Fred Yarger is a partner in the Denver office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where his practice focuses on complex litigation in trial and appellate courts, including cases involving administrative law and regulatory matters. Before joining the firm, Mr. Yarger served as Solicitor General for the State of Colorado, one of the three senior leaders in the 450-person Department of Law. In that role, his primary responsibility was to lead or oversee the most challenging and high-profile trial and appellate litigation facing the state. Mr. Yarger has argued multiple merits cases and filed dozens of briefs before the United States Supreme Court, and many of his cases have received intense national media attention.
Some of Mr. Yarger’s most significant matters have involved complex federal and state regulatory issues affecting the oil and gas industry. He successfully challenged several nationwide federal regulations, including the Bureau of Land Management’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule and the 2015 rule defining “Waters of the United States” for purposes of the Clean Water Act. At the state level, he has litigated questions concerning the power of local governments to regulate oil and gas operations and the statewide legal standards by which the industry is regulated. Mr. Yarger’s commercial litigation experience includes transnational business disputes, multi-jurisdiction class actions, and securities matters.
In 2018, Law Week Colorado named Mr. Yarger one of the “Top Litigators” of the year, and the Denver Business Journal recognized him as a “Who’s Who in Energy” for his experience litigating issues affecting the oil and gas industry. He is a three-time winner of the National Association of Attorneys General “Best U.S. Supreme Court Brief” award, which the Colorado Attorney General’s Office had not won before his tenure. He also received two “Exceptional Performance” awards from the Colorado Attorney General.
Mr. Yarger’s representative matters include the following:
- Colo. Oil & Gas Conservation Comm’n v. Martinez (Colorado Supreme Court): Represented Colorado’s oil and gas regulatory agency in proceedings brought by activists seeking to drastically alter the regulatory framework for the industry in Colorado.
- Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm’n (U.S. Supreme Court): Argued a “blockbuster” case defending the application of Colorado anti-discrimination laws in the field of LGBT rights.
- Texas v. New Mexico & Colorado (U.S. Supreme Court): Argued an interstate dispute over the allocation of the waters of the Rio Grande.
- Nelson v. Colorado (U.S. Supreme Court): Argued a challenge to state rules governing refunds of criminal fees. Assisted with subsequent legislative effort to make Colorado a leader in granting due process rights to defendants who seek refunds after reversal of their convictions.
- Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado (U.S. Supreme Court): Argued a case challenging longstanding jury secrecy rules when a verdict is subject to an allegation of racial bias among jurors.
- Agilent v. Colo. Dep’t of Revenue (Colorado Supreme Court): Represented the Colorado Department of Revenue in corporate taxation cases valued at over $35 million.
- Waters of the United States Rule (District of North Dakota and 6th Circuit): Counsel for Colorado in the multistate coalition that won the first injunction against the federal “Waters of the United States Rule.”
- Colorado, South Dakota, Utah & Wyoming v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior (District of Wyoming and 10th Circuit): Represented Colorado in a multi-state challenge to rules imposed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on hydraulic fracturing. Won preliminary and permanent injunctions against the rules in the trial court and defended those rulings on appeal until the rules were withdrawn.
- New Mexico v. Colorado (U.S. Supreme Court): Successfully defended Colorado against a lawsuit filed directly in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking hundreds of millions of dollars under federal hazardous waste laws for the discharge of mineralized mine water into an interstate river.
- Wild Earth Guardians v. U.S. Dep’t of the Interior (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia): Represented Colorado as intervenor defending the process by which the United States auctions oil and gas leases within the State of Colorado.
- People ex rel. Coffman v. City and Cnty. of Boulder (Colorado District Court): Won a court order recognizing the illegality of a local oil and gas moratorium in light of preemptive state law.
- Masters v. Sch. District No. 1 (Colorado Supreme Court): Overturned an adverse court of appeals ruling and preserved a landmark state law reforming tenure policies for public school teachers.
- Direct Marketing Ass’n v. Brohl (10th Circuit Court of Appeals): On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, won judgment upholding the constitutionality of a law estimated to increase sales tax collection by hundreds of millions of dollars.
- People ex rel. Coffman v. Castle Law Group (Colorado Supreme Court): In a consumer protection case with tens of millions of dollars in potential monetary awards, won an emergency appeal to halt trial and preserve the State’s most important legal claims.
- Nebraska & Oklahoma v. Colorado (U.S. Supreme Court): Successfully defended Colorado’s marijuana regulatory framework against an interstate preemption claim filed directly in the Supreme Court.
- Defended a public company auditor at trial and on appeal in an administrative proceeding brought by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Counsel to a domestic company seeking to protect and enforce an international marketing and distribution agreement.
- Represented the patent holder of an anti-depressant in defense of class-action antitrust and consumer protection claims.
Earlier in his legal career, Mr. Yarger served as Assistant Solicitor General in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, was an associate at Gibson Dunn’s Denver and Washington, D.C. offices, and clerked for Judge Mark R. Filip of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and now-Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Mr. Yarger graduated with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where he received the Beale and Mulroy Prizes for his writing and legal advocacy and, through his academic achievements, earned induction into the Order of the Coif. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Statistics from Dartmouth College, where he graduated magna cum laude and with honors.
Mr. Yarger is admitted to practice law in the State of Colorado, in the District of Columbia, and in numerous federal courts across the country. He is a member of the Colorado Supreme Court Standing Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct and is a frequent presenter on regulatory law, appellate practice, and constitutional law.