Karen L. Spaulding


303-407-4467 | direct

303-407-4499 | firm

800-886-6566 | fax


“We assist our clients in the initial stages of a dispute to try and avoid costly litigation but we understand that at times litigation or arbitration is the best means to resolve business disputes. Because we know the oil and gas and energy industries we are able to provide advice on the appropriate strategy from the outset, and work towards a cost effective early resolution of the case, if possible. However, if a case needs to be tried, we thrive in the courtroom and welcome the challenge of taking the case and any appeal through to a positive conclusion.”

Beatty & Wozniak, P.C. | Karen Spaulding Litigation Attorney Denver

Printable Bio



Karen Spaulding focuses her litigation and trial practice on business disputes involving oil and gas, energy, and employment matters in federal and state courts in Colorado. She has over 30 years of federal and state court litigation experience and has tried over 20 jury and bench trials. She has also represented clients at many administrative hearings.  ost recently, Karen won a large plaintiffs verdict in U.S. District Court for a Colorado-based oil and gas company on the issue of contract formation involving executed participation offer letters and Authorizations for Expenditure (AFE’s), and the defendants breach of these contracts.

Karen also regularly counsels the firm’s corporate clients concerning employment law matters. Her employment law counseling includes employment agreements, employment releases, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, discrimination claims, investigation of discrimination complaints, independent contractor versus employee issues, drafting and revisions to employment handbooks, and issues regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and other federal and state employment statutes.




  • Represented oil and gas operators in state and federal court litigation matters related to breach of contract, contract and deed interpretation, underpayment of royalties, trespass, conversion, breach of implied covenants, injuries related to natural gas explosions and water well contamination, and wrongful death claims related to oil field work.

  • Represented E&P company in a Delaware Chancery Court trial in 2019 brought by minority shareholders to obtain books and records under the Delaware Chancery Code, which request was in excess of those records that are essential and necessary to value their minority shares.

  • Represented a midstream operating company which obtained a 2019 Order from Judge Tyson in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Colorado, that its gas purchase and salt water disposal agreements were each a covenant running with the land, so could not be rejected by the debtor in its bankruptcy case.

  • Obtained the 14th largest jury verdict in Colorado in 2017 for a Colorado E&P company in a contract formation case related to executed participation offer letters and AFE’s when the defendants breached those contracts.  The jury’s verdict was affirmed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019.

  • Represented a Houston-based oil and gas company on the issue of reasonable development of the mineral estate in the Wattenberg Field in which the company obtained a defense verdict at trial in Weld County District Court.

  • Represented oil and gas operators in complaints for temporary and permanent injunctive relief related to continuous operations and seismic undertakings against surface owners who deny access to leased minerals and oil and gas operations.

  • Represented oil and gas operators in quiet title actions, including claims for declaratory relief and unjust enrichment related to unpaid revenues.

  • Represented a Colorado-based oil and gas company in a North Dakota quiet title action regarding a question of first impression in the interpretation of certain conveyancing documents, which was affirmed by the North Dakota Supreme Court in 2019.

  • Obtained a Court Order denying class certification in a royalty underpayment case in Garfield County District Court in 2016.  After numerous individual royalty underpayment cases were subsequently filed in Denver District and Garfield County District Courts, obtained Orders dismissing the actions for failure to exhaust administrative remedies at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

  • Represented the Colorado Oil & Gas Association in the COGA v. Longmont litigation which involved Longmont’s 2012 enactment of Article XVI of the City’s Home Rule Charter, which prohibited the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells and the storage and disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste within the City’s limits.  In 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court determined Article XVI was an impermissible and invalid ban because it was preempted by the Colorado Oil & Gas Act.


  • Represented oil and gas operators before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in payment of proceeds claims after dismissal by the state court tribunals because of the plaintiff’s failure to first exhaust administrative remedies.

  • Obtained non-tributary groundwater determinations before the State Engineer’s Office, State of Colorado, for oil and gas development within such designated areas.

  • Represented oil and gas operators before the Colorado Department of Revenue requesting sales tax and severance tax refunds which were denied by the Tax Conferee.

  • Represented oil and gas operators before the Board of Assessment Appeals regarding valuation of oil and gas related equipment used in Colorado counties.


  • Represented oil and gas employers in state court litigation involving trade secret misappropriation, breach of confidentiality agreements, and wrongful termination.

  • Represented oil and gas employers before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involving employee discrimination claims.

  • Represented oil and gas employer before the U.S. Department of Labor in a whistleblower complaint filed under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

  • Employment law counseling including employment agreements and releases, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, confidentiality agreements, employee handbooks, and other company policies.


  • Oil & Gas

  • Natural Resources

  • Exploration & Production

  • Midstream

Practice Areas


  • State of Colorado

  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

  • Admitted pro hac vice in federal and state courts in Utah, Texas, North Dakota and Wyoming


  • Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, J.D., 1986

  • Environmental Law, Law Review Staff, 1984-1985

  • University of Colorado, Boulder, B.A. Political Science, 1979

Professional Activities

  • 2014 Top Women in Energy, Denver Business Journal

  • 2013 Volunteer of the Year, Denver Bar Association

  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

  • Colorado Oil & Gas Association

  • Western Energy Alliance

  • Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen

  • Colorado Defense Lawyers Association

  • American, Colorado and Denver Bar Associations

Speeches and Publications

  • Water Issues Flow in the Mountain West, The American Oil & Gas Reporter, March 2011.  Co-authored with Kenneth A. Wonstolen

  • Frequent industry article contributions to the Beatty & Wozniak Energy Law Newsletter, 2006 - present

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