Christopher S. Gunderson

Partner
Chris Gunderson

Chris Gunderson is a litigator who counsels clients through large, complex matters in court and contested regulatory matters before state utility commissions. Chris regularly represents major energy and utility companies and has obtained approval of some of the most significant energy infrastructure projects and utility mergers in the mid-Atlantic. Chris also advises clients in state utility rate cases (including fully forecasted multi-year rate plans), Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) proceedings, and compliance with state energy laws. In both his litigation and state utility commission practices, Chris seeks resolutions that advance clients' business goals and mitigate risk.

Experience

Representative Matters

Energy and Utility Litigation and Contested Regulatory Proceedings

  • Represented Skipjack Offshore Energy, a subsidiary of Ørsted North America (the U.S. arm of a Danish energy company), before the Maryland Public Service Commission to secure necessary approvals to construct up to 846 MW of additional wind generation off the Delmarva coast.  The Skipjack project will be Maryland’s largest-ever renewable energy project, which is expected to cause a 38-million-ton net reduction in carbon emissions and generate over $800 million in economic impact
  • Represented Dan’s Mountain Wind Force, LLC before the Maryland Public Service Commission to secure necessary approvals to construct up to 70 MW of land-based wind generation in Western Maryland.The Dan’s Mountain project will be one of Maryland’s largest land-based wind generation stations.Regulatory approval was upheld on appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals
  • Represented Transource Maryland, LLC before the Maryland Public Service Commission to secure necessary approvals to construct new electric transmission lines in Maryland for the purpose of relieving economic congestion on the regional transmission system grid
  • Advised a competitive electric transmission developer regarding its bid to construct transmission upgrades in response to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ solicitation for transmission to support the deliverability of 7,500 MW of offshore wind to New Jersey by 2035
  • Represented and assisted multiple utility companies in contested rate cases (both historical test year applications and fully forecasted multi-year rate plans), including providing strategic advice, discovery support, trial preparation, post-hearing briefing, and appeals
  • Represented multiple electric transmission and generation companies in the mid-Atlantic region in CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) proceedings for the approval of a new transmission line and generation development
  • Represented AltaGas in its contested application to obtain regulatory approval in Maryland and the District of Columbia for its $9 billion acquisition of WGL and Washington Gas Light Company. Obtained approval of the transaction from both the Maryland Public Service Commission and the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, creating a $17 billion North American energy company
  • Represented two national energy companies in their contested application to obtain regulatory approval in Maryland for their $6.8 billion merger. Obtained approval of the merger in Maryland and defeated a motion to stay that approval pending appellate review Represented two national energy companies in their contested application to obtain regulatory approval in Maryland for their $7.9 billion merger. Obtained approval of the merger, which created the largest competitive energy provider in the United States

Commercial, Insurance, and Product Liability Litigation

  • Represents a coalition of public charter schools in Baltimore City in litigation against the Baltimore City School Board to secure appropriate funding. Litigation is pending
  • Represented the largest health insurer in the mid-Atlantic region in litigation against an insurance regulator to protect the insurer's surplus from unauthorized and imprudent regulatory taking. All claims were resolved as a result of a favorable settlement
  • Represented an international insurance brokerage in a multijurisdictional dispute involving alleged tortious interference with a competitor. All claims were dismissed as a result of a favorable settlement that protected the brokerage's ability to pursue new business interests
  • Represented a global life insurance company in a lawsuit filed by a large commercial bank in federal court. The plaintiff sought $500 million based upon allegations arising from its purchase of bank-owned life insurance and subsequent investment in a hedge fund exposed to mortgage-backed securities. All claims were dismissed as a result of a favorable settlement
  • Represented an international insurance brokerage in a broker liability dispute involving allegations that the broker failed to obtain adequate coverage for a multistate manufacturing business after one of its facilities was completely destroyed by a fire. Substituted for prior defense counsel and developed a new litigation strategy that led to a favorable settlement of all claims following briefing of novel causation theory
  • Represented a national home improvement retailer in defense against a $300 million breach of contract claim involving installation services. All claims were dismissed on motions to dismiss that defeated initial and amended complaints
  • Represented a national home improvement retailer in defense against breach of contract claims involving the cancellation of various supply contracts due to commercial impracticability following Hurricane Katrina. Defense judgment was obtained on summary judgment using UCC contract theory thereafter applied by the client in other, similar pending litigation
  • Represented a national weight management company in a securities fraud class action and shareholder derivative suits related to a restatement of the company's financial statements due to accounting errors. All claims were dismissed on motion to dismiss with no leave to amend granted
  • Represented a global pharmaceutical company in a mass tort litigation involving diet drugs. Handled fact discovery involving depositions of treating physicians and cardiologists for dozens of pending cases in coordinated proceedings that led to a favorable resolution of claims through mediation
  • Represented a global pharmaceutical company in mass tort litigation involving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication. Managed drafting and coordination of motions to dismiss complaints filed in state court that obtained favorable rulings dismissing strict liability causes of action
  • Represented a national manufacturer of mulch distribution machinery in defense against product liability claims involving the death of a landscape operator. Utilized site inspections to uncover evidence of third-party conduct that supported alternative causation theories. All claims were dismissed as a result of a favorable settlement

Government Investigations

  • Represented one of the largest universities in the country in a Clery Act program review conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. Managed and worked with a team of more than a dozen lawyers to investigate and respond to the Department's review
  • Represented a global financial and insurance company in connection with an SEC-appointed independent consultant's examination. Following an SEC investigation, an independent consultant engaged in a multi-year review of the company's corporate compliance and disclosure policies in numerous aspects, including anti-money laundering, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international trade regulations (OFAC, antiboycott regulations, export control regulations), privacy and data security, and consumer finance. Managed and worked with a team of more than a dozen lawyers to investigate and respond to the SEC's review
  • Represented a global pharmaceutical company in an internal investigation concerning safety profile data used in support of a new drug application. Managed and worked with a team of six lawyers to investigate underlying trial data to determine the likelihood of FDA approval for internal business analysis

Employee Benefit Plan Litigation

  • Represented multiple global life, accident, and disability insurance companies in numerous lawsuits filed by claimants seeking benefits under both ERISA and non-ERISA benefit plans. Mr. Gunderson's experience includes claims seeking short-term disability benefits, long-term disability benefits, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits
  • Represented a Fortune 100 financial services company in defense against a lawsuit related to a claimant's selection of investments under an ERISA-governed retirement savings plan. The court dismissed all claims on a motion to dismiss with no leave to amend granted
  • Represented a life, accident, and disability insurance company in numerous consumer regulatory complaints before the Maryland Insurance Administration. Obtained favorable rulings in each matter, which were each also affirmed by the Maryland Insurance Commissioner's Office

Insights

Credentials
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Education

  • J.D. University of Maryland School of Law 2003
    • Associate editor, Maryland Law Review
    • Asper Fellowship Internship, Honorable Paul W. Grimm, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • B.A. Towson University 2000
    • Dean's List
    • Provost Scholarship

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Clerk Experience

  • Honorable Paul W. Grimm, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Former member, Board of Directors, Disability Rights Maryland
  • Member, Maryland State Bar Association