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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ascent Resources Accused of Playing "Shell Game" to Avoid Liability in Lawsuit Over Unpaid Bonuses in Ohio

We have previously mentioned the lawsuit that was filed by 70 Ohio landowners against American Energy Utica (which subsequently changed its name to Ascent Resources) over bonuses that were never paid on leases.

Ascent Resources is now attempting to get the lawsuit against it dismissed, claiming that because the leases only mention payment being required by the land agent that Ascent was contracted with, Great River, and do not mention payment from Ascent, that the company should not be party to the suit.

The landowners say, though, that Ascent was directing every action taken by Great River, and that the motion to dismiss is a transparent attempt by Ascent to shift blame and try to weasel out of its commitments.

From NGI:
"The orders of payment make absolutely no mention of any Ascent defendants, nor is there any indication on the face of the orders of payments that Great River entered into the purported contract as an agent for another," Ascent said in its motion to dismiss. The company said landowner claims that its predecessors acted with malice and intentionally breached the leases were "speculative and conclusory." 
The company's arguments reflect its position after the lawsuit was filed, when representatives said Ascent should not be a defendant. 
Yet in responding to Ascent's motion, the landowners continue to maintain that Great River -- which state records show was established to do business in Ohio two months after AELP was formed -- worked under the direction of Ascent's predecessors. 
"Despite controlling every facet of Great River's leasing efforts and instructing Great River, as its agent, to lease the plaintiffs properties for its benefit, the [Ascent] defendants now seek to avoid all liability associated with the breaches of the orders of payment; breaches that [Ascent] defendants procured when it directed Great River to not pay the plaintiffs despite the clear obligation under the orders of payment to do so," the landowners said. They added that Ascent's motion to dismiss is "nothing more than a thinly veiled corporate shell game" aimed at avoiding liability.
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