LITIGATION and DISPUTE
Disputes involving oil and gas matters present unique challenges in the Appalachian Basin. As a consequence of the rapid development of the shale formations, federal and state courts are being asked to address unresolved issues and reconsider previously well-settled (and perhaps outdated) decisions at an unprecedented rate. We understand Pennsylvania and West Virginia oil and gas law and are experienced in litigating oil and gas and natural resource matters in the courts of each state.
Our attorneys represent a broad range of clients, from publicly traded natural gas companies to individual property owners in matters involving oil and gas and natural resources in federal and state trial and appellate courts, and in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. We also represent clients before zoning hearing boards and township supervisors in connection with midstream pipeline activities. We have also served as arbitrators, expert witnesses and litigation consultants. We work closely with each client to ensure that our representation is consistent with his/her/its commercial objectives.
Recent representative matters:
■ Successful representation of publicly traded natural gas producer in proceedings concerning oil and gas lease with a value to client in excess of $50 million.
■ Obtained federal court jury verdict in favor of publicly traded natural gas producer on claims brought by landowner/lessor who alleged that producer had tortiously interfered with his employment; and secured judgment in favor of producer following bench trial on claims by the landowner/lessor under a “dual purpose” oil and gas lease that the production rights under the lease had terminated because the lease had only been used for storage. Mason v. Range Resources—Appalachia, LLC, 120 F.Supp.3d 425 (W.D. Pa. 2015).
■ Obtained summary judgment in favor of publicly traded natural gas producer on claims by the lessors under three oil and gas leases that their leases terminated at the end of their primary terms where the producer did not exercise it options to extend the leases while they were in their primary terms and lessors.
■ Obtained summary judgment in favor of publicly traded natural gas producer on claims by oil and gas lessors that the lessees’ assignments of their leases were improper under the terms of the oil and gas leases. Stricklin v. Fortuna Energy, Inc., Civil Action No. 5:12CV8, 2014 WL 2619587 (N.D. W.Va. Jun. 12, 2014).
■ Successfully represented publicly traded natural gas producer in litigation involving 9 separate cases pertaining to a total of 17 separate oil and gas leases and 1,600 acres, in which the lessors asserted numerous claims against the producer including fraud, slander of title, improper notarization, and trespass.
■ Obtained summary judgment in favor of publicly traded natural gas producer against oil and gas lessors who sought a judicial declaration that their oil and gas lease was invalid as to the shale gas. Affirmed on appeal.
■ Obtained dismissal of all claims (including claims for fraudulent inducement, improper notarization, injunction, declaratory judgment) brought by oil and gas lessors against publicly traded natural gas producer. Dwyer v. Range Resources—Appalachia, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:14CV21, 2014 WL 1648272 (N.D. W. Va. Apr. 24, 2014).
■ Obtained preliminary injunction on behalf of a privately held oil and gas company to prevent landowner/lessor from removing production-related equipment from property and declaring oil and gas lease to be invalid. Affirmed on appeal.
■ Successful representation of publicly traded natural gas producer and a former landman-employee against claims brought by landowner/lessor; all claims against former employee dismissed, with prejudice, and all claims against natural gas producer dismissed due to arbitration provision. Holmes v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:11CV123, 2012 WL 3647674 (N.D. W.Va. Aug. 23, 2012)
■ Successful representation of publicly traded natural gas producer in arbitration proceedings initiated by another producer seeking approximately $5 million in damages for claims involving alleged breaches of drilling commitments under a farmout agreement.
■ Obtained summary judgment from trial court in favor of clients/owners of 16,000 acre coal mine property as to claims raised by individual who claimed ownership of the property under an alleged settlement agreement. Affirmed on appeal.
■ Successful representation of privately held oil and gas/coal owner in proceedings brought against the estate of former business partner.
■ Successful representation of privately held coal company in litigation against major utility which prematurely terminated coal supply agreement for one of its power plants.
■ Secured dismissal of quiet title action against owner of coal mine on preliminary objections.