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.
Read more about this in Thursday's Star-Telegram.
--Jack Z. Smith