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Brett L. Price
Mr. Price is a shareholder with the firm who has more than three decades of legal experience. Over the years, he has represented governmental entities, public and private companies, and individuals in the areas of property tax law and civil litigation, commercial and business law, oil and gas law, construction law, real estate and bankruptcy matters. Currently, a significant portion of his practice focuses on complex litigation involving the evaluation and taxation of high value energy resource and industrial/commercial properties. In this area, he primarily represents counties and a select number of municipalities and special districts. He also continues to provide litigation services for private sector clients in the areas of real estate, construction, general business and commercial matters, and bankruptcy.
Mr. Price represents public sector clients throughout the state of California. His private sector clients are primarily located in the Kern county area; however, he also represents a number of companies with a statewide presence. He provides legal services to counties and other public agencies, private businesses, and individuals in the following areas:
- Property tax law
- Business and commercial law
- Civil litigation
- Oil, gas and energy law
- Real estate law
- Construction law
- Insolvency and bankruptcy
Mr. Price is a highly experienced litigator, having represented clients numerous times before state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels, local and state administrative bodies, and before state legislative bodies including, among others, the State Board of Equalization regarding matters involving property tax issues.
Mr. Price has represented assessors, counties and other governmental entities throughout California in complex litigation involving the evaluation and taxation of energy resource, mineral, and precious metal properties, including oil and gas properties, geothermal properties, hydroelectric properties, co-generation facilities, refining/processing facilities, and sand and gravel properties.
Mr. Price has practiced law in Bakersfield since 1976. Before joining KMTG, he was in solo practice where he emphasized property tax litigation, business, commercial, construction, oil and gas law and complex bankruptcy matters. Prior to that he served as managing partner of a small Bakersfield firm for a number of years.
Following are examples of cases Mr. Price has handled on behalf of his clients:
- Texaco Producing, Inc., et al., v. County of Kern(1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 1029 , 78 Cal.Rptr.2d 433 — He successfully represented Kern County and the Assessor’s Office in a case involving Texaco’s challenge of the appraisal methods used by the Kern County Assessor as well as the appraised value of oil producing property owned by Texaco. The case, was the longest and largest property tax cases previously heard in the State of California, took 129 days of hearings and resulted in a record of over 30,000 pages. The amount in controversy for the three years, combined, was approximately Three Billion Five Hundred Million Dollars ($3,500,000,000.00) in value. Mr. Price prevailed before the Kern County Assessment Appeals Board, Superior Court and Fifth District Court of Appeals.
- Tenneco West vs. County of Kern (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 596; 239 Cal.Rptr. 612 — He represented James W. Maples, the Kern County Assessor, and the County of Kern in connection with an equalization hearing and related trial involving the assessment of certain mineral rights and underground gas storage rights located in Kern County, California. The case involved substantial and novel issues of law relating to the assessment of real property under the provisions of Article XIII A of the California Constitution and related statutes and regulations. The amount in controversy was approximately $25,000,000.00. The case also involved issues concerning arbitrary and penal assessments. In a partially published opinion the Fifth District Court of Appeals upheld the position of the Assessor on each issue of law and fact, affirming the decisions of the Superior Court and the Assessment Appeals Board in all respects.
- Jones vs. Basich (1986) 176 Cal.App.3d 513; 222 Cal.Rptr. 26. — This matter consisted of a trial before the labor commissioner, trial de novo before the Superior Court, and subsequent appeal to the Fifth District Court of Appeals relating to the procedural requirements for appearance and participation, on behalf of an employer, in connection with a labor hearing. Mr. Price represented Mr. Vernon E. Jones, an employee who worked for more than six months without being paid.. Judgment was entered for his Client by the Labor Commissioner. Thereafter, Defendants appealed the decision seeking a trial de novo in the Superior Court. The Superior Court ruled in favor of Mr. Jones. However, the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, noting the merit in the arguments made on behalf of Mr. Jones but indicating that adjustments to the statutory requirements would be better made by the legislature.
- Central California Power Agency No. 1 v. County of Sonoma (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 1614. — Mr. Price represented the Sonoma County Assessors Office in this matter. It involved a complex property tax litigation relating to the proper application of the provisions of California Constitution, Article XIII, Section 11 to the assessment of mineral rights properties owned and operated by a governmental joint powers agency outside of its jurisdiction (geothermal properties and related facilities in the Geysers Geothermal Steam Field). The case covered many tax years (1993-94 – 1997-98, et seq); and, involved millions of dollars of tax revenue. The trial of this matter, initially before the State Board of Equalization, then the Superior Court, and the appeals spanned approximately 7 years and had a substantial record. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s Judgment and the Decision of the State Board of Equalization that mineral rights which did not exist in 1967 should be exempt from tax under Section 11; and that all interests in land, even those owned by private entities or not in existence in 1967 should be strictly valued under the limitations of Section 11.
- Coso Energy Developers, et al., V. County Of Inyo (2004), 122 Cal. App. 4th 1512, *; 19 Cal. Rptr. 3d 669. — Mr. Price successfully represented the Inyo County Assessor before the Inyo County Board of Equalization and Inyo County before the Superior Court in a landmark case regarding the taxability of private interests in real and personal property on most federal lands in the State of California. The taxpayers contended that such property should be deemed to be exclusively governed by the federal government and therefore exempt from property tax or any other state regulation. The Assessor and County contended that such property was taxable, and the taxpayers arguments to the contrary were without merit and contrary to law. The Superior Court ruled in the County’s. Later the Inyo County Counsel handled the case on appeal and prevailed, based, in large part, on the prior legal work of Mr. Price.
Professional Activities & Affiliations
Mr. Price's professional activities include speaking before professional and public service organizations on a variety of legal topics. He also serves as an arbitrator and has served as a pro tem judge for the Kern County Courts. In that regard he serves on the State Bar Arbitration Panel and on the Kern County Bar Association's Arbitration Panel. He is currently serving as Immediate Past President of the Kern County Bar Association, and has served on the Board of Directors and as a chair for a variety of bar association special projects.
His professional affiliations include:
- Immediate Past President, Board of Directors, Kern County Bar Association
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, Central California Bankruptcy Association
- Member, American Bankruptcy Institute
- Member, California State Bar Association
- Martindale-Hubbell BV Rated Attorney
Mr. Price's community activities include:
- Serving on the National Legal Commission for American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), and serving as a National Referee and an Advanced Management Instructor and Advanced Referee Instructor
Admitted to Practice
- All California State Courts
- United States District Courts, Eastern, Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California
- United States Bankruptcy Courts, Eastern, Northern, Central and Southern Districts of California
- United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- United States Tax Court
- United States Supreme Court
J.D. University of California, Davis, 1975
B.A. University of California, Los Angeles, 1972