Relying on a 2018 decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, a Pennsylvania district court reaffirmed that Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claims against a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-regulated pipeline must be made initially to FERC. Adorers of the Blood of Christ v. Transco. Gas Pipe Line Co. Continue Reading Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims against FERC-regulated pipeline must be presented initially to FERC, regardless of damages sought
In the Tennant v. Range Res. Appalachia decision issued on Sept. 21, 2021, Judge Hardy of the Western District of Pennsylvania determined that unless an oil and gas lease expressly shifted the burden to the defendant lessee, the plaintiff lessors bore the burden of proof on their claim of underpaid royalties. Continue Reading Plaintiff lessors bear burden of proof in royalty breach claim
In the camp of be careful how you plead and intend to prove a claim, those asserting an Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA) claim should pay careful attention to their pleading so as not to waive the attorney-client or attorney work product privileges. As the plaintiffs in Riccardi v. Jackson found out, waiver is a real possibility. Continue Reading Ohio Dormant Mineral Act claim may waive attorney-client privilege
Earlier this year, Ohio’s Court of Appeals for the Seventh District weighed in on the question of whether “other minerals” in a deed included oil and gas. The answer is, essentially, it depends.
In a June 4, 2021, decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals determined that the defense of “stranger to the deed” did not apply to invalidate rights of first refusal contained in deeds in West Virginia.
Giving the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Kilmer decision broad construction, Judge William Stickman of the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted the lessees’ motion to dismiss and issued a decision affirming that royalty language containing the phrase “at the wellhead” permits the lessee to use the net-back method and deduct post-production expenses. Rejecting the lessor’s argument that Kilmer should be limited to cases involving Pennsylvania’s Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act, the court concluded that “Kilmer cannot be read so narrowly as to ignore the fact that it interpreted ‘at the wellhead’ language in leases as providing for the use of the net-back method.”
In a six-to-one decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and held that a decision finding an oil and gas lease to be abandoned pursuant to the equitable doctrine of abandonment was improper where the lease provided remedies for the allegedly-wrongful conduct of the lessee.
Recently, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania relied on the statute of limitations to dismiss claims related to allegedly improper transactions involving real estate. Although the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense, it can be asserted in a motion to dismiss if the defense clearly appears on the face of the complaint and the complaint demonstrates that the claims were filed beyond the applicable time period. Continue Reading Court holds recording of deeds starts statute of limitations running
In a decision issued March 24, 2021, all seven of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court justices agreed (in a split decision) that Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) can be enforced only against sellers. In so concluding, the six-justice majority then determined that oil and gas companies are not “sellers” under the UTPCPL when they acquire oil and gas leases from property owners. Continue Reading Pennsylvania’s UTPCPL does not apply to acquiring oil and gas leases from property owner
Winter Storm Uri left millions in Texas without electricity and water in mid-February 2021, opening up threats of mass litigation. Texans seek to hold the state’s primary grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and electricity retailers liable. Among the litigation is a $100 million suit brought by family members of an 11-year-old boy and 95-year-old man who both froze to death during the storm. Additionally, a class action suit against ERCOT alleging gross negligence has been filed in Harris County, Texas. More litigation is likely forthcoming as experts predict an avalanche of insurance claims. But should potential Texan defendants be shaking in their cowboy boots? Generally, no, as the current state of the law shows potential defendants may be protected from mass litigation.