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Firm Nearing “Excellent” Settlement in Energy Price-Fixing Case

The firm has asked an Oklahoma federal judge to approve a $6.95 million deal with Chesapeake Energy Corp. and former Sandridge Energy CEO Tom Ward to settle antitrust claims filed for thousands of landowners alleging a conspiracy to fix prices on their leases.

“Coming on the heels of extensive discovery and lengthy negotiations, this settlement provides a significant recovery to class members and fully resolves the class case,” said Warren Burns, co-counsel for the plaintiffs along with the firm’s Dan Charest and Will Thompson. “We believe the settlement is an excellent result and look forward to final approval.”

The litigation, first filed in March 2016, came one day after Chesapeake’s CEO and part owner of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, Aubrey McClendon, died in a car accident. That occurred less than 24 hours after McClendon was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on allegations he’d been working with oil and gas companies between 2007 and 2012 to decide in advance the winner of land leases in order to avoid competition. A group of six plaintiffs filed the request for preliminary approval of the agreement and for certification of the class for purposes of the settlement.

“This settlement — which provides for a lump-sum cash payment of $6.95 million — represents an excellent result for the class,” the motion for approval said, adding that the settlement “reflects the strengths and weaknesses both sides viewed with their respective positions, as well as the risks associated with continuing to litigate the case.”

For more on the proposed settlement, read the Law360 article here.