By Max B. Baker, Fort Worth Star Telegram on January 6, 2015
Johnson County became the latest public entity to sue Chesapeake Energy, saying it was cheated out of royalties on natural gas pumped from county-owned property.
Also named in the lawsuit is Aubrey McClendon, the company’s former chief executive officer, and Total E&P USA, the French energy giant that bought a 25 percent share in Chesapeake’s Barnett Shale holdings in 2010.
Dan McDonald, a Fort Worth attorney representing individual royalty owners against Chesapeake, filed the suit late Monday in Johnson County civil court. The suit does not mention a dollar amount in losses, but McDonald said it exceeds $50 million.
“Chesapeake has substantially overcharged for postproduction expenses and made billions of dollars by hedging gas on the market and not paying the royalty on it,” McDonald said.
While the firm is still calculating the exact acreage involved, the Chesapeake leases include parkland, rodeo grounds and airport property, as well as county roads and land that has come under its control from eminent domain and other legal actions, according to McDonald and court documents.