Chesapeake Scores Court Victory to Prevent PA Royalty Class Action

Sometimes we wish we had gone to law school–to better understand some of the cases involved with oil and gas. This is one of those times. When you read words like “arbitrability,” the eyes start to glaze over. We’ll do our best to summarize some important news for landowners who want to sue Chesapeake over shorted royalty checks. Starting in 2008, Chesapeake Energy, under then-CEO Aubrey McClendon, began leasing acreage in northeastern Pennsylvania for shale drilling. Said drilling happened and in 2013, Scout Petroleum purchased royalty rights from some NEPA landowners. That is, Scout took over receiving the royalty payments in return for giving those landowners an up front, lump sum. In 2014, when it became obvious Chesapeake was using aggressive deductions from royalty payments (i.e. landowners were getting hosed), Scout filed a lawsuit against Chesapeake, requesting (under the lease language) that their grievances against Chessy be arbitrated AND (not specifically under the lease language) that Scout and thousands of other landowners be lumped together into class action arbitration (see Bad to Worse: PA Royalty Owner Asks Court for Chessy Class Action). Scout lost the case over class action and appealed. In late April, an appeals judge found that class action arbitration is not part of the original lease language, express or implied, and therefore is not allowed. Scout is appealing the decision once again. This is far from over, but for now, Chesapeake has a small victory in forcing landowners to file individual lawsuits…

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