ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a Feb. 8 ruling, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board said a petition for post-grant review (PGR) established that a recently issued patent for a system and method for operating a directly driven turbine fracturing pump system likely contains unpatentable claims.
WHEELING, W.Va. — A group of landowners on Feb. 1 sued a hydraulic fracturing company in West Virginia federal court contending that it underpaid them the royalties they are owed under contract and arguing that the company engaged in “fraudulent misrepresentations” regarding monthly payment statements and the terms of the leases.
CINCINNATI — A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 1 affirmed a district court’s ruling and held that landowners were receiving the correct amount of hydraulic fracturing royalties and that the calculation method used by the companies did not entail a deduction of costs, contrary to the plaintiffs’ claims.
RICHMOND, Va. — A panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 3 vacated and remanded for a second time the permit approval granted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a 304-mile pipeline that would carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas from West Virginia into Virginia, ruling that there were flaws in environmental assessments that analyzed the project’s impact on two species of endangered fish.
RICHMOND, Va. — The Sierra Club and other environmental advocacy groups on Jan. 14 filed a reply brief in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals asserting the validity of their challenge to a permit issued to a company building a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured oil and gas. The groups insist that the state water control board violated Virginia law when it failed to evaluate important aspects of the project.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Jan. 21 ordered an oilfield services company to pay a railway company $469,686.21 for unpaid freight costs plus finance charges in connection with a contract dispute over the transportation of sand used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The judge concluded that the oilfield company was liable for transportation issues because it was in charge of the logistics related to delivering the product.
VICTORIA, Texas — A man who receives royalties from hydraulic fracturing companies that operate on his land sued those operators in Texas federal court on Jan. 20, contending that they are violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by drilling well pads and preparing to engage in fracking operations in an area the landowner says is an “ideal habitat” for an endangered wild cat known as a jaguarundi.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A hydraulic fracturing company on Jan. 21 filed a brief in Ohio federal court contending that it should deny a motion to certify a class of royalty owners who say they have been underpaid because the putative class cannot satisfy the requirements for certification.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gulfport Energy Corp. on Feb. 1 filed a reply brief in Ohio federal court contending that it should grant the company judgment on the pleadings with regard to the definition of certain terms in a pooling agreement and as a result it should dismiss a royalty payment dispute brought by Sabre Energy Corp.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office on Feb. 2 released a grand jury presentment, which found that hydraulic fracturing pipeline company ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC, which is building a pipeline to carry hydraulically fractured gas through parts of Pennsylvania, failed to conduct proper oversight and violated the state’s Clean Streams Law (CSL). The pipeline company has previously paid $125,000 in civil penalties for causing landslides and methane leaks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), a public health advocacy group, on Jan. 31 published a report on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado in which it says it has unearthed previously unpublished information that shows that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used in the state’s oil and gas wells since at least 2008, yet Colorado’s disclosure rules prevent the public from knowing how widely PFAS or other toxic chemicals have been used fracking operations.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Jan. 31 made a notation in the docket directing a drilling company to submit exhibits for in camera review in relation to the company’s motion to seal those documents because they purportedly contain confidential trade secrets.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Jan. 28 vacated and remanded the record of decision reached by federal agencies to support a lease sale for hydraulic fracturing in the Gulf of Mexico, determining that the agencies acted “arbitrarily and capriciously in excluding foreign consumption from their greenhouse gas emissions calculation” concerning the impact of drilling.
LOS ANGELES — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on Jan. 26 filed a declaratory judgment action against the secretary of the Interior, seeking a ruling that federal agencies are in violation of federal laws with regard to the authorization and management of offshore oil and gas activities off the coast of California.
AKRON, Ohio — Pipeline companies that transport hydraulically fractured oil and gas on Jan. 28 sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Ohio federal court contending that FERC’s attempt to impose a $20 million civil penalty on the companies is an administrative enforcement action that would “violate multiple constitutional provisions.”
The journalists and staff of Mealey’s Litigation Reports are saddened by the passing of co-founder Michael P. Mealey. He was a respected member of the newsletter community, being named publisher of the year by the National Newsletter Association and president of the National Newsletter Association. Mike and Judy Mealey started Mealey Publications Inc. in 1984. As president, Mike grew the Mealey’s Litigation Report portfolio, introduced email news bulletins and electronic CD formats and launched a continuing legal education conference business. Mealey’s was sold to LexisNexis in 2000. We hope to carry on his journalistic curiosity and integrity in the titles we continue to publish today under his name.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Supreme Court on Jan. 26 granted a petition for review of a lower court’s ruling that state law preempts a local ordinance banning fracking. The high court also directed the parties to file briefs on preemption with regard to specific sections of the local initiative.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Gas Association (AGA) and other trade groups on Jan. 6 filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that the court should review a dispute over the construction of a gas pipeline because “although the decision below directly affects a single pipeline that supplies natural gas to only one (important) market in the country, the principle at stake is of immense importance.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A fracking technology firm that received an adverse ruling in a patent litigation lawsuit filed a petition for certiorari on Jan. 12, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify whether a determination of a case’s exceptionality for the purposes of awarding attorney fees, per Section 285 of the Patent Act, must include consideration of whether any litigation misconduct occurred.
PITTSBURGH — Investors sued a hydraulic fracturing company and its officers in Pennsylvania federal court on Dec. 28, contending that they violated securities laws when they issued materially false statements pertaining to a plan to acquire a rival company.