- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A judge has barred a Texas-based attorney from contacting Chesapeake Energy Corp. royalty owners about opting out of a proposed $119 million settlement covering the company’s natural gas wells in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1JrHtWv ) reports that District Judge Jon K. Parsley issued a temporary restraining order last week against attorney Dan McDonald, saying his “advertising” campaign would disrupt the time between when the settlement is certified and the expiration period for people who are affected to opt out of or object. Chesapeake declined to comment on the order.

McDonald has been sending letters to the royalty owners asking them to opt out of the class-action lawsuit and use his firm as representation. He says his firm has not violated any rules or made misleading statements.

The firm, which has filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of royalty owners, runs a website called RoyaltyRipoff.com. McDonald believes that the $119 million settlement deal is unfair to the Chesapeake royalty owners.

“We have every right to reach out to these Chesapeake royalty owners in Oklahoma and tell them what we think about this settlement,” McDonald said. “Our view of this settlement is that it’s inadequate because it’s not enough money, and every single Chesapeake royalty owner should opt out.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by a royalty owner from Kansas who claimed the company improperly deducted marketing and other post-production expenses from royalty checks for wells in Oklahoma. The settlement was reached in January.

Terry Stowers, executive director of the Coalition of Oklahoma Surface and Mineral Owners, said it is not unusual for attorneys who are not involved in class-action lawsuits to try to persuade parties to opt out.

“There’s a whole cottage industry of attorneys who follow class-action settlements and try to get people to opt out,” Stowers said. “Personally, I’m not a big fan.”


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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