The JDSupra Law News website reports on a West Virginia court case that may have far-reaching consequences for landowners in WV and for landmen and drillers operating in the state. The case is called Barber v. Magnum Land Services, LLC, a recent case filed in Preston County, WV, now transferred to the Northern District. The Barber case, according to JDSupra, has the potential to settle many other outstanding cases along the same lines and is being used as a proxy and precedent for other cases.
The Barber case alleges a landman (from Magnum Land Services) pressured a landowner into signing a lease to allow drilling with the statement that if the landowner did not sign, their land would be drilled under anyway and they would not receive any royalties–a veiled (and inaccurate) reference to “the law of capture” in WV. The landman also did not make the landowner aware of other signed offers, withholding important information about the potential value of the lease. The plaintiffs in Barber are using several legal arguments to nullify the lease. We won’t delve into the technicalities of the case (click below to read about it on the JDSupra website). However, JDSupra’s conclusion offers six steps landmen and drillers should adopt in the way they interact with landowners–steps that will help keep their leases out of court: