SALEM, Ohio — A jury in Columbiana County found in favor of Patriot Energy Partners LLC and nine other defendants in a lawsuit over an oil and gas lease. The trial lasted five days, but a jury took less than 30 minutes to rule in favor of Patriot.
The lawsuit was filed in February by the Starkey family, which includes Roger, Carolyn, Bruce and James. The lease covered farmland in the Kensington area.
The Starkeys signed a lease with Patriot Energy Partners in 2008. The lease was then sold to Buckeye Energy, Bass Energy, Wimsatt Family, LLC. and Sonata Investment Company.
The lawsuit also listed PEP Leasing LLC, of Lisbon; Andrew W. Blocksom, of Lisbon; Thomas R. Blocksom, of Columbiana; and Robert Dickey, of Lisbon. (They are listed as being part of Patriot Energy Partners and PEP.)
The lease was then sold to Chesapeake Exploration, LLC. for approximately $1,100 per acre and included the “deep rights.”
The lawsuit contends the original lease was invalid because the leases were notarized by Andrew Blocksom, Thomas Blocksom and Robert Dickey, despite each of them having an economic interest in the lease.
In addition, the Starkeys contended that all of the defendants, except Chesapeake, concealed facts to induce them to sign the initial lease.
Before the jury’s verdict, visiting Judge Richard Reinbold granted verdicts in favor of Bob Dickey, Andy, Blocksom, Tom Blocksom, PEP Leasing, Bass Energy and Buckeye Oil Producing Company.
In a written statement to the media, Patriot President Andy Blocksom said the company did everything properly and was glad to see that the jury arrived at the same conclusion. He also said he was thankful that all of the other defendants were dismissed from this lawsuit.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Brendan Delay, issued a written statement, saying the Starkeys are examining the law pertaining to an appeal of the jury verdict and earlier rulings regarding the Patriot defendants.
Chesapeake Exploration had been a defendant in the case when it was filed, but was later dismissed. According to Delay, Chesapeake settled with the Starkeys before the case went to trial. The details of that settlement are not public, as a confidentiality agreement was signed by all parties.