Judge Rules Against Carroll and Columbiana County Landowners

A judge has declined to rule in favor of landowners in a lawsuit filed against Chesapeake Energy, while also declining to rule in favor of Chesapeake over the disputed language in the lease agreements in question.

The landowners (the defendants) attempted to exercise a clause in their lease - originally signed with Anschutz Exploration - which allows them to obtain a bone fide, third-party offer for a new lease during the primary term of their lease with Chesapeake (the plaintiffs). Upon receiving a third-party offer the lessors (landowners) are required to notify the lessee (Chesapeake) in writing within 30 days and provide the opportunity for them to match the new offer. All of this took place when Torchlight Energy, Inc. approached the lessors and offered them a better value for their land. The offer was forwarded to Chesapeake in writing, and they chose not to match the offer. The landowners thus were seeking to sign the new leases with Torchlight.  Read our previous report on this lawsuit here.

From Farm and Dairy:
For the landowners, a judge’s opinion didn’t go as hoped in a lawsuit over an oil and gas lease affecting 95 property owners in Columbiana and Carroll counties.
The Carroll County Common Pleas Court opinion was delivered in November by Visiting Judge Richard M. Markus who was assigned to the cases.  
The lawsuits were filed in February by Chesapeake Exploration against the landowners and the landowners filed their own lawsuits that same month.
Read the rest of the article here.

It certainly seemed like the landowners had a good case based on the language in the lease.  It would be interesting to read more explanation of the judge's decision.  In a situation where it seemed that a judge would have to tell one side they were right and tell the other side they were wrong, it would appear that he just chose to tell both sides they were wrong and not really make a decision on the language of the lease.

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