Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Attorneys say Chesapeake lawsuit settlement letters are in the mail

The McDonald Law Firm in Fort Worth led the mass litigation filed against Chesapeake Energy over royalty payments.
The McDonald Law Firm in Fort Worth led the mass litigation filed against Chesapeake Energy over royalty payments. Star-Telegram

The letter’s in the mail.

Angry landowners accusing Chesapeake Energy of cheating them out of millions of dollars in royalties have started receiving letters from the McDonald and Circelli, Walter & Young law firms explaining the global settlement offer that was reached last month.

Part of the letter gives a generic explanation of the $52.5 million deal reached with Chesapeake and Total E&P USA, Chesapeake’s partner in the Barnett Shale. The back portion of the letter gets into specifics of how each landowner would get paid, minus attorney fees.

There’s also a consent form on the back page where the client can decide whether to accept the deal hammered out by the law firms and Chesapeake’s attorneys. Ninety percent of the 13,000 clients — and leaseholders who account for at least 95 percent of the natural gas pumped out of the ground since May 2011 — must give their stamp of approval by July 11.

Dan McDonald, the attorney who started the mass litigation against Chesapeake, said about half the letters were mailed Tuesday and the rest the next day. He said the firm has a phone line set up that can handle 100 calls at a time; by 8:30 a.m. Thursday, about 80 people were already on the line.

There’s also phone line with a recordin of McDonald explaining the deal.

“It has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m optimistic about the response,” McDonald said. “We’ve tried to do our level best to give our clients as much information as we can.”

The potential deal, even before being approved, is already having an impact.

First of all, the next three trials have been delayed — one was supposed to start on Monday — because of the proposed settlement. Now, if the deal is rejected and there still is a trial, it won’t be until September. Trials had been scheduled for each month stretching all the way to January.

“There will be no trials this summer,” attorney George Parker Young said.

Also, if you have a Chesapeake lease, saw that $52.5 million headline and thought, ‘How do I get some of that?’ don’t call McDonald’s or Young’s firms. They aren’t accepting any new clients in regards to Chesapeake in the Barnett Shale, at least for the moment.

“We’re not taking more clients. We have moved on,” Young said.

Fifty ways to please someone

Talking about settlements over royalties, there are 50 different ways to cut a deal.

Just ask the attorneys involved in the Tarrant County lawsuit regarding Fifty Shades of Grey and how royalities of a different kind were not paid.

Just a quick reminder: Jennifer Pedroza of Arlington sued Amanda Hayward of Australia over money earned by the international bestseller several years ago. The two women, along with others, were involved in an online blog that morphed into the publishing house that initially printed the soft-core porn novel. Eventually, Random House stepped in and the book made more than $40 million for the group. Pedroza said Hayward cheated her out of her share of the royalties, and a jury agreed.

A judge in Tarrant County eventually awarded Pedroza $11.5 million and ordered Hayward to set aside $13 million in cash and assets in a registry of the court to pay the judgment and attorney fees. As expected, Hayward’s attorneys have filed a notice of appeal.

In the meantime, the two sides keep talking.

David Keltner, the Fort Worth attorney preparing the appeal, said, “The other side has approached us and we are talking.”

Michael Farris, the Dallas lawyer representing Pedroza, said the talks have been productive.

“We’re getting closer. Whether we will get there is a serious question, but there are some serious discussions” taking place, Farris said. “We go back and forth on settlement dollar amounts.”

Maybe they can tie this one up before the appeal is filed. (Gad! We didn’t say that, did we?)

Lockheed honors top suppliers

Two Fort Worth companies were are 25 businesses selected recently as top-performing suppliers to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

InterConnect Wiring, which builds and repairs loose wire assembly kits, electrical panels and wire harnesses for F-16, F-22 and C-130 aircraft, was among the small business honored. And AMI Metals, which provides aluminum plate and sheet for various programs, was honored among large businesses.

Amy Gowder, Lockheed’s vice president of aeronautics supply chain management and chairwoman of the Lockheed Martin Supply Chain Council, said that to be considered, suppliers must maintain a 99 percent on-time delivery rating with a 100 percent quality rating.

Lockheed said the companies selected represent the top 2 percent of its 1,200 suppliers.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko