CLARKSBURG – The plaintiffs in consolidated lawsuits originally filed in 2012 have filed an appeal because they believe the federal court erred in its ruling.
The appellants claim the appellees failed to establish the numerosity requirement for mass action jurisdiction and also failed to establish that the claim of each appellant satisfied the amount in controversy requirement, according to the brief filed April 9 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The district court also erred in dismissing the appellants' slander of title claims, according to the brief.
"Appellees mischaracterize Appellants' argument seeking reversal of the district court's ruling that appellants' slander of title claims were time-barred," the brief states. "Appellees claim that appellants argue that application of the discovery rule tolled the running of the statute of limitations on appellants' slander of title claim."
The appellants claim this is not the case.
"Appellants argue that reversal of the district court's ruling that appellants' slander of title claims are time barred is required because the district court failed to undertake the five-step analysis to determine whether an action is time-barred under West Virginia law as mandated by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in Dunn v. Rockwell ..."
The appellants asked that the case either be sent back to state court to federal court for trial.
The appellants, who own minerals that cover more than 7,500 acres, claim the landmen who negotiated their leases wrongly did so.
The gas companies argue the federal court was correct and that the case was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.
The 129 Preston County mineral owners sued three natural gas development companies, Magnum Land Services LLC, Belmont Resources LLC and Enerplus Resources (USA) Corporation in 2012, alleging that the defendants fraudulently swayed them to sign gas leases that were thousands of dollars below their true value in 2007 and 2008.
The cases were assigned to District Judge Irene Keeley when in federal court.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit case number: 14-2239