***UPDATE: Negotiations stalled in this case. The matter for a temporary restraining order went in front of Judge David S. Cercone March 30. He issued the temporary restraining order which stops the landowners from preventing Chesapeake Appalachia access. The matter was not decided on the validity of the leases and “was only based on the narrow issue.The tree cutting crews have to be finished by midnight March 31.***
PITTSBURGH, Pa. — In a case of court wrangling, Chesapeake Appalachia filed a federal lawsuit against Robert C. and Mary S. McRoberts, Kevin R. and Connie J. McRoberts and Michael A. and Kelly L. Carreon March 27.
The lawsuit comes as the McRoberts’ and Carreon’s filed a lawsuit with 14 other Beaver County landowners the same day in Beaver County Court. Their lawsuit alleges fraud and the legalities of their leases which they signed between 2002 and 2005.
The landowners listed entered into an oil and gas lease with O&G Investment Holdings, LLC. for a total of 263 acres in Darlington Township in 2005, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, contractors with Chesapeake went to the 263 acres covered in the lawsuit to begin operations including tree cutting March 27 and were refused access.
Chesapeake told the court in the filing that they needed to be allowed on the property before March 28 to commence clearing operations in preparation for well drilling activities.
The deadlines is a result of the fact that Chesapeake will need at least three days to cut trees on the property by March 31.
The tree cutting needs to be completed by the deadline because the property is part of the hibernacula of the Indiana bat, a threatened and endangered species as determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because of the threat to the Indiana bat population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibits cutting down trees and clearing after March 31 until after Nov. 1.
In the court filing, Chesapeake said that being denied the ability to remove the trees, the company was prevented from beginning operations for theses leases and other leases which will be included in the unit.
Chesapeake was asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the landowners from preventing access.
A hearing in front of Judge David S. Cercone was set for March 29. He did not rule on the matter and instead met with both parties and urged that they attempt to resolve the matter, according to the court records. Both sides agreed to spend the rest of the day in negotiations. If a settlement is not reached then a hearing on temporary restraining order will be held March 30.
The Farm and Dairy attempted to get comments from Chesapeake Appalachia, but they were unanswered.