MANSFIELD, LA (KSLA) - Several hundred mineral rights owners have turned out in Mansfield for a series of meetings offered by a Fort Worth-based law form looking to file mass lawsuits against Chesapeake Energy.
More than 500 showed up for the first 2 "town hall meetings" offered by the McDonald Law Firm in Mansfield on Monday evening. Another 175 or so came to a third session Tuesday night.
As a landowner in Fort Worth, Texas, Dan McDonald says he was given the runaround himself by Chesapeake and had to fight for the royalties owed to him. McDonald, who is not an oil & gas attorney, says he learned through is personal experiences in trying to get answers from the natural gas giant.
"What must it be like to be a royalty owner who's not a lawyer who doesn't understand the oil and gas business. I want to reach out and help those people."
McDonald says his law firm is opening a Mansfield office to manage the cases filed by those who want to file suit against Chesapeake. On a website set up to recruit disgruntled royalty owners called
, McDonald emphasizes that they are not looking to file a class action lawsuit against Chesapeake. Instead, they want to file hundreds of them individually.
They say Texas law has made it difficult to obtain class action status, and they point out that individual lawsuits allow plaintiffs control over accepting or rejecting any potential settlement offers instead of having to take whatever settlements might be reached in a class action.
The law firm has already recruited more than 4,000 claimants in Texas and elsewhere, according to
Their web site lists a series of meetings at other cities and towns in Texas and Pennsylvania through mid-October. Those cities and towns are situated in some of the country's biggest shale plays, where Chesapeake holds significant leases for drilling rights: The Haynesville Shale in Louisiana, The Barnett Shale in North Texas and the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.
McDonald says his plans to hold two more meetings on October 20 and 21 at the Calhoun Center in Mansfield, and similar meetings are in the works for royalty owners in Sabine and Red River Parishes.
We reached out to Chesapeake's Director of Strategic Communications Gordon Pennoyer about the issue.
"We disagree with Mr. McDonald's allegations and will address them in the appropriate forum" says Pennoyer.