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Meet Our Attorneys

attorneys

Dennis Edward Johnson and Ross L. Sundeen, Members of the Firm

Dennis Edward Johnson (Member)

Dennis is native to Watford City and, except for his time at University and Law School, he has spent his entire life in McKenzie County and Watford City. Dennis has a variety of interests. He studied anthropology and archaeology at the University of North Dakota and participated in many field adventures and digs. He is known as the “local historian” for McKenzie County. Dennis is the author of the book End of the Rope – The True Story of North Dakota’s Last Lynching, which is about the lynching of a mass murderer in McKenzie County in 1931. He has been active in many local history investigations and publications, including as an editor for Called to the Prairie: Life in McKenzie County, North Dakota 1915-1916, which is the complete journals of Richard C. Jahn that document his time in McKenzie County from October, 1915, through September, 1916.

Dennis also enjoys many activities involving the outdoors that captivate his interest: Hunting big game and upland game, training dogs, horses, motorcycle riding, flying a 1941 Piper J-3 Cub airplane, sailing, fishing, ATV adventures, canoeing, and just general exploring.

After graduating from Watford City High School (1974), Dennis attended the University of North Dakota and earned a B.A. from the Honors Program with a concentration in archaeology (1976). He attended the University of North Dakota Law School from 1977 to 1980 and, after completing law school, he returned to McKenzie County, where in 1980 he founded the law firm that is today Johnson & Sundeen.

Dennis considers one of his highest honors received while practicing law to have come after successfully resolving a personal injury case for a Hidatsa Native American, when his client’s family ceremonially adopted him as a clan member and invited him to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony, where he was given the name MaDa Gah Dee Ma Gah, which means War Buffalo.

In 2016, Dennis was also bestowed with the prestigious Light of Justice award by the North Dakota Association for Justice. This award is given to those attorneys and jurists who have spent their lifetime carrying the light of justice into the world and had previously been given only eleven times since 1973.

  •  Education
    • Watford City High School, 1974
    • University of North Dakota, B.A., summa cum laude with honors, 1976
    • University of North Dakota, J.D., with distinction, 1980.
      • Order of the Coif, Senior Member
      • Moot Court
      • Recipient American Jurisprudence Award in Contracts
      • Staff Member, Student Editorial, North Dakota Law Review, 1979-1980
  • Admissions
    • North Dakota, 1980
    • U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota, 1980
    • U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, 1990
  • States Attorney, McKenzie County, North Dakota, 1982-2013
  • Past Associate Justice for Northern Plains Intertribal Court of Appeals
  • Past Prosecutor for Three Affiliated Tribes
  • Former Judge, City of New Town, North Dakota
  • Registered Abstractor, 1985-
  • Associations:
    • North Dakota Association for Justice
      • Past President
      • Current Member Board of Governors
      • State Delegate for American Association of Justice, former
    • North Dakota State Bar Association
      • Member Board of Governors, former
      • Ethics Committee, former
      • Judiciary Committee, former
      • Pattern Jury Instructions Committee, present
    • Upper Missouri Valley Bar Association
      • Past President
    • American Association for Justice
  • Awards:
    • Light of Justice Award – 2016 from the North Dakota Association of Justice
    • 2015 – Nation’s Top One Percent – National Association of Distinguished Counsel
    • 2014 – Nationally Ranked Top 10 Attorney Award – National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys
    • 2015 – selected to Top Lawyer in Global Directory of Who’s Who
    • 2015 Great Plains Super Lawyers
  • Practice Areas:
    • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
      • Serious injuries, industrial and oilfield accidents
    • Products Liability
    • Oil and Gas Law
      • Complex litigation
      • Lease review
      • Pipeline easement review
      • Surface use agreement review
      • Gravel and scoria mining agreement review
      • Contract review
      • Mediator for complex disputes
    • Business Formation, including corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLC)
    • Commercial Litigation
    • General Civil Litigation, all stages including jury trials and appellate practice
    • Appeals, state and federal courts
    • Probate
    • Estate Planning
    • Collections
  • Selected Reported Cases
    • Black Stone Minerals Co. v. Brokaw, 2017 ND 110, (oil and gas)
    • Fleck v. Missouri River Royalty Corp., 2015 ND 287, 872 N.W.2d 329 (oil and gas)
    • Tank v. Citation Oil & Gas Corp., 2014 ND 123, 848 N.W.2d 691 (oil and gas)
    • Gadeco v. Industrial Commission, 2013 ND 72, 830 N.W.2d 535 (oil and gas)
    • Gadeco v. Industrial Commission, 2012 ND 33, 812 N.W.2d 405 (oil and gas)
    • Waldock v. Amber Harvest Corporation, 2012 ND 180, 820 N.W.2d 755 (probate)
    • Brigham Oil v. Lario Oil, 2011 ND 154, 801 N.W.2d 677 (oil and gas)
    • State v. Shoup, 2011 ND 103, 799 N.W.2d 406 (criminal)
    • Wisness v. Nodak Mutual Ins. Co., 2011 ND 197, 806 N.W.2d 146 (insurance)
    • Arnegard v. Cayko, 2010 ND 83, 782 N.W.2d 54 (tax)
    • Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co. v. Lynne, 2004 ND 166, 686 N.W.2d 118 (insurance)
    • Dixon v. McKenzie Co. Grazing Association, 2004 ND 40, 675 N.W.2d 414 (grazing rights)
    • Tarnavsky v. McKenzie Co. Grazing Association, 2003 ND 117, 665 N.W.2d (grazing rights)
    • Grynberg v. Dome Petroleum Corp., 1999 ND 167, 599 N.W.2d 261 (oil and gas)
    • Heggen v. Heggen, 541 N.W.2d 463 (N.D. 1996) (domestic relations)
    • Industrial Commission v. McKenzie Co. National Bank, 518 N.W.2d 174 (N.D. 1994)
    • Heggen v. Heggen, 488 N.W.2d 627 (N.D. 1992) (domestic relations)
    • McKenzie County v. Hodel, 467 N.W.2d 701 (ND 1991) (oil and gas)
    • Acoma Oil Corporation v. Wilson, 471 N.W.2d 476 (N.D. 1991) (oil and gas)
    • State v. Moran, 474 N.W.2d 77 (N.D. 1991) (criminal)
    • Heinen v. Heinen, 452 N.W.2d 331 (N.D. 1990) (domestic relations)
    • Texaco Inc. v. Industrial Commission, 448 N.W.2d 621 (ND 1989) (oil and gas)
    • Sivertson v. McLees, 407 N.W.2d 799 (N.D. 1987) (criminal)
    • State v. Dorendorf, 359 N.W.2d 115 (N.D. 1984) (criminal)

Ross L. Sundeen (Member)

Ross, a life-long resident of North Dakota, grew up on a family farm near Lakota. After attending North Dakota State University, where he was a member of the 1985 National Championship football team, Ross attended the University of North Dakota School of Law before moving to western North Dakota with his wife to settle and raise a family. Ross is a member of the Iron Butt Association, a motorcycle riding group whose members must endure a qualifying ride and are among the world’s toughest riders. An Eagle Scout, Ross enjoys all aspects of the great outdoors, especially spending time hiking with his family.

  • Admissions
    • North Dakota State Bar, 1993
    • U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota
    • Tribal Court, Three Affiliated Tribes
  • Certified Farm Succession Planner
  • Education
    • Lakota High School
    • North Dakota State University, 1990
      • Major: Social Sciences w/ behavioral science emphasis
      • Congressional Intern for Sen. Byron L. Dorgan
    • University of North Dakota, J.D., 1993
      • Member Phi Delta Phi
      • Central Legal Research
      • Moot Court
  • Experience
    • Johnson & Sundeen Ltd. (1992 – present)
    • Dunn County State’s Attorney’s Office (1996 – present)
    • Associate Municipal Judge, City of New Town, North Dakota (former)
    • Professor of Business Law, Ft. Berthold Community College (1994 – 1998)
  •  Associations
    • American Bar Association
    • North Dakota State Bar Association
      • Young Lawyer Section Executive Committee (former)
      • Fee Arbitration Committee (former)
      • Inquiry West Committee (former)
      • Disciplinary Board (current)
      • SBAND Community Service Award
    • Upper Missouri Valley Bar Association
    • North Dakota Association of Justice
    • North Dakota State’s Attorneys Association
    • National Eagle Scout Association
    • Watford City Community Benefit Association
    • Iron Butt Association
  • Awards
    • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
    • 10 Best Family Practitioners
    • 10 Best Personal Injury Lawyers
    • Distinguished Lawyer
    • 2017 Distinguished Attorney, Martindale-Hubbell
    • Who’s Who
    • North Dakota State Bar Community Service
  • Practice Areas
    • Wills, Trusts, and Probate
    • Real Estate, including title curative, title opinions, and closings
    • Oil and Gas, including lease review, pipeline easement review, surface use agreement review, gravel and scoria mining agreements, and contract review
    • Business Formation, including corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLC)
    • Collections
    • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
Ross and Piper

Ross Sundeen and Piper, his Yellow British Labrador Retriever

Ariston E. Johnson (Associate)

Ari is native to Watford City and has varied interests. He is a motorcycle and sports car enthusiast, an accomplished amateur musician, a private pilot, and an outdoorsman. After graduating from Watford City High School, Ari attended the University of North Dakota and earned a degree in Computer Science. He then moved to the Phoenix, Arizona, area and worked there for one year, after which he decided to pursue his calling in the law. Ari graduated from the nation’s first law school, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, in 2007 and moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, to begin his legal career. After four years of practicing law in Bismarck, the Bakken oil boom gave Ari the opportunity to move home to Watford City and join Johnson & Sundeen in 2011.

  • Education
    • Watford City High School, 2000
    • University of North Dakota, B.S., summa cum laude with departmental honors, 2000
      • Major: Computer Science
      • Minor: Mathematics
      • Member of Honors Program
      • Officer of Association of Computing Machinery
    • College of William & Mary School of Law, J.D., 2007
      • Member of Federalist Society
      • Researcher for Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal
      • Recipient of Courtroom 21 Basic Technology-Augmented Litigator Certificate
  • Admissions
    • Virginia, 2007 (inactive/associate status)
    • North Dakota, 2007
    • Minnesota, 2008
    • Montana, 2009
    • United States District Court for the District of North Dakota, 2008
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2012
    • United States District Court for the District of Montana, 2015
    • Supreme Court of the United States of America, 2016
  • Legal Associations
    • Virginia State Bar
    • State Bar Association of North Dakota
    • Minnesota State Bar
    • Montana State Bar
    • Upper Missouri Valley Bar Association
    • American Association for Justice
    • North Dakota Association of Justice
  • Practice Areas
    • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
    • Products Liability
    • Oil and Gas, including litigation, lease review, pipeline easement review, surface use agreement review, gravel and scoria mining agreement review, and contract review
    • Business Formation, including corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLC)
    • Commercial Litigation
    • General Civil Litigation, all stages including jury trials and appellate practice
    • Appeals, state and federal courts
    • Probate
    • Estate Planning
    • Evictions
    • Collections
    • County and Municipal Government (current attorney for the planning and zoning commissions in both McKenzie County and Dunn County, North Dakota; former city attorney for Lincoln, North Dakota)
  • Selected Reported Cases
    • Schmidt v. Gateway Community Fellowship, 2010 ND 69, 781 N.W.2d 200 (negligence and immunity issues)
    • Reiss v. Komatsu Am. Corp., 735 F.Supp.2d 1125 (D.N.D. 2010) (products liability)
    • Brigham Oil v. Lario Oil, 2011 ND 154, 801 N.W.2d 677 (oil and gas, probate)
    • Gadeco v. Industrial Commission, 2012 ND 33, 812 N.W.2d 405 and 2013 ND 72, 830 N.W.2d 535 (oil and gas, administrative law)
    • Rickert v. Dakota Sanitation Plus, 2012 ND 37, 812 N.W.2d 413 (corporate governance)
    • Waldock v. Amber Harvest Corp., 2012 ND 180, 820 N.W.2d 755 (oil and gas, property rights)
    • Dish Network Service v. Laducer, 725 F.3d 877 (8th Cir. 2013) (tribal jurisdiction)
    • Wagner v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, 2013 ND 219, 840 N.W.2d 81 (easements)
    • Dickson v. American Bankers Insurance Company, 739 F.3d 397 (8th Cir. 2014) (flood insurance)
    • Tank v. Citation Oil & Gas Corp., 2014 ND 123, 848 N.W.2d 691 (oil and gas)
    • Norby v. Kuykendall, 2015 ND 232, 869 N.W.2d 405 (riparian rights)
    • Kronberg v. Oasis Petroleum North America, 831 F.3d 1043 (8th Cir. 2016) (wrongful death)
    • Fleck v. Missouri River Royalty Corporation, 2015 ND 287, 872 N.W.2d 329 (oil and gas)
    • State v. Francis, 2016 ND 154, 882 N.W.2d 270 and Francis v. North Dakota, 137 S.Ct. 579, 196 L.Ed.2d 447 (2016) (election law and freedom of speech)
    • Environmental Driven Solutions v. Dunn County, 2017 ND 45, 890 N.W.2d 841 (county zoning jurisdiction)
    • Statoil Oil & Gas LP v. 1280 Royalties LLC, 2017 ND 148, — N.W.2d — (federal and state court jurisdiction)
  • Other Activities
    • Member of Watford City First Lutheran Church Council, 2014-2018 (Council President, 2015-2018)
    • Road Trip Band of Bismarck, lead guitarist, 2008-2011
    • Boy Scouts of America, former youth member and current merit badge counselor
    • Private Pilot Certificate
    • Porsche Club of America High Performance Driver Education
    • American Sailing Association Certificate in Basic Keelboat Sailing
Ari and Yeva

Ariston Johnson and Yeva, his Samoyed

Aaron J. Weber (Associate)

Aaron also worked as a wildland firefighter for four summers while in college. He received various certifications and was on one of the largest fires in New Mexico state history, the Las Conchas Fire. He recently joined the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department, and is pursuing certification as a structural firefighter.  Aaron is a certified flight instructor and commercial pilot and has a passion for flying.

  • Education
    • Watford City High School, 2008
    • University of North Dakota, B.S., summa cum laude, 2012
      • Major: Unmanned Aircraft Systems
      • Received Certified Flight Instructor Certificate and Commercial Pilot Certificate
    • University of North Dakota, J.D., with distinction, 2015
      • Order of the Coif
      • Academic Success TA
      • Moot Court
      • Criminal Law Association
      • William J. Holland Foundation Law Scholarship – highest grade in Contract Law
      • Thormodsgard Law School Award – highest grade in Administrative Law
    • Admissions
      • North Dakota, 2015
    • Associations
      • North Dakota State Bar Association
      • North Dakota Association of Justice
      • Alexander Volunteer Fire Department
    • Practice Areas
      • Personal injury and Wrongful Death
      • Oil and Gas
      • Business Formation, including corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLC)
      • Commercial Litigation
      • Probate
      • Estate Planning
      • Criminal Law
      • Evictions
      • Collections
    • Selected Reported Cases
      • Black Stone Minerals Co. v. Brokaw, 2017 ND 110, — N.W.2d — (mineral rights)
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Partner: Dennis Johnson

Dennis has been practicing law, and specializing in oil & gas litigation, in Watford City since 1980.

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Partner: Ross Sundeen

In addition to practicing law with Johnson & Sundeen, Ross is the States Attorney for Dunn County.

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Associate: Ariston Johnson

Ariston joined JSLO in 2011 and has an excellent track record arguing appellate cases before the North Dakota Supreme Court.

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Associate: Aaron J. Weber

Aaron also worked as a wildland firefighter for four summers while in college. He received various certifications and was on one of the largest fires in New Mexico state history, the Las Conchas Fire.

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