Stark County: Landowner files shale lawsuit to challenge Chesapeake Exploration

CANTON, Ohio — William and Joyce Green, Sandy Township in Stark County has filed a lawsuit April 18 against Chesapeake Exploration.

Lawsuit filed

The Greens are suing to receive fair value for the use of their land, to cancel the lease that Anschutz obtained without full disclosure of the drilling process, and to remove the lease from the Stark County Recorder’s records because their claim their lease was robo-notarized.

In addition, the Greens believe that Chesapeake does not want to honor the company’s lease obligations.

The Stark County couple is represented by the law firm of Tzangas, Plakas, Mannos and Raies, in Canton.

Anschutz Exploration

The landowners contend in 2008, Anschutz Exploration Corporation obtained leases from hundreds of landowners in Stark County with the landowners believing the lease provisions gave them the right to receive fair value for their oil and gas rights by being able to accept third party offers or renegotiate prior to the commencement of drilling operations on their land.

Chesapeake acquired the Greens’ lease when it acquired thousands of acres of these Anschutz leases in 2010. However, the Greens believe the lease was not properly notarized, and improperly assigned to Chesapeake and not eligible to recorded in the Stark County recorder’s office.

Notary

The lawsuit states that the Greens never signed the lease in front of Randy Osburn, of Canton, Ohio, the notary who put his seal on the Anschutz Exploration leases, and claim “robo-notarizing” was used to notarize the leases.

According to the Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine’s office, robo-notarizing in the context of a lawsuit indicates someone notarizing a bunch of documents not in the presence of the affiant (Greens).

No notification

In addition, the Greens’ lawsuit states they were not notified in writing of Chesapeake purchasing the lease within 30 days as Ohio’s law required.

Additional issues raised the lawsuit include the Greens’ allegations about the actions of the landmen they dealt with when they signed with Anschutz, and that the landmen allegedly didn’t tell the landowners that horizontal drilling could be used under their lease.

Scare tactics? The lawsuit specifically alleges that the Anschutz landman induced the Greens into signing the lease by threatening that if they didn’t sign, the company (Anschutz) would drill under their property and remove the oil and gas without paying them. The landman also allegedly told the Greens that no other landowners would receive a higher up-front signing bonuses than the Greens were getting.

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