Stockholder accuses Chesapeake Energy of making false statements

By Christopher Knoll | Dec 20, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) - A stockholder is suing Chesapeake Energy Corp., CEO Robert Lawler and CFO Domenic Dell'Osso Jr., as well as the company board.

Terrence Saunders, who filed a class action lawsuit Oct. 4, individually and for others similarly situated, alleges CHK made false and misleading statements regarding the company's operations and also released equally false and misleading documents to the public in an effort to encourage investors to buy stock.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., founded in 1989 by former CEO Aubrey McClendon and co-founder Tom L. Ward, is an Oklahoma City-based petroleum and oil exploration and production company. The company went public in 1993 with an initial value of $25 million and was added to the S&P 500 in 2006. By 2014, CHK had assets valued at $520 million.

Controversy has followed CHK since 2012, when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began investigating the company for collusion in lowering the price of oil exploration land in Michigan during the run-up to a public auction. 

Although that case went nowhere, two years later CHK was again under investigation, this time for canceling land leases for supposed erroneous reasons. That case was settled out of court for $25 million in 2015.

The following year McClendon died in a single-occupant, single-vehicle crash that occurred the day after a Justice Department federal grand jury indicted the former CEO for violating antitrust laws during his tenure at Chesapeake.

According to attorney Daniel Mirarchi of Spector Roseman Kodroff & Willis (SRKW), a Philadelphia-based law firm representing a large state pension fund joining the class action suit against CHK, the recent pending case “comes off the heels of [the] DOJ investigation” but “how it is interrelated, I can’t comment on.”

Mirarchi also told Legal Newsline his firm and others are currently determining who will serve as the lead counsel on the case. They, much like the other firms involved, “looked at the case and we think it has merit. We look forward to representing our client,” Mirarchi said.

Chesapeake Energy Corp was contacted for comment but Legal Newsline received no response.

Saunders seeks trial by jury, interest, court costs and any further relief the court grants. He is represented by attorneys William B. Federman of Federman & Sherwood in Oklahoma City; Jeremy A. Lieberman, J. Alexander Hood II and Marc C. Gorrie of Pomerantz LLP in New York; and by Patrick V. Dahlstrom of Pomerantz LLP in Chicago.

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