The Team

Founding partners Kelly Curnutt and Doug Hafer brought experience from large international firms, as well as small trial boutique firms when they formed Curnutt & Hafer, L.L.P. The firm’s passion, expertise, and determination has earned them Super Lawyer designations and a prestigious AV rating, signifying the pinnacle of skill and integrity under the Martindale-Hubbell Rating System.

Our Mission

Our firm's mission is to treat every client's problem as if it were our own, and we focus on achieving the best bottom line results possible. To reach this goal, we have assembled a team of attorneys made up of accomplished business professionals, compassionate advocates, and experienced litigators. Our attorneys are committed to applying their skills and experience to resolving your problems through creative legal solutions. It is our goal that all of our clients will give us their highest personal recommendation.

Awards & Accreditations

 

Kelly J. Curnutt

Partner

Overview:

Throughout his career, Kelly Curnutt has successfully tried a wide array of cases in state and federal courts, both in Texas and other states, including complex business disputes, oil and gas cases, and injury and death claims. Additionally, Mr. Curnutt has taken and defended hundreds of depositions, briefed and argued over one hundred motions in state and federal courts, and has argued a number of cases in the appellate courts.

For seven consecutive years, Mr. Curnutt has been selected for inclusion in “Texas Super Lawyers,” a listing of top attorneys in Texas compiled through independent polling and research and is published by Texas Monthly. This distinction is held by no more than five percent of Texas lawyers each year. Mr. Curnutt is AV rated by Martindale Hubble, the highest skill and ethics and integrity ranking available. He is also Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is a Past President of the Arlington Bar Association.

Areas of Practice:

Business Litigation
Oil & Gas Litigation
Insurance Litigation
Personal Injury
Wrongful Death


Background

Kelly Curnutt obtained his law degree in 1993 from the Southern Methodist University School of Law where he was the Managing Staff Editor of the SMU Law Review Association, Oral Argument Champion and Best Brief Finalist in the all-school moot court competition, Outstanding Advocate in the mock trial competition, recipient of an American Indian Graduate Center Scholarship, member of the Order of the Barristers, and Province Winner in the International Graduate of the Year Award for the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. Mr. Curnutt received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 1989 from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he served as president of his fraternity Phi Delta Theta, was selected to the Honor Roll and National Dean's List from 1985 to 1989, and served as a Younglife School Director. Mr. Curnutt is a former Certified Public Accountant, having previously worked for the KPMG Peat Marwick public accounting firm prior to entering law school.

Personal

Mr. Curnutt resides in Arlington, Texas with his wife, Justice of the Peace Mary Tom Cravens Curnutt. They are blessed with three sons and a number of “bonus boys” loved over the years. Both Mr. Curnutt and his wife grew up in Arlington where they collectively enjoy an expansive network of business and personal acquaintances. Mr. Curnutt is an avid outdoorsman, enjoying camping, fishing, hunting and being outdoors with his family and friends. He is also active in community affairs through the Arlington Sunrise Rotary Club, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Arlington ISD Education Foundation, Phi Delta Theta Alumni Club, and KIDS HOPE.

Mr. Curnutt is an active member of Fielder Church, and serves with his wife in an apartment church through Mission Arlington. On Monday nights Mr. Curnutt serves as Teaching Leader of the Arlington Men’s Class of Bible Study Fellowship. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of his favorite Bible verses:


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.


Honors and Awards

AV "Preeminent" (5.0 out of 5) Peer Review Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, current

"Texas Super Lawyer," Texas Monthly, 2011-2021

"Top Lawyer," Fort Worth, Texas Magazine, 2011-2021

Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Life Member

Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, 2008

College of the State Bar of Texas, 1999

Fraternities

Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Phi

Education

Southern Methodist University School of Law, Dallas, Texas
Juris Doctor, 1993
Honors: Champion, Oral Argument, Jackson & Walker Moot Court Competition
Honors: Finalist, Best Brief, Jackson & Walker Moot Court Competition
Honors: Outstanding Advocate, Vial Hamilton Mock Trial Barristers Association
Honors: Order of the Barristers
Honors: Province Winner, Phi Delta Phi International Graduate of the Year Award
Honors: Recipient, American Indian Graduate Center Scholarship
Law Review: Southern Methodist University Law Review Association, Managing Staff Editor, 1992-1993

Certifications/Specialties

Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 1998

Bar Admissions

State Bar of Texas, 1993
U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, 2009
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas, 1997
U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, 1997
U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, 1997
U.S. District Court Western District of Texas, 1997
U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, 1997

Published Works

"Surface-Owner Conflicts: When and How to Obtain a TRO" (co-author with Daniel B. Mathis), American Association of Professional Landmen, Southwest Land Institute Publication, April 14, 2011

"Surface-Owner Conflicts: When and How to Obtain a TRO" (co-author with Daniel B. Mathis), Oklahoma City Association of Petroleum Landmen, March 1, 2010

Classes/Seminars Taught

"A Practical Guide to Operator/Surface-Owner Disputes and the Current State of the Accommodation Doctrine," Southwest Land Institute, hosted by the American Association of Professional Landmen, Dallas, Texas, April 14, 2011

"A Practical Guide to Operator/Surface-Owner Disputes," Energy Symposium, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, March 4, 2011

"A Practical Guide to Operator/Surface-Owner Disputes," Fort Worth Association of Professional Landmen (FWAPL), October 14, 2010

Professional Associations and Memberships

State Bar of Texas
Member

Arlington Bar Association
Past President

Tarrant County Bar Association
Member

Tarrant County Bar Association, Energy Law Section
Member

Arlington Chamber of Commerce
Interim President and CEO, 2015-2016

Arlington Sunrise Rotary Club
Past President

Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas, 2000-2014
Board of Directors, and Member

Young Men for Arlington, 1995-2000
Past President

Phi Delta Theta Arlington Alumni Club
Past President

 

Douglas R. Hafer

Partner

Overview:

Throughout his career, Douglas Hafer has successfully tried cases in state and federal courts ranging from personal injury to oil and gas to complex business and employment disputes. Additionally, Mr. Hafer has taken and defended hundreds of depositions, and briefed and argued over one hundred motions in state and federal courts. Mr. Hafer also has significant appellate court experience. He has successfully represented appellants and appellees in cases argued before the federal and state appellate courts.

For nine years, Mr. Hafer has been selected for inclusion in “Texas Super Lawyers,” a listing of top attorneys in Texas compiled through independent polling and research and is published by Texas Monthly. This distinction is held by no more than five percent of Texas lawyers for the year. Mr. Hafer is AV rated by Martindale Hubble, the highest skill and ethics and integrity ranking available. Mr. Hafer is also Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Areas of Practice:

Business Litigation
Estate and Trust Litigation
Oil and Gas Litigation
Insurance Litigation
Personal Injury
Wrongful Death

Representative Cases

Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hofer Builders, Inc., No. 03-17-00741-CV, 2019 WL 2847436 (Tex. Ct. App. Austin, July 3, 2019).

Frymire Eng'g Co. v. Jomar Int'l, Ltd., 259 S.W.3d 140 (Tex. 2008)

Padilla v. Flying J, Inc. , 119 S.W. 3d 911 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2003)

Tex. Ass'n Govt. Risk Mgmt. Pool v. Matagorda County, 52 S.W.3d 128 (Tex. 2000)

Webb v. B.C. Rogers, 174 F.3d 697 (5th Cir. 1998)

Professional Associations and Memberships

State Bar of Texas, Member

American Bar Association. Member

Tarrant County Bar Association, Member

Tarrant County Bar Association, Energy Law Section
Chair, 2012-2013; Vice Chair, 2011-2012; Secretary, 2010-2011

Arlington Bar Association
President, 2009; President-Elect, 2008; Secretary/Treasurer, 2007

Dallas Bar Association, Member

The College of Master Advocates and Barristers, Senior Counsel

Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Member

Certifications/Specialties

Board Certified In Personal Injury Trial Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 2004

Education

Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law, Dallas, Texas
Juris Doctor, 1993
Honors: Cum Laude
Honors: Southern Methodist University Law Review, Leading Articles Editor, 1991-1993

Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
Bachelor of Science, Business, 1989

Bar Admissions

U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, 1997
U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, 1997
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas, 1997
U.S. District Court Western District of Texas, 1997
U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, 1997
Texas, 1993

Published Works

"Lost Future Royalties: Lessons from Recent Decisions" (co-author with Logan W. Simmons), 31 Franchise L.J. 150, 2012

"Mineral Royalty Mispayments: The Payor's Rights, Obligations, and Risks in Royalty Mispayment Scenarios, Including the Pitfalls and Prerogative of Self-Help Recoupment" (co-author with Daniel B. Mathis), 18 TEX. WESLEYAN L. REV. 85, 2011

"Mineral Royalty Mispayments: The Payor's Right of Recoupment" (co-author with Daniel B. Mathis), Headnotes, Dallas Bar Association, August, 2011

"Surface-Owner Conflicts: When and How to Obtain a TRO" (co-author), American Association of Professional Landmen, Southwest Land Institute Publication, April 14, 2011

"A Practical Guide to Operator/Surface-Owner Disputes and The Current State of the Accommodation Doctrine," (co-author with Daniel B. Mathis and Logan W. Simmons), 17 TEX. WESLEYAN L. REV. 47, 2010

Seminars Taught

"Mineral Royalty Mispayments: A Discussion of Common Mispayment Scenarios and Applicable Law," Strafford Webinar, November 21, 2013

"Failure-To-Develop Litigation: An Overview of Failure-To-Develop Litigation, Including Protection of Geophysical Data, and Lessons Learned in Trial," Energy Symposium, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, March, 2012

"Mineral Royalty Mispayments: The Payor's Rights, Obligations, and Risks in Royalty Mispayment Scenarios, Including the Pitfalls and Prerogative of Self-Help Recoupment," Energy Symposium, Texas Wesleyan School of Law, March 3, 2011

"A Practical Guide to Operator/Surface-Owner Disputes and The Current State of the Accommodation Doctrin," Energy Symposium, Wesleyan School of Law, March 16, 2010

Honors and Awards

"Texas Super Lawyer," Texas Monthly, 2006, 2008-2014, 2020, 2021
"Top Lawyer," Fort Worth, Texas Magazine, 2011-2020

AV "Preeminent" (5.0 out of 5) Peer Review Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, current

State Bar College, 2000-2001

 

Cash Barker

Associate

Overview:

Cash H. Barker is an associate in the firm’s Arlington office, where he focuses his practice on corporate, real estate, and probate law. Mr. Barker maintains a dynamic hybrid practice that includes litigating, counseling, and advising on corporate transactions. Mr. Barker litigates on behalf of clients throughout the State of Texas and his litigation practice involves a broad array of commercial, real estate, and probate matters. He has experience drafting position statements, pleadings, discovery requests and responses, and dispositive motions on a wide array of legal topics. Since beginning his legal career in 2019, Mr. Barker has successfully recovered on numerous delinquent accounts on behalf of clients in various industries. In addition to his litigation practice, Mr. Barker regularly counsels and assists individuals and businesses on a range of corporate matters and drafts and reviews entity formation documents, company agreements, various transactional documents, and employment-related agreements and policies.

Areas of Practice:

• Corporate
• Construction
• Oil and Gas
• Real Estate
• Probate
• Agricultural


Education

Texas A&M School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas
Juris Doctor, 2019
Honors: Cum Laude
Honors: Ann S. & Henry B. Paup Scholarship Recipient
Law Journal: Symposia Editor, Texas A&M Law Review, 2017-2019

Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Major: Agricultural & Applied Economics
Honors: Cum Laude
Honors: Gamma Sigma Delta National Honor Society

Bar Admissions

Texas, 2019
U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, 2021

Professional Associations and Memberships

Tarrant County Bar Association
Tarrant County Bar Association, Construction Law Section
Texas Young Lawyers Association
Arlington Bar Association

Publications

Issue Brief: Conduit Theory Under the Clean Water Act, January 8, 2019
National Agricultural Law Center Issue Brief: The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule and Current Events, November 1, 2018
National Agricultural Law Center, Plant Based “Milk” Labeling, October 17, 2018

 

Vicki Minter Hafer

Family Law Attorney

Overview:

Vicki Hafer concentrates her practice in family law, a very important and personal branch of practice requiring compassionate advocacy. Ms. Hafer and her team are well practiced at the nuances of these cases. They have the skillset to help people find the right paths for resolving divorce and custody disputes and begin the rebuilding process.

Ms. Hafer and her team handle divorce, custody disputes, modifications, paternity suits, grandparent access cases, child-support disputes, enforcement suits, protective order cases and adoptions.

Area of Practice:

Family Law

Education

Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law, Dallas, Texas
Juris Doctor, 1994
Honors: Cum Laude
Honors: Hatton W. Summers Scholar
Honors: Recipient, American Jurisprudence Award in Torts
Honors: Barristers
SMU Law Tutor
Southern Methodist University Law Review

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Bachelor of Arts, 1991
Major: Journalism
Honors: Magna Cum Laude

Bar Admissions

Texas, 1994
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, 1994

Professional Associations and Community Involvement

State Bar of Texas, Family Law Section
Arlington Bar Association
Tarrant County Bar Association
Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association
Wise, Jack, Montague Women’s Bar Association
Levitt Pavilion, Arlington Board of Directors, Committee Chair – Board Governance & Development
Junior League of Arlington, Sustainer, numerous prior leadership positions
Arlington Chamber of Commerce – Women’s Alliance
Women Inspiring Philanthropy
St. Cecilia Singers, St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church

Honors and Awards

“Top Lawyer” Fort Worth, Texas Magazine
Texas Super Lawyers – Rising Star in Family Law
Texas Bar Foundation Fellow
Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas

 

David G. Petter

Of Counsel

Overview:

David Petter has practiced law in Texas since 1992, serving a broad scope of civil needs. He has a predominant focus in the areas of probate, estate planning, and business transactions. For many years, Mr. Petter worked with Arlington Attorney Jerry Hoodenpyle to serve the legal needs of innumerable commercial entities and private individuals, governmental units, non-profit organizations and churches. Following Mr. Hoodenpyle’s retirement in 2013, Mr. Petter extended the tradition of offering professional and highly ethical legal representation as a solo practitioner and then in joining the law firm of Curnutt & Hafer, L.L.P. in 2021.

“Seeking to Serve for Christ and His Kingdom” – Mr. Petter adopted this personal motto many years ago while a student at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. It is at the core of what motivates his service as a lawyer. Mr. Petter is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law in Austin and holds a Masters of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He is a deacon and active Children’s Bible Study teacher at Fielder Church. Additionally, Mr. Petter enjoys umpiring little league baseball and serving community needs.

Areas of Practice:

Business Transactions, Contracts & Corporate Law

o Stock purchase and asset purchase agreements
o Financing and security agreements
o Contracts of all types
o Leases
o Corporate documents for your full business life cycle

Estate Planning, Probate, Wills & Trusts

o Last Wills
o Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney
o Directives to Physicians
o Trusts
o Probate filings

Education

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX
Masters of Divinity Degree with Biblical Languages, Dec. 1998
Dean’s Academic Honor List, School of Theology

The University of Texas School of Law, Austin, TX
Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree, May 1992

Wheaton College, Wheaton, ILL
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, May 1989

 

Steve Kotara

Of Counsel

Overview:

Throughout his thirty-plus years’ career, Steve Kotara has successfully handled and tried a wide variety of cases in both federal and state courts, including complex business disputes, professional malpractice claims, and injury and death claims. Mr. Kotara began his legal career at one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in Dallas, and he worked for several years in Fort Worth at one of the top malpractice firms in Texas. Mr. Kotara has taken and defended hundreds of depositions and has briefed and argued over one hundred motions in state and federal court. Mr. Kotara also has significant appellate experience. In addition to handling appeals in state and federal appellate courts, Mr. Kotara was an appellate court staff attorney for over fifteen years in three Texas appellate courts.

Areas of Practice:

Business Litigation
Probate Litigation
Insurance Litigation
Personal Injury
Wrongful Death
Product Liability
Medical Malpractice
Legal Malpractice
Civil Appeals

Background

Mr. Kotara obtained his law degree in 1987 from Texas Tech University School of Law, where he graduated with honors. During law school, Mr. Kotara was a member of the Texas Tech Law Review and served as its Managing Editor in 1986-87. Mr. Kotara also participated in moot court and mock trial and received American Jurisprudence awards in Evidence and Property.

Before law school, Mr. Kotara graduated with honors from the University of Dallas with a B.A. in Politics (Political Philosophy). During college, Mr. Kotara was active in student government and intramural athletics.

Personal

Mr. Kotara has resided in Fort Worth, Texas for over two decades with his wife, a Fort Worth native, and their son, who attends Texas A & M University. A native of Pampa, Texas, Mr. Kotara has resided in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex since 1987. Now an avid golfer, Mr. Kotara previously coached youth baseball, basketball, and flag football with the Fort Worth YMCA, and he was a volunteer leader in Pack 97 of the Longhorn Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Fort Worth.

Mr. Kotara is an active member of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Fort Worth, and he was a volunteer leader of his son’s youth group. Throughout the 1990’s, Mr. Kotara was active in the University of Dallas Alumni Association Board of Directors, including serving as its president for two years.

Education

Texas Tech University School of Law, Lubbock, Texas
Juris Doctor, 1987
Honors: Cum Laude
Honors: Texas Tech Law Review, Managing Editor, 1986-87
Honors: American Jurisprudence awards in Evidence and Property

University of Dallas, Irving, Texas
Bachelor of Arts, 1984
Honors: Cum Laude

Litigation Percentage

100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

Texas, 1987

U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, 1987

Published Works

BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (7th ed. 1999) (Assistant Editor)

A HANDBOOK OF BASIC LAW TERMS (West 1999) (Assistant Editor)

“Recent Changes in Texas Venue Law and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Proposed Changes to the Texas Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure,” University of Dallas Alumni CLE (Oct. 1995)

Note, Prejudgment Interest Available on Accrued Damages in Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Survival Actions: Cavnar v. Quality Control Parking, Inc., 696 S.W.2d 549 (Tex. 1985), 17 TEX. TECH L. REV. 293 (1986)

Mr. Kotara has also prepared and presented numerous local CLE articles on appellate matters and the Bill of Rights.

Representative Cases

Albo v. Bahn, 2018 WL 2204295 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] May 15, 2018, no pet.)

Wakefield v. Pinnacle Anesthesia Consultants, P.A., 2018 WL 1734984 (Tex. App.—Texarkana Apr. 2, 2018, pet. denied)

Sees v. Fagen, 2002 WL 460233 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 22, 2002)

Sanijet Corp. v. Jacuzzi Inc., 2002 WL 1398546 (N.D. Tex. Feb. 14, 2002)

Seibu Corp. v. KPMG, LLP, 2001 WL 1167317 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 2, 2001)

Fagan v. Gnade, 61 S.W.3d 76 (Tex. App.—Waco 2001, no pet.)

Cunningham v. American Airlines, Inc., 1993 WL 307391 (Tex. App.—Dallas Aug. 5, 1993, writ denied)

Reed v. Yarbrough, 917 F.2d 562 (5th Cir. 1990 Table), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1123 (1991)

 

Pat Wadlington, Jr.

Of Counsel

Bar Admissions:

Admitted to practice before all Texas State Courts

Admitted to practice before all Northern and Southeastern Federal District Courts of Texas

Areas of Practice:

Commercial Disputes and Litigation
Fiduciary and Trust Litigation
Probate Administration and Litigation
Business Ownership Disputes and Litigation
Serious Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
Mediation Services

Education

South Texas College of Law, Houston, Texas
Juris Doctor, 1994
Honors: Cum Laude
Honors: Named Outstanding Male Graduate of 1994
Honors: Order of the Lytae
Honors: Editorial Board member, South Texas Law Review, 1993-94

Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas
Bachelor of Science, 1988

Bar Admissions

State Bar of Texas 1992
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas

Professional Associations and Memberships

Texas Bar Association
Member

Dallas Bar Association
Member

 

Yvette M. Harper

Paralegal

Areas of Expertise

Yvette Harper provides paralegal and administrative support to partner Doug Hafer and attorney Vicki Hafer. She also manages and oversees numerous information technology and administrative functions for the firm.

Education and Certifications

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Bachelor of Science, 1995
Major: Political Science

Southeastern Paralegal Institute (Brightwood College)
Paralegal Certificate, 1996
With Honors

 

Deanne Schmidt

Case Manager

Areas of Expertise

Deanne Schmidt provides paralegal and administrative support to partner Kelly Curnutt. She also provides oversight and service to those clients of Curnutt & Hafer who are involved in personal injury cases.

Professional Associations and Education

State Bar of Texas, Paralegal Division

Arlington Bar Association
Executive Secretary, 2006-2012

McMurry University, Angelo State University and
The University of Texas at Arlington
Various coursework

 

Gina Farris

Paralegal - Decatur Office

Areas of Expertise

Gina Farris provides paralegal and administrative support to Pat Wadlington in our Decatur office. She also manages and oversees numerous administrative functions.

Education and Community Involvement

Institute of Paralegal Studies

SMU Mother and Dad's Club
LifePoint Methodist Church - Haslet, Church Leadership Council

 

Christian Jones

Paralegal

Areas of Expertise

Christian Jones provides paralegal and administrative support to Steve Kotara.

Education

Texas Wesleyan University,
Bachelors of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies

 

Regina Pingel

Accounting and Office Manager

Area of expertise

Regina Pingel provides managerial support for financial, HR, and administrative functions.

Education

Sam Houston State University
BBA Accounting

 

Heather Scalf

Legal Secretary

Areas of Expertise

Heather supports David Petter with Estate Planning, Probate, Wills and Trusts.

Education

University of North Texas, Denton
Masters Degree in Library and Information Science

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