October 1, 2013 – The Washington Post – US judge OKs class actions in Va. lawsuits seeking natural gas royalties from energy cos.

US judge OKs class actions in Va. lawsuits seeking natural gas royalties from energy cos.

By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 12:32 PM

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge has certified a handful of lawsuits as class
actions accusing two energy companies of cheating southwest Virginia residents
out of tens of millions of dollars in royalty payments for natural gas drilled on
their land.

The lead attorney for the landowners said Tuesday he will ask for a summary
judgment in the case and a full financial accounting from the companies for the
thousands of wells they drilled in Virginia’s coalfields region to capture the
methane gas from coal seams.

“This is a body blow to the defendants,” said Don Barrett, an attorney for the
landowners who filed the initial lawsuits. “It’s a wake-up call to them.”

U.S. District Judge James P. Jones, ruling from Abingdon, accepted the
recommendations Monday of a magistrate judge who concluded in June that the
lawsuits should move forward as class actions.

About Don Barrett

Mr. Barrett is one of the preeminent trial lawyers in America and has achieved great success for thousands of clients. Mr. Barrett has been the leader of many large pieces of litigation including the Ford/Firestone MDL Litigation and the tobacco litigation that brought about the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry.