The lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Squire, Sanders and Dempsey in Washington, D.C. A court date has not been set yet.
In April 2004, Sam Johnson, owner of Summitcrest Farm, leased the land he and his family owned to Burlington Inc. for oil and gas drilling.
Johnson said one well was drilled and the permit for a second well was issued by the state but it was not drilled.
An addendum to the lease, according to Johnson, states once Eric Petroleum drilled one well, drilling was supposed to commence immediately on another well. This didn’t happen and the lease rent was not paid for a few years. This made Johnson think the lease was not in force.
He said the farm was notified in December 2010 the lease had been sold. A lease check was sent from Chesapeake Exploration in April, but he didn’t cash it.
Eric Petroleum Corp. sold the lease in 2004 to Ohio Buckeye Energy LLC (a subsidiary of Chesapeake Exploration.) Chesapeake Exploration is a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy.
This summer, Johnson got a call from Chesapeake Exploration LLC, requesting permission to take a survey of the land in preparation for drilling.
“All that is stopping Chesapeake from coming onto my farm is my three F1 Brahman-Angus bulls,” said Johnson, as he explained he requested Chesapeake officials sign a waiver of liability before coming onto the property for the survey.
He thought they were calling about land leased to them in Carroll County, but discovered they were coming to survey part of the farm in Columbiana County, under the Eric Petroleum lease, which he thought had been nullified.
Johnson said, as far as he knows, there are at least 65,000 acres of land leased to Eric Petroleum and those landowners could be in similar situations.
Johnson said the goal of the lawsuit is to get his property back and to be able to negotiate with Chesapeake Exploration.
“I want the judge to enforce the Ohio law and return the property back to the owner. Then hopefully, other properties will be returned to them after the precedent is set,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Johnson said he will also appear before the Oil and Gas Commission Oct. 28 to make an appeal.