Profile

Dan focuses his practice litigating commercial, financial, energy and technology disputes and counseling executives on corporate governance. Dan has secured significant victories for plaintiffs and defendants in high-stakes matters before judges, juries and arbitration panels across the country. Dan counsels clients on financial disputes, internal investigations and corporate governance matters.

Dan has achieved successful results for clients in trials and arbitrations: a two-week arbitration trial for plaintiff BNSF Railway resulting in $109 million recovery for railroads (BNSF Railway v. FirstEnergy), a seven-week trial for plaintiff BASF resulting in a $169.9 million jury verdict in a breach of contract case in New Jersey (BASF v. Lyondell), and a seven-week trial for a corporate defendant resulting in a complete defense verdict in an alleged fraud case in Florida (Breed v. Honeywell). The jury verdict for BASF was one of the top ten jury verdicts of the year nationwide, according to VerdictSearch. Both cases were identified by The American Lawyer as “Big Suits.”

Dan successfully represented Chesapeake Energy in federal trial courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on oil and gas issues related to the Utica Shale. Henry v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 739 F.3d 909 (6th Cir. 2014); Stewart v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 545 Fed. Appx. 468 (6th Cir. 2013). In 2013, Dan secured judgment for an oil and gas producer in a series of cases preventing termination of leases in Utica Shale. In 2012, Dan defeated a request for a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin the installation of a natural gas related facility. In 2011, Dan successfully represented Innkeepers USA Trust against a private equity investor for failing to close a $1.1 billion acquisition of a hotel portfolio due to an alleged material adverse effect. The litigation was closely tracked and noted in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In 2011, Dan also recovered millions of dollars for Agility Defense & Government Services against a government contractor.

Dan represented Charter Communications in a 19-day trial against claims by its bank lenders that it breached its obligations in connection with more than $11 billion in secured financing and claims by creditors for breaches of fiduciary duties. In what the court characterized as the "most expertly tried” case over which he presided and “one of the most hotly contested confirmation battles ever conducted,” the court found in favor of Charter on all claims. The ruling was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The case was spotlighted by the American Lawyer in its AmLaw Litigation Daily.

Dan’s pro bono cases have included representing voters challenging voter suppression laws, a client in a successful discrimination trial, and military veterans seeking benefits from the federal government.

Representative Matters

Commercial, Antitrust & Competition Litigation

  • Lead counsel for BNSF against FirstEnergy for breach of long-term contract for the transportation of coal to FirstEnergy’s coal-fired power plants. FirstEnergy claimed that its failure to ship coal was excused as force majeure due to environmental regulation prevented its performance. After a two-week trial, the panel unanimously sided with BNSF. The parties subsequently reached a settlement, pursuant to which FirstEnergy agreed to pay $109 million to BNSF. The result was profiled in the American Lawyer and Law360. BNSF Railway Company v. FirstEnergy Corporation (2017).

  • Lead counsel for BNSF Railway defending against tort claims by the owner and former CEO of Cold Train, LCC related to Cold Train’s intermodal shipping service. The District Court dismissed with prejudice all claims against BNSF Railway. Lawson v. BNSF Railway Co., 2016 WL 2858833 (2016). 

  • Lead counsel for government contractor in three-week AAA arbitration arising out of a dispute over a U.S. Army contract worth $6 billion. Panel unanimously found in favor of client and awarded damages.

  • Lead counsel for Innkeepers in litigation regarding private equity fund’s termination of $1.1 billion acquisition of hotel portfolio for alleged material adverse effect. The matter settled on the first day of trial and the private equity fund closed on the hotel portfolio weeks later. (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2011).

  • Represented Blackstone Group in an $8 billion fraudulent conveyance lawsuit concerning the sale of Extended Stay America, a lawsuit identified in The American Lawyer as “one of the largest claims ever filed over a failed LBO.” (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2012).

  • Represented Charter Communications against syndicate of bank lenders. Following a 19-day trial, court ruled in favor of Charter on all claims and contested issues, which enabled Charter to reinstate $11.8 billion in bank and bond debt. In re Charter Communications, 419 B.R. 221 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2009).

  • Represented BASF in seven-week jury trial in New Jersey state court for breach of contract. Jury verdict for plaintiff BASF for $169.9 million. BASF Corp. v. Lyondell Chemical Co.

  • Represented for Honeywell in seven-week jury trial in Florida state court for alleged fraud. Defense verdict for Honeywell. Breed v. Honeywell (formerly AlliedSignal).

  • Represented for Innophos in indemnification action in New York state court. Summary judgment for complete indemnification for plaintiff Innophos. Judgment affirmed by the Appellate Division and New York Court of Appeals. Innophos v. Rhodia.

  • Represented Calpine Energy in $19 billion valuation litigation. (Bankr. S.D.N.Y.).

Energy Litigation

  • Lead counsel for Chesapeake Energy and Chesapeake Appalachia in cases in state and federal courts in which oil and gas lessors assert claims related to their leases and operations.

  • Represent BP America in putative class action by royalty owners. After evidentiary hearing, trial court denied class certification. Trial court ruling was affirmed by Oklahoma Court of Appeals. Watts v. Amoco Production Co.

  • Lead counsel for Chesapeake Exploration in oil and gas dispute. District Court held that oil and gas leases do not permit lessors to terminate the leases but instead grant Chesapeake Exploration a preferential right to renew the leases. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. v. Catlett Quality Plumbing & Heating, Inc., et al. (N.D. Oh.).

Class Actions

  • Represented Charter Communications in defense of putative class action alleging tying violation of federal and state antitrust laws. Successfully defended action and case dismissed. Bodet v. Charter Communications (E.D. La.).

  • Represented AOL in defense of putative class action regarding membership data and billing practices. Gergel v. AOL (C.D. Cal.); In re AOL SOSA (MDL - C.D. Cal.).

  • Represented AOL in defense of putative class actions regarding software interoperability allegations. In re AOL Software Version 5.0 (MDL - S.D. Fla.); In re AOL Software Version 6.0 (MDL - N.D. Ill.).


  • Represented Nationwide in NASD securities arbitration. Defense verdict for Nationwide. Kane v. Nationwide Insurance.

  • Represented for Nationwide in NASD arbitration. Judgment for Nationwide. Dadds v. Nationwide Insurance.

  • Represented defendants in securities litigation in S.D.N.Y. and state court in New York. Matters dismissed with prejudice. Goehl v. Lee.


  • Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC., v. Scout Petroleum, LLC (3rd Cir. 2016). The Third Circuit held that the availability of class arbitration is a question of arbitrability to be decided by courts unless the parties clearly and unmistakably provide otherwise and concluded the leases at issue did not clearly and unmistakably delegate the question of class arbitrability to the arbitrators.

  • Henry v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 2014 WL 113999 (6th Cir. 2014). The Sixth Circuit reversed the trial court’s ruling and ordered that judgment be entered in favor of Chesapeake. The Court held that Chesapeake’s filing of a Declaration of Notice of Pooled Unit constituted operations and extended the lease term.

  • Stewart v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C., 2013 WL 5832343 (6th Cir. 2013). The Sixth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling that Chesapeake’s interpretation of Ohio oil and gas leases does not permit lessors to terminate leases, but grants Chesapeake a preferential right to renew leases.

  • Breakman v. AOL LLC, 15 A.3d 219 (D.C. 2011) (en banc). Represented AOL, in a case of first impression, arguing that District of Columbia courts, like federal courts, require a plaintiff to allege an injury-in-fact to have standing. The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the action against AOL.

Civil Rights & Pro Bono

  • Lead counsel for plaintiffs challenging voting restrictions in North Carolina. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. McCrory, 831 F.3d 204 (4th Cir.2016), cert. denied 137 S. Ct. 1399 (2017). The work has been detailed in the National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List.

  • Represent veterans seeking Combat-Related Special Compensation disability benefits.

  • Lead counsel (Court-appointed) for plaintiff in civil rights matter. Jury verdict for plaintiff for $3.5 million. (D.D.C.).

Other Distinctions

Member, Class of 2016 ADR Champions, National Law Journal

Recognized by The Legal 500 U.S. for Energy Litigation: Oil and Gas

Chair, Recruiting Committee for the Washington, D.C. Office

Member, The George Washington University Law School Board of Advisors

The George Washington University Law Review, Notes Editor

The George Washington University Legal Research & Writing Fellow

Jacob Burns Merit Scholar


U.S. Supreme Court, 2014

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 2000

U.S. Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit, 2014

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 2008

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2012

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 2000

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, 2012

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, 2014

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, 2014

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