first time that folks in DISH have raised a ruckus about the natural gas and pipeline industry.
The town sits at the intersection of several major natural gas pipelines and residents have complained that so much of their land is being taken for pipelines that the town may not get to develop much of its surface.
One more example of how the Barnett Shale has changed things: The Texas Department of Insurance settled a dispute between title insurance companies and real estate lawyers about whether the title companies have to check the ownership of mineral when they issue a title policy.
The insurance companies won, but keep an eye on the Texas Department of Insurance, which is scheduled to rule in November on whether consumers will get a discount on title insurance.
Chesapeake Energy, which is fighting a lawsuit filed by Burleson property owners who claim the company illegally reneged on a lease agreement that would have benefited 408 households, wants to have the case heard in a Dallas federal court. But the property owners filed the lawsuit July 20 in the 18th State District Court in Cleburne and want venue to be there. Burleson is in far northern Johnson County.
Chesapeake contends the proposed class action lawsuit should be in federal court in part because the Class Action Fairness Act authorizes such jurisdiction for class actions with more than $5 million at stake. Chesapeake, represented by the prominent Fort Worth law firm of Kelly, Hart & Hallman, notes that the lawsuit seeks nearly nearly $6.7 million just for lease bonuses.
Another well-known Fort Worth law firm, Whitaker, Chalk, Swindle & Sawyer, represents two named plaintiffs, Leslee Dawn Ahrend and Buster Ray Williams, and wants the lawsuit to be declared a class action that would include the hundreds of Burleson properties that would have benefited from a lease agreement reached in 2008 between representatives of Chesapeake and an alliance of homeowners .
Under the agreement, property owners would have received a lucrative lease bonus of $27,200 per acre and a 25.25 percent royalty, the lawsuit states. It contends that Chesapeake was guilty of breach of contract in aborting the agreement by refusing to sign lease agreements with individual property owners based on the terms of the agreement. The plaintiffs cite a letter, dated Oct. 16, 2008, that a senior landman representing Chesapeake sent to representatives of Burleson homeowners. The landman said that, as a result of the deep economic recession and plunging natural gas prices, Chesapeake was "withdrawing previous offers to lease your minerals." The ,lawsuit contends that Chesapeake this year has offered a lease bonus of only $1,000 an acre and a 25 percent royalty.
A claim that the southeast Fort Worth retiree filed based on Glencrest Resources failing to pay him a bonus check for a Barnett Shale natural gas drilling lease is set to be heard at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 by a six-person jury in the court of Justice of the Peace Sidney Thompson. The court is at the Tarrant County subcourthouse at 3500 Miller Ave. in southeast Fort Worth. A visiting judge is expected to preside over the civil proceeding.
Thomas, in a recent interview with the Star-Telegram, said he should have received a bonus check of about $2,300 for his lease, which he said he signed in 2006. The three-year lease expires in November, he said.
The late Leonard E. Briscoe Sr., who died in June, formed Glencrest Resources, but had difficulty securing funding for payment of lease bonus checks. Approximately 3,600 persons signed leases with Glencrest, About 1,300 of the leaseholders received bonuses, but only after signing new, extended lease agreements with Glencrest that gave it up to five years to drill on the leases. A substantial number of Glencrest leaseholders signed leases with other companies after failing to get a bonus check from Glencrest, which has been sued in 348th State District Court by Pamela Ellis, a Fort Worth resident who said she did not receive a bonus check after leasing her property. For more,see story in today's Star-Telegram http://www.star-telegram.com/business/story/1610415.html
An attorney told a southwest Fort Worth neighborhood association Tuesday night that a litigation group formed by three Dallas law firms might seek hundreds of millions of dollars in damages against energy companies that reached lease agreements with alliances of neighborhood associations, but then declined to enter into individual lease contracts with many property owners.
"The promises they (energy companies) made to Fort Worth were maybe $150 million," attorney Kip Petroff told members of the Meadows of CandleRidge Neighborhood Association who packed a meeting at a Knights of Columbus hall. Petroff said the companies could be sued for triple damages, plus attorneys' fees, under provisions of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The litigation group has filed a lawsuit in Dallas on behalf of an Arlington couple, Willie and Carmen Booth, that it contends is due a lease bonus of nearly $5,000 from XTO Energy as a result of an agreement that the South East Arlington Coalition of Texas, an alliance of neighborhoods, reached for lease bonuses of $26,517 per acre. The Meadows of CandleRidge association was part of the Southwest Fort Worth Alliance, which reached an agreement with Vantage Energy for lease bonuses of $27,500 per acre. Meadows of CandleRidge Association President Eva Bonilla stressed Tuesday night that the organization was not endorsing the litigation group's legal effort, but only allowing it to hold an informational session.
The energy companies sued by the Booths are expected to contend that they were not bound to pay lease bonuses negotiated with alliances of homeowner groups unless the companies had entered into binding lease contracts with individual property owners.
Three Dallas law firms that have formed the North Texas Lease Litigation Group are contending that energy companies are trying to renege on drilling agreements with homeowners' association alliances in North Texas' Barnett Shale. Those agreements are binding leases, the law firms say, even if individual property owners did not sign formal lease contracts. The law firms have sued on behalf of an Arlington couple, Willie and Carmen Booth, who claim they are due a lease bonus of nearly $5,000. Read the complete story in the Star-Telegram.
Shreveport, which is in the heart of the Haynesville Shale natural gas play, is struggling with some of the same issues that Fort Worth addressed last year: How to write an ordinance that allows natural gas drilling in an urban area, while protecting air and water quality.