PA District Court Rules in Favor of Driller in NEPA Lease Dispute

lease agreementA decision by the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania is worth noting–for both drillers AND landowners. A landowner in Susquehanna County, PA sold some land already under lease to a new landowner/rights owner. Neither the new landowner nor the previous landowner informed the driller of the change in ownership. The time came to renew the lease and under the terms of the contract the driller sent payment–but didn’t know about the change in ownership–so the driller sent the payment to the previous owner. The new landowner used that faux pas as a legal excuse to sue the driller to break the contract. The new landowner claimed the paperwork filed (not the full lease but an abstract) didn’t contain mention of informing the driller. In other words, the landowner used the “we didn’t know” excuse. The judge disagreed and said, a) the lease itself clearly outlines the responsibilities of the old/new landowners to inform the driller, b) there is a reasonable expectation for the new landowner to perform due diligence in seeking out a copy of the original lease to know that. Therefore the new landowner is still under lease. Here’s an outline of the case, with names…

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