The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

March 8, 2014

Judge: Drilling suit has enough details

MERCER COUNTY — A Mercer County judge said recently that the claims against an oil and gas drilling company filed by Mercer County landowners can move forward.

Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel P. Wallace noted it still is early and things could change as more information is developed, but he turned aside Halcon Energy Properties’ claims that the suit was legally insufficient to support two counts, and that one count was duplicative of another.

The suit initially was filed Nov. 6, 2012, and pits Jeffry S. Vodenichar of Butler, David M. King Jr. and Leigh V. King of Sandy Lake and Joseph B. and Lauren E. Davis of Stoneboro, all of whom own land in New Vernon Township; Grove City Country Club of Pine Township and Richard Broadhead of Polk, who owns land in Sandy Lake Township, against Halcon and Morascyzk and Polochak, Bridgeville; and Co-eXprise Inc., Wexford.

M&P and Co-eXprise marketed the landowners’ interests to oil and gas companies in return for a fee from the bonuses paid to property owners.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, alleges Halcon entered into contracts to lease up to 60,000 acres of oil and gas rights in Mercer County, the so-called “Mt. Jackson 4 – Stoneboro Group,” agreeing to pay $3,850 an acre and a royalty of 18.5 percent on the fossil fuels pulled from wells.

As part of the agreement with landowners, Halcon had no discretionary right to refuse to lease unless there was a problem with the property’s title or specified “other defect,” the suit said.

According to the plaintiffs, Halcon rejected a large number of leases without specifying reasons and, in many cases, without even doing title searches.

Halcon has flatly rejected the argument, saying it had “the absolute right to refuse to lease the plaintiffs’ properties.”

Halcon also has charged M&P and Co-eXprise with fraud for allegedly modifying contract documents and misleading landowners.

M&P and Co-eXprise agreed with the landowners that Halcon improperly reneged on the contracts, but maintained they did nothing wrong.

In its preliminary objections to the suit, Halcon alleged a count for declaratory relief duplicated a count of breach of contract, but Wallace said he found the two separate counts to be proper.

Halcon also argued that a count of intentional interference with contractual relations does not have enough specifics to pass muster.

Wallace ruled that the count has enough detail “to allow ... Halcon to prepare a defense.”

Wallace added that he is not saying, for instance, that a breach of contract occurred, only that the landowners have “pleaded facts that, if deemed true, would be actionable.”

He added that, while it is too early to say whether Halcon could be assessed punitive damages, it also is too early to say they could not.

Barring any additional filings challenging the sufficiency of the suit, Halcon will not have to file a formal answer to the allegations.

Text Only
Local News
  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014

  • Boy ‘was being starved’

    A 7-year-old Greenville boy described as looking like a human skeleton had been starved and beaten by his mother for a year, authorities are saying.

    July 19, 2014

  • Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

    The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

    July 18, 2014

  • GACT’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ opens tonight at Thiel

    Beauty parlor gossip, southern drawls and big hair may sound out of place for Mercer County, but it’s very much a real scene in Thiel College’s William Robinson Theater.

    July 18, 2014

  • Police seek hit-and-run driver who struck boy

    A boy riding a Mongoose bike on Second Avenue in Sharon Thursday evening was struck straight on by a truck whose driver never hit the brakes or looked back, witnesses said.

    July 18, 2014