|J.D., 1995, with distinction, Emory University School of Law|
|B.B.A., 1992, University of Kentucky, Dean’s List, all semesters|
|U.S. District Court, District of Colorado|
|U.S. Court of Federal Claims|
50 for Colorado, 2009
40 Under Forty, 2008
Editor, FOREcast (Funding Opportunities for Renewable Energy), Brownstein's periodic newsletter on renewable energy funding issues
Managing Editor, Bankruptcy Law Journal, Emory University School of Law
Colorado Bar Association
Colorado Women’s Bar Association
Georgia Bar Association
Michelle's focus is on environmental litigation, environmental due diligence, energy law and land use for a variety of clients, including utilities, residential developers and other real estate developers and energy development companies. She chairs the firm's Renewable Energy Practice Group, and is Editor of FOREcast, the Group's periodic newsletter reporting on funding opportunities for renewable energy projects.
Michelle represents clients in both federal and state courts in litigation involving CERCLA, Endangered Species Act, water quality, including Clean Water Act permitting compliance, NEPA challenges, and federal claims actions against the United States. Michelle has also represented clients in a variety of administrative proceedings before state agencies including the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Office of Public Safety.
Specifically, Michelle's litigation experience includes representing development clients in actions involving the recovery of costs to remediate contaminated properties under CERCLA and the indemnification provisions of the Defense Authorization Act. Most recently, she successfully represented a group of residential homebuilders in a federal court lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense to recover costs incurred by the homebuilders to clean up asbestos-contaminated property owned by the homebuilders on a former military base. Prior to that, Michelle worked as part of a litigation team that assisted another development client to reach a favorable settlement in a CERCLA cost recovery action, involving the remediation of munitions on a former military base.
Michelle's litigation experience also includes current representation of a major California water district in Endangered Species Act litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. She has also represented a several clients in cases filed in federal court under the federal Clean Water Act, representing both defendants and plaintiffs on a variety of complex water quality issues.
Michelle also represented a major power company in the consultation process with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Services under the federal Endangered Species Act in conjunction with relicensing of its federal hydropower facility. She represented this same client in the first ever administrative matter filed pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 challenging mandatory ESA conditions proposed for the company's renewed hydropower license. The administrative matter ultimately resulted in a favorable settlement for the company on many of the challenged issues. Michelle's ESA experience also includes assisting a variety of development entities evaluate ESA impacts in conjunction with residential and commercial development projects.
In addition to her litigation experience, Michelle regularly advises clients on environmental compliance and liability matters, including ongoing regulatory compliance issues, liability associated with the acquisition of contaminated property and strategies for minimizing environmental liability exposure.
Prior to joining Brownstein, Michelle served as general counsel for the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta, where her work focused on Clean Water Act permitting and administrative litigation. Michelle began her legal career at Smith, Gambrell and Russell, where she represented and advised clients on a wide range of environmental matters, including endangered species, water quality laws, hazardous waste laws and regulations, underground storage tank issues and state nuisance, trespass and riparian rights laws.
|Represented Riviera Holdings Corporation, a Las Vegas casino operator, in negotiating the terms of the $76 million sale of its Riviera Black Hawk casino in Colorado to an affiliate of Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. The transaction was structured as a sale of 100 percent of the common stock of the Riviera subsidiary operating the Black Hawk casino.|
|Represented Lube Distributions Holdings Inc, a portfolio company of KRG Capital Partners in the sale of Petro-Choice, the largest distributor of consumable commercial, industrial and passenger vehicle lubricants in the Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest regions of the U.S, to Greenbriar Equity Group.|
|The firm is assisting the Cotter Corporation address bonding, decommissioning, and reclamation problems with its uranium milling operations in Canyon City, Colorado. Specifically, we are negotiating with Colorado over the extent of the remediation necessary for closure of the site, and the amount the company must bond as part of the decommissioning and remediation warranties to ensure closure. The firm is also defending the company in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups over the scope of the necessary remediation and the amount of the decommissioning warranty.|
|Represented KSL Capital Partners, LLC as the purchaser in its $130 million acquisition of the Royal Palm Hotel located in Miami Beach, FL, including $90 million of seller financing. Brownstein also negotiated the purchase and sale agreement and seller financing documents, completed due diligence and closed the acquisition in less than 60 days.|
|Assisted Graham Packaging Company, L.P. in a $568 million strategic acquisition of another manufacturer and supplier. In the transaction, Graham Packaging Company acquired all of the limited partnership units of the target company from the company's limited partners and all of the stock of each of the company's three corporate general partners from their stockholders. A manufacturer and supplier of technology-based, customized blow molded plastic containers for the branded food and beverage, household, personal care/specialty and automotive lubricants product categories, Graham Packaging Company is a portfolio company of Blackstone Capital Group.|
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Publications & Presentations
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|"Looking Ahead at Water in the Metropolitan Area: Will Water Limits Effectively 'Douse' Economic and Agricultural Growth?" Panel Moderator, Water Law Review, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, April, 23, 2013|
|"Brownstein Client Update: Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser Defense to Superfund Liability," Brownstein Client Update, October 13, 2011|
|"Special Report - Water Woes Dry Up Solar Projects," Colorado Energy News, August 16, 2010|