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Michael L. Burnett focuses his practice primarily on construction litigation and all aspects of construction law, with a concentration on the representation of owners, general contractors, subcontractors and others in the construction industry. He assists clients through all stages of construction projects, including preparing and negotiating construction contracts, advising owners and contractors during the project so as to avoid and resolve disputes during projects, and litigating disputes subsequent to project completion. Michael has tried lawsuits to verdict in state and federal courts, both in Texas and outside of the state. In addition, he has tried a number of domestic and international arbitrations.


  • Construction litigation
  • Commercial litigation



  • Represented EPC contractor in dispute with owner regarding delay and extra work claims regarding two power plants located in former Soviet Union. The contract in dispute involved a contract price in excess of €250 million. After five weeks of arbitration hearings, obtained a net damages award for client in excess of €11 million. Following a hearing on costs, obtained an award in favor of client for approximately €3.83 million plus £189,000. Represented specialty subcontractor in a multi-party ICC arbitration. The arbitration involved a large construction project in south Texas and involved claims by the owner, the owner’s equipment supplier, the general contractor and our client. The claims arbitrated concerned defects in materials fabricated in Mexico and numerous change orders and delay claims.
  • Represented client on claims against the general contractor (and pass-through claims against the owner/owner’s supplier) due to significant impacts from the defective owner supplied materials. On the eve of the three week evidentiary hearing, was able to negotiate an advance payment and liquidating agreement under which the client obtained a recovery of approximately 95% of its damages.
  • Represented owner client in connection with the design and construction of a 50+ story residential development in Eastern Europe. This ICC arbitration involved the client’s termination of the general design build contractor. Tried the hearing for approximately three weeks. The matter was resolved through a confidential settlement following award.
  • Represented a US company against Spanish company in ICC arbitration involving the construction and application of a number of agreements related to a large EPC project in Latin America. The ICC arbitration in Spain was tried in 2011. A related arbitration was tried in Mexico City in 2012. Obtained awards voiding an agreement that otherwise would have divested the client of its interest in a company and its interest in a large EPC project in Latin America, while still exposing the client to very large contingent liabilities. The award also rejected the respondent’s claim that the client was in breach for having failed to post significant performance bonds, and awarded the client significant indemnities.
  • Represented a US company against fellow shareholder in a Mexican corporation regarding an EPC project in Mexico. Tried one week ICC arbitration in Canada. Obtained successful award for client divesting the respondent of its interest in the company and obtaining an award of damages and costs.
  • Represented technology owner in action involving contract and fraud claims by transferee under a technology transfer agreement and breach of contract claims under a licensing agreement for a separate technology. English and Indian law governed various claims. Effectively stayed district court action (in which claimant sought $580 million) and compelled arbitration of claims against all parties (including non-signatories) before the ICC. Obtained a take-nothing award as against transferee's claims, and obtained an approximately $2.5 million affirmative award against transferee.
  • Represented EPC client in defense of approximately $60 million of claims by owner against client regarding a power plant designed and supplied by the client. Contract involved a contract price in excess of $55 million. Obtained release of those claims following week long mediation with no payment being made by client.
  • Represented Chilean company/owner against claims for breach of contract and for payment of additional contractor fee asserted by general contractor regarding construction of chemical production facility. Obtained a take-nothing award in favor of client.
  • Represented Chilean company/owner of chemical production facility against claims asserted for breach of operating agreement by operator. Arbitrators’ award rejected the asserted claims.
  • Represented contractor in connection with two arbitrations regarding a large river remediation project (involving very significant quantities of dredging, caps and covers, and design work in relation to same) in Wisconsin. This representation spanned nearly ten years. The first arbitration resulted in settlement. The second arbitration was tried for three weeks in 2019 and resulted in a final award of nearly $10 million in favor of our client.
  • Represented EPC contractor in claim against owner in connection with claims for payment on a gas storage and processing facility in Wyoming (project value of approximately $85 million). Tried the client’s affirmative claims against the owner for two weeks in late 2014. In 2015, we tried the owner’s counterclaims. The Award was issued in fall 2015, and awarded the client a net affirmative award of approximately $19.8 million. This award also rejected approximately $39 million of additional damages and costs sought by owner against our client.
  • Represented mechanical and plumbing subcontractor in a AAA arbitration against a general contractor in connection with a military base project in Texas. Our client asserted claims for unpaid change orders, delay, impact and productivity damages. After a two-week evidentiary hearing in May 2017, we received an award in the client’s favor for approximately $2.3 million. The hearing involved approximately 10 fact witnesses and several expert witnesses.
  • Represented mechanical and plumbing subcontractor in a AAA arbitration by a general contractor in connection with a military base project in Texas. The general contractor asserted claims for approximately $1 million against our client. Our client asserted a counterclaim for unpaid change orders, delay, impact and productivity damages. After a two-week hearing in February 2017, we received an award in the client’s favor for approximately $2.8 million. This award found in the client’s favor on virtually all claims, and rejected the vast majority of the general contractor’s claims. The hearing involved approximately 12 fact witnesses and several expert witnesses.
  • Represented general contractor and MEP subcontractor in defense of approximately $1.5 million in breach of contract and wrongful termination claims brought by insulation subcontractor. Obtained an award dismissing the subcontractor's claim and obtained an affirmative judgment on behalf of client for approximately $600,000.
  • Represented EPC contractor against breach of contract, acceleration, fraud and other claims by erection subcontractor. Asserted counterclaim for breach of contract. Obtained a $5.5 million award on behalf of EPC contractor. Defended appeal/attempt to vacate award, and the award was upheld.
  • Represented general contractor in arbitration, pursuing claims against municipality pursuing claims for out of scope work. Obtained affirmative award for client.
  • Represented general contractor client in lawsuit pending before the ASBCA in connection with a project for the construction of a hurricane protection gate in New Orleans, Louisiana. The client’s claim was for additional costs arising out of differing sight conditions and constructive changes. Recovered approximately $10 million on behalf of client.
  • Substantial involvement and advice regarding wide-ranging and on-going contract and project management issues related to project management of on-going large scale environmental remediation project. Represented client in two different AAA arbitrations. The first arbitration (which involved various claims by both parties) was resolved in a settlement through which the client received approximately $7 million in value. The second arbitration concerned claims by our client against the PRP for various change orders, claims of delay and out of scope work. The matter was tried for approximately three weeks in mid-2019. The hearing resulted in an award in our client’s favor for approximately $10 million.
  • Represented EPC contractor on claims for differing sight conditions on military base project in the northeast. The dispute involved complex geotechnical engineering issues. Case was tried for one week before the ASBCA in October 2014. This appeal to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals involved determining whether subsurface water damaging soils at a construction site was natural or the result of leaking infrastructure. After a one-week trial, the Board of Contract Appeals issued its Final Opinion, in which the court found in favor of our client on all entitlement issues. The Government then settled the case, with the client receiving approximately 95% of the sought amount.
  • Represented Program Managing Contractor in several week trial (Colorado State district court) against approximately $13 million in breach of contract and differing site conditions claims brought by demolition/excavation subcontractor on a very large remediation project in Colorado. Obtained favorable judgment for client including a take-nothing judgment dismissing subcontractor's $11 million differing site conditions claim. Retried case for two weeks following remand from Colorado Court of Appeals after which the trial court issued a take nothing judgment for client rejecting all of the subcontractor's claims.
  • Represented Construction Manager in 9 day trial with excavation subcontractor and numerous lower tier subcontractors and suppliers. Obtained summary judgments dismissing trust fund and payment bond claims in advance of trial, and obtained affirmative verdict and judgment on contract claims.
  • Represented owner in ten day federal court trial against general contractor's claims in excess of $40 million relating to construction of petrochemical facility. Disputes involved claims for breach of contract and fraud. Resolved the matter during appeal process.
  • Represented contractor in drafting and negotiating a $53 million contract for gas processing plant. Has represented owners and contractors in negotiating contracts for various types of facilities (pipeline projects, wind farms, various petrochemical/aromatics related units/projects) located in the United States and abroad.
  • Routine advise clients in drafting and negotiation of all types of construction and EPC contracts.

Recognition & Leadership

  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, Construction Law; Litigation - Construction, 2014-2024
  • Listed, Super Lawyers magazine, Texas Super Lawyers, 2013-2023
    •  Listed, "Top 100 Attorneys in Houston," 2021-2022
  • Listed, The Legal 500 United States, 2011-2012 and 2017-2018
  • Rated, AV Preeminent® 5.0 out of 5.0

°AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies.

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Houston Bar Association
  • Member, State Bar of Texas, Construction Section


  • J.D., with honors, The University of Texas School of Law, 1990
    • Member, Texas Law Review
    • Order of the Coif
  • B.B.A., Texas A&M University, 1985
  • Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas