KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Legal Newsline) – A gas well owner’s class action lawsuit against Oxy USA will stay in federal court despite the plaintiff’s wish that it be remanded back to state court.

From 2010 until 2014, Oxy USA was one of the largest natural gas well operators in Kansas, according to a July 27 order from Judge Eric Melgren, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. 

Deanna Guylene Stoddard filed a lawsuit against Oxy in February in Grant County District Court, alleging that Oxy breached its contract to her and others. 

Stoddard alleged in her original complaint that she and other oil well owners “have been damaged through underpayment of the actual amounts due in an amount less than $5 million, exclusive of interest and attorneys’ fees.”

Stoddard sought class action status.

Oxy removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas on March 23 under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). On April 4, Stoddard sought remand of the case, claiming Oxy failed to satisfy the requirements for federal jurisdiction under CAFA. Stoddard also claimed the $5 million threshold amount for removal had not been reached. 

The court’s order denying remand states that because class certification has not occurred, Stoddard cannot bind the class to a limit on damages. 

The order states, “As a result, Stoddard did not allege an amount in controversy below the jurisdictional limit in good faith and Oxy’s Notice of Removal only needs to plausibly allege the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.”

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