FORT WORTH, Texas – The first Louisiana royalty lawsuit filed against Chesapeake Energy by the McDonald Law Firm has been set for trial next year in Houston.
State District Judge Brent Gamble set the trial for April 4, 2016, paving the way for what is expected to be a hard-fought battle between Chesapeake Energy and Louisiana gas royalty owners who claim the energy giant cheated them out of royalties.
The 25-page lawsuit ― which was filed in February on behalf of a DeSoto Parish property owner ― alleges breach of contract and fraud, among other things. The Fort Worth-based McDonald Law Firm, which represents nearly 2,500 Louisiana gas royalty owners, is expected to file at least 10 more lawsuits against Chesapeake this week on behalf of clients with royalty rights in the Haynesville Shale.
The first Louisiana lawsuit was filed in Harris County because Chesapeake’s co-defendants – which include Freeport-McMorRan Oil & Gas (FMOG), PXP Louisiana Operations, LLC and PXP Louisiana Operations LLC – have their principal place of business in Houston, the county seat of Harris County. The co-defendants are also named in the lawsuit.
The Harris County trial date is the latest movement in the McDonald Law Firm’s mass litigation against Chesapeake. The firm currently represents more than 20,000 gas royalty owners across the country ― more than any other firm ― and has filed nearly 170 lawsuits.
Most of the litigation stems from Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Louisiana ― states with some of the country’s biggest shale plays. The lawsuits allege Chesapeake Energy and its subsidiaries have underpaid gas royalty owners in each shale several hundred million dollars.