Class certification in Pennsylvania royalty lawsuit

On September 16, 2013, in Pollock, et al v. Energy Corporation of America, Case No. 2:10-cv-1553, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell issued a Supplemental Report and Recommendation in which he granted class certification to two of three subclasses of plaintiffs.

This decision vacates Judge Mitchell’s August 5, 2013 ruling in which he denied class certification for all groups of plaintiffs due to no proof that the class would exceed 40 members and there was no commonality of claims.

After reconsideration requested by plaintiffs, Judge Mitchell determined that two subclasses of plaintiffs met class certification requirements:

  1. landowners who allegedly had interstate pipeline charges withheld from their royalty payments and 
  2. landowners who allegedly had marketing fees deducted after the gas had been sold. 
Defendant Energy Corporation of America (ECA) now has the opportunity to challenge these findings.

This lawsuit was originally filed by ten landowners on November 22, 2010 and was amended as a class action on March 4, 2011. In January 2013, the Court partially granted ECA’s motion for summary judgment by dismissing plaintiffs’ claims that ECA used the wrong gas prices, took excessive or unauthorized expense deductions, and underpaid oil and gas royalties. As for plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled that ECA improperly deducted charges for interstate transportation costs incurred after ECA sold and transferred title to the gas.

Recently a $7.5 million class action settlement agreement relating to royalty payments was filed for approval in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. See prior blog dated September 9, 2013, “$7.5million settlement reached in Pennsylvania class action regarding deductions of post-production costs from royalty payments.”

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.