Derrick Braaten


Derrick moved to North Dakota to work with Sarah Vogel Law Partners over a decade ago, and has since taken over the firm which now bears his name. Derrick has built a reputation in the region as a prominent advocate for landowners and landowner rights.  He prides himself on taking on giants, whether those are large corporations or the government, and standing up for the land and its stewards.  Derrick has a long history working with agricultural organizations both as an attorney and often as a board member. Derrick is a strong advocate for soil health, and was the 2019 Merit Award recipient from the Soil and Water Conservation Society for his conservation efforts. 

Practice Focus

Derrick’s practice has always centered on providing legal services to family farmers and ranchers, and other private landowners. Derrick’s practice focuses on standing up for landowners and the land, whether it is forcing an energy developer to clean up a spill or protecting private property rights from government overreach in eminent domain and other areas of law. Derrick handles many matters in this area, ranging from negotiating pipeline easements and wind leases to complex multi-jurisdictional litigation against large oil and gas exploration and production companies. Derrick continues to maintain a significant agricultural law practice as well, handling matters such as crop insurance arbitrations, NAD appeals, elevator insolvency actions, and other complex ag litigation.

  • Monson v. Zenergy, Inc., No. 4:08-CV-091, 2009 WL 10688639 (D.N.D. Nov. 2, 2009) (Obtained settlement for landowners related to the Charbonneau Creek spill, one the largest saltwater spills in North Dakota’s history.)
  • Sagebrush Res., LLC v. Peterson, 2014 ND 3, 841 N.W.2d 705 (Defended landowners against claims by operators related to landowners’ reporting of violations to state agencies. Operator brough lawsuit alleging trespass because landowners had access lands with permission of landowners or their own land, and operator claimed trespass as to its well sites. Supreme Court of North Dakota determined that landowners had a right to be on their own land and had permission to be on other well site, and that operator’s claims were frivolous. Collected attorneys’ fees for clients as well.)
  • Gas Flaring Litigation (Vogel v. Marathon Oil Co., 2016 ND 104, 879 N.W.2d 471; Sorenson v. Burlington Res. Oil & Gas Co., L.P., No. 4:13-CV-132, 2014 WL 12605495 (D.N.D. May 14, 2014); and numerous others) (The Gas Flaring Litigation consisted of over a dozen class action lawsuits filed against all major operators in North Dakota related to illegal flaring of natural gas. While even most of the operators admitted to illegal flaring and that they owed royalties, the courts determined that claims must be brought before the ND Industrial Commission rather than in a court of law. Nonetheless, the Industrial Commission and the industry began making more significant progress on the flaring issue after these class actions).
  • Tank v. Burlington Res. Oil & Gas Co., LP, No. 4:10-CV-088, 2013 WL 3766526 (D.N.D. July 16, 2013) (Recovered significant royalties and interest for mineral owner, and recovered attorneys’ fees for efforts as well.)
  • Johnson v. Statoil Oil & Gas LP, 2018 ND 227, 918 N.W.2d 58 (This was a pivotal case before ND Supreme Court determining that a Pugh clause must be given effect to divide a lease based on language in the Pugh clause. This case is particularly significant because it calls into the question the general applicability of the Egeland v. Continental Resources, Inc. case)/li>
  • Siana Oil & Gas Co., L.L.C. v. Dublin Co., 2018 ND 164, 915 N.W.2d 134 (Prevailed in highly complex title dispute between numerous mineral owners and operators.)
  • North Dakota Pipeline Company LLC vs. James and Krista Botsford Trust and James R Botsford, et al., Civ. No. 18-2014-CV-01058 (Defended landowners against eminent domain proceeding by Enbridge subsidiary North Dakota Pipeline Company. The Pipeline Company dropped the action just ahead of arguments before the Supreme Court of North Dakota, and agreed to pay all the landowners’ attorneys’ fees and expenses.)
  • Kartch v. EOG Res., Inc., 845 F. Supp. 2d 995 (D.N.D. 2012) (Successfully settled landowner compensation litigation after establishing numerous key principles of law regarding the Surface Damages Act, such as the requirement to make annual payments when requested by landowners.)
  • Renbarger v. Zavanna, LLC, No. 4:12-CV-00042, 2014 WL 29505 (D.N.D. Jan. 3, 2014) / Wold v. Zavanna, LLC, No. 4:12-CV-00043, 2013 WL 6858827 (D.N.D. Dec. 31, 2013) (companion cases brought to test the meaning of the phrase “commencement of drilling operations.” Unfortunately the current rule was established, which gives operators wide latitude. Braaten Law firm brought these cases to make sure the law was clear, however, because prior to these cases most in the industry believes that drilling meant a drill bit in the ground. In these cases, North Dakota followed most other jurisdictions in allowing almost any activity to constitute “commencement of drilling operations.”)
  • Daryl and Christine Peterson v. Petro Harvester Operating Company, LLC, (ND Civil No. 05-2016-CV-00073) (Obtained a favorable settlement related to ongoing contamination caused by adjacent saltwater disposal well and numerous saltwater leaks and spills over the years. Settlement followed years of significant litigation before agencies and in state courts.)

Areas of Practice

  • Administrative Law
  • Agricultural Law
  • Business Law
  • Eminent Domain and Condemnation
  • Energy Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Oil and Gas Law
  • Property Law, Land Use, and Zoning
  • Saltwater Spills
  • Tribal Law and Federal Indian Law
  • Water Law
  • Wind Energy Law