PA Fed Judge Rejects Class Action in Chesapeake Royalty Case

Yesterday a Pennsylvania federal judge denied a group of 600+ Marcellus Shale landowners’ request to form a class action in arbitrating a royalty case against Chesapeake Energy. Although the judge’s decision is a disappointment for landowners, his decision should come as a surprise. In April, the same judge, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann for the Middle District of PA, telegraphed that the landowners, under the law (and under the leases they signed) did not have a right to form a class action (see Chesapeake Scores Court Victory to Prevent PA Royalty Class Action). However, the landowners continued to pursue it by appealing the judge’s initial decision. Brann, in rendering yesterday’s decision, begins his written ruling with a quote from the Lord of the Rings: “Short cuts make long delays.” His point: The landowners tried to short circuit the legal process and they can’t. Landowners will need to individually litigate/arbitrate their cases with Chesapeake. The judge lectured landowners that they could have already been well on their way to a resolution of their individual cases had they not stubbornly continued to pursue class action arbitration. Below we have a brief background on the case to better understand the decision, followed by a copy of Judge Brann’s decision from yesterday…

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