Friday, December 11, 2009

More on gas in Virginia

Here are more parts of the Daniel Gilbert series on natural gas in Southwest Virginia, which I recommend no matter which side of things you're on.

Part Three explains the Harrison-Wyatt decision, about the ownership of coalbed methane under particular deed language.

Part Four
says the coal companies still claim coalbed methane, despite the Harrison-Wyatt decision.

Part Five takes on Wachovia's role with the escrowed funds.

Part Six says sometimes gas companies don't pay, or get the paper work right, and nobody is checking up on them.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

On firefighters getting promoted at the courthouse not the firehouse

In Wesley v. Arlington County, the Fourth Circuit in a 2-1 unpublished decision reversed summary judgment for the County, in a case where the plaintiff alleged that she was denied promotion on account of her race and gender. Judge Wilkinson dissented, pointing out that the other candidates were more experienced and the plaintiff had some performance issues, and concluded: "This case is, however, regrettably weak. The promotion in question should be earned at the stationhouse -- not the courthouse."

On putting the genie back in the bottle

The Supreme Court held in Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter written by new Justice Sotomayor that if the trial court makes you fork over discovery that you think is covered by the attorney-client privilege, you cannot take an immediate appeal under the collateral order exception to the requirement that only "final" orders are appealable.

And, the rationale was that the wrongful disclosure of privileged documents can be fixed after the end of the case, or appealed some other way perhaps - such as defying the Court's order and getting thrown in jail, which seems like something that would not ordinarily be the path of choice.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The gas royalty series in the Bristol paper

Here are parts one and two of what is said to be an eight-part series by Daniel Gilbert detailing some inequities in the Virginia law pertaining to royalties for natural gas and coalbed methane.

The escrow statute for recovering escroyed royalties for coalbed methane is Va. Code 45.1-361.22, and it provides: "The Board shall order payment of principal and accrued interest, less escrow account fees, from the escrow account to conflicting claimants only after (i) a final decision of a court of competent jurisdiction adjudicating the ownership of coalbed methane gas as between them or (ii) an agreement among all claimants owning conflicting estates in the tract in question or any undivided interest therein. Upon receipt of an affidavit from conflicting claimants affirming such decision or agreement, the designated operator shall, within 30 days, file with the Board a petition for disbursement of funds on behalf of the conflicting claimants. The petition shall include a detailed accounting of all funds deposited in escrow that are subject to the proposed disbursement. The amount to be paid to the conflicting claimants shall be determined based on the percentage of ownership interest of the conflicting claimants as shown in the operator's supplemental filing made part of the pooling order that established the escrow account, the operator's records of deposits attributable to those tracts for which funds are being requested, and the records of the escrow account for the coalbed methane gas drilling unit. The petition for disbursement shall be placed on the first available Board docket. Funds shall be disbursed within 30 days after the Board decision and receipt by the Department of all documentation required by the Board. The interests of any cotenants that have not been resolved by the agreement or by judicial decision shall remain in the escrow account."

Sounds like a party.