Colby J. Byrd

Associate, Industry Group Leader

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  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Honors & Involvement
Bio overview

Colby Byrd is a trial lawyer whose practice focuses on agriculture, business, commercial, and real estate litigation in state and federal courts, arbitrations, and administrative proceedings. He represents a wide variety of clients, including individuals, landowners, local and family-owned businesses, energy companies, real estate developers, and financial institutions. A member of the firm’s Condemnation, Eminent Domain, and Landowner Rights team, Colby has a proven track record of protecting the rights of landowners and maximizing the “just compensation” due when their property is taken by a governmental entity or public utility for a public use.

An Oklahoma native, Colby received his bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from Oklahoma State University and serves as co-chair of the firm’s Agriculture & Equine Industry Group. He dedicates a significant portion of his practice to the representation of agricultural producers, businesses, and interest groups in a variety of matters affecting the industry. His work in this area includes representing farmers and ranchers in disputes with private crop insurance providers and the various sub-agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, such as the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and Rural Development.

In addition to his active litigation practice, Colby serves on the firm’s recruiting committee.

Colby began his legal career with McAfee & Taft after graduating with highest honors from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. While in law school, he served as Note and Comment Editor of the Oklahoma Law Review, was crowned national champion of the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy competition, and was inducted into the Order of the Coif and Order of Barristers. He received numerous honors while in law school, including the Comfort Scholarship, three American Jurisprudence Awards, and the Judge Wayne Alley Advocacy Award. 

In his spare time, Colby enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing, and cheering on the Pokes with his beagle, Molly.

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Experience, Honors, & Awards

Condemnation, Eminent Domain, and Landowner Rights:

  • Obtained jury verdict and judgment of nearly $1.2 million on behalf of landowners who sought just compensation from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) in a condemnation case involving the partial taking of a 54.51-acre tract of land for the construction of the Kickapoo Turnpike. The jury verdict exceeded the court-appointed commissioners’ award by over 250% and OTA’s appraised value by over 500%. The court also awarded the landowners more than $200,000 in attorneys’ fees, appraisal fees, and costs.
  • Negotiated a favorable settlement for a commercial real estate developer whose property was taken by the City of Oklahoma City for the construction of Scissortail Park as part of the Metropolitan Area Projects Plan 3 (MAPS 3). The settlement resulted in the developer’s acquisition of a valuable commercial development property located across the street from Scissortail Park.
  • Negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of landowner whose billboard easement was taken by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) for ODOT’s reconstruction of the I-235/US-77 and I-44 interchange. The settlement allowed for the beneficial relocation of the landowner’s billboard easement. 
  • Successfully represented a national energy company in an ad valorem taxation dispute with county assessors for several rural counties in western Oklahoma. The county assessors had overvalued the company’s personal property by more than 2,000%. After establishing errors in the county assessors’ valuation methodology, negotiated a favorable settlement that saved the company more than $3 million in ad valorem taxes.

Federal Crop Insurance Disputes:

  • Obtained a $422,223 arbitration award on behalf of a Nevada rancher whose crop insurance provider denied its loss claim under the rancher’s Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) Rainfall Index crop insurance policy, which insured the rancher’s grassland against drought.
  • Successfully defended a group of Indiana farmers in an arbitration proceeding in which the farmers’ private insurer sought to retroactively recover more than $2 million in indemnity payments the insurer claimed had been improperly paid to the farmers over a nine-year period. After concluding that the farmers held an insurable interest in the insured crops, the arbitrator held that the farmers were entitled to retain 100% of the indemnity payments the insurer was seeking to recover.

Federal Farm Program Disputes:

  • Successfully represented Alabama farming partnership in its dispute with Risk Management Agency regarding the Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) policy the partnership purchased from a private crop insurance provider. After an in-person hearing in Huntsville, Alabama, before the USDA National Appeals Division (NAD), an administrative judge overturned RMA’s adverse determination. As a result, the partnership received an additional indemnity payment from its insurer in an amount in excess of $450,000.
  • Successfully represented Texas farmers in their dispute with Farm Service Agency regarding payments due to the farmers under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). After receiving an unfavorable decision from an administrative judge and appealing that decision to the director of NAD, received a favorable determination that FSA’s adverse determination was barred by the doctrine of res judicata from assigning production and reducing producers NAP payments. As a result, the farmers received more than $200,000 in additional NAP payments from FSA. The farmers also recovered more than $30,000 in in attorneys’ fees and costs from FSA under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
  • Successfully represented agricultural lender in its dispute with Farm Service Agency regarding FSA’s denial of lender’s loss claim under FSA’s Guaranteed Farm Loan Program. After an in-person hearing, the NAD administrative judge determined that FSA’s denial of lender’s loss claim was erroneous because FSA had failed to show any loan servicing deficiencies by lender that materially contributed to the final loss claimed by lender. Resulted in FSA paying lender more than $600,000 loss claim.

Professional Organizations and Memberships

  • Oklahoma Bar Association

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Attorney Articles

Articles

Black baldy calf standing in front of herd
Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Program

Vindicating the Effective Vindication Exception: Protecting Federal Statutory Rights in the Employment Context

Oklahoma Law Review |
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Admissions

  • Oklahoma, 2018
  • U.S. District Courts for the Western and Northern Districts of Oklahoma
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Indiana
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Education

  • J.D., with highest honors, University of Oklahoma, 2018
    • Order of the Coif; Order of the Barristers; Note & Comment Editor, Oklahoma Law Review; Comfort Scholar; American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Team; Phi Delta Phi; Board of Advocates; 3 American Jurisprudence Awards
  • B.S. (Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources – Agribusiness), Oklahoma State University, 2015
    • National Merit Scholar
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Media

McAfee & Taft 2019 Firm Announcement

2019 Firm Announcement

January 8, 2019
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