OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) – A Kansas woman is suing oil and natural gas assets companies over their alleged anti-competitive practices.
Janet L. Lowry, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class-action lawsuit March 24 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against Chesapeake Energy Corp., Chesapeake Exploration LLC, SandRidge Energy Inc., Tom L. Ward, and John Does 1-50, alleging violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The suit states that from Dec. 27, 2007, to at least March 31, 2012, the defendants conspired to rig bids and depress the price of royalty and bonus payments exchanged for purchases of oil and natural gas leasehold interests and properties, resulting in a criminal indictment against Chesapeake's founder and former CEO, Aubrey K. McClendon.
Chesapeake cooperated with the Department of Justice's investigation and admitted to violating federal antitrust laws, but Lowry and her council have allegedly obtained further information evidencing the defendants' anti-competitive conspiracy, the suit states.
The defendants allegedly furthered their conspiracy by allocating among themselves the leasehold interests for certain parcels of land across various counties, agreeing not to compete in acquiring the affected leasehold or property interests, and regularly meeting and communicating to agree on prices they would pay the class members for leasehold interest royalty and bonus payments.
As a result, Lowry and others in the class received artificially depressed royalty and bonus prices for the mineral rights they leased to the defendants, according to the suit.
Lowry and other class members seek a jury trial, treble damages, interests, injunctive relief, attorney fees, and other costs of the suit. They are represented by attorneys Dennis A. Caruso of Caruso Law Firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Christopher J. Cormier, Richard A. Koffman, Emmy L. Levens and Robert W. Cobbs of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Denver, Colorado and Washington, D.C.; Joseph Goldberg and Frank T. Davis of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Kathryn A. Reilly and Hugh Q. Gottschalk of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell in Denver, Colorado.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma Case number 5:16-CV-00284-F