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Showing 7 posts in Royalties.

In a split 3-2 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the rule of capture applies to gas wells completed using hydraulic fracturing, though the Court’s holding was limited by the undeveloped factual record in the case. See Briggs v. Southwestern Energy Production Co., No. 63 MAP 2018 (Pa. Jan. 22, 2020). With the Court’s decision, Pennsylvania joins Texas and other states that have applied the rule of capture to hydraulic fracturing. The narrow scope of the Court’s holding, however, makes it almost certain that neighboring landowners will continue to assert trespass and conversion claims against developers in Pennsylvania engaging in hydraulic fracturing until the law is further developed. Read More »

Two recent decisions from two different states, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, suggest that courts are becoming increasingly skeptical of landowners seeking to capitalize on oil and gas companies utilizing horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to access resources under the property of the landowners. Read More »

In Kerns v. Chesapeake Exploration, LLC, No. 18-3636 (6th Cir. Feb. 4, 2019), released on Monday, February 4, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a pipeline’s use of Ohio’s forced pooling law is not a taking under the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision, although not recommended for full text publication, is significant as more states enact and/or expand the scope of such laws, and may influence a similar suit brought in Colorado, within the Tenth Circuit, challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s forced pooling regulations.  Read More »

In a precedential decision issued by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Vodenichar v. Halcon Energy Properties, Inc., No. 13-2812 (Aug. 16, 2013), the Court addressed the two exceptions to the Class Action Fairness Act that permits remand to state courts of class action complaints over which the federal courts would otherwise have jurisdiction.  First, the Court provided guidance as to the interpretation of the term “primary defendants” for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(B) and, second, held that the “other class action” language of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(A) was not intended to encompass prior actions between the same parties where the procedural history indicates that the second suit was merely a continuation of the prior suit. Read More »

Although they’ve been around forever, oil and gas leases continue to provide fodder for the courts, as we’ve discussed before, especially in light of the boom (or temporary bust, as some might argue) of shale gas drilling.  And it is exactly that boom (or bust) that brings us the decision in Beardslee v. Inflection Energy, LLC, No. 3:12-CV-00252 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 15, 2012). Read More »

As we reported previously, recent exploration and production in the Marcellus Shale has forced Pennsylvania courts to address interpretation of oil and gas leases which may be over 100 years old, relying on cases that are similarly over 100 years old, and to harmonize or reject those cases as they impact the people and property in the 21stcentury.  On March 26, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court attempted to do just that in T.W. Phillips Gas and Oil Co. v. Jedlicka, No. 19 WAP 2009 (Mar. 26, 2012).  The case involved a 1926 oil and gas lease which provided, in relevant part, that the lease would continue for “as long . . . as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities” and required interpretation of the term “in paying quantities.”  Read More »

On January 4, 2011, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued its opinion in Hite v. Falcon Partners, No. 197 WDA 2010, 2011 PA Super 2, holding that productive activities at premises leased for oil and gas activity were essential for the lessee to retain control of the property after the primary lease period, even though the oil and gas lease provided for an indefinite extension of the lease upon the payment of small delay rental payments. Relying on long-standing case law, the Court determined that despite the “unusual” wording of the lease at issue, the equitable principles that require such leases to be interpreted to promote development of the land and resources for the benefit of both the lessor and the lessee remained paramount. Importantly, though, both the lower court and the Superior Court left a slight opening for lessees. The trial court opined that an indefinite period for exploration was not completely foreclosed to lessees, but that the lease language must be “clear and unequivocal.” Similarly, the Superior Court noted that a lessee who wished to preserve exploration rights could enter into a lease with a significantly longer primary term. Read More »