WHEELING — A man is suing Tug Hill Operating LLC for failing to an oil and gas well on his property.
Daniel Bezilla claims he entered into a contract with Tug Hill in 2007 for his 182-acre property where he would be the owner of the oil and gas rights and Tug Hill would be the lessee of the working interest rights in the lease, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Tug Hill has had 11 years to develop wells on Bezilla's property but only developed one vertical well in those 11 years, according to the suit.
Bezilla claims surrounding properties owned by his neighbors are better developed with horizontal wells.
Tug Hill breached its implied duty under the lease, according to the suit, and Bezilla believes he has lost royalties due to the breach.
Bezilla claims West Virginia recognizes the implied covenant to develop and that Tug Hill is bound by that implied covenant to develop the property after drilling a productive well.
Bezilla is seeking damages for lost royalties in the amount of $15,288,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $76,440,000. He is represented by Kyle Nuttall of Nuttall Legal in Buckhannon.
The case was originally filed in Wetzel Circuit Court and removed to federal court in December.
In the notice of removal, Tug Hill's attorneys claim the case should be in federal court because the amount in controversy exceeded the jurisdictional threshold, which is $75,000.
Tug Hill also asserted there is complete diversity between Bezilla and the company. It claims because Tug Hill and Bezilla are residents of different states, the case should be in federal court.
Tug Hill is represented by Thomas C. Ryan and Emily C. Weiss of K&L Gates LLP in Pittsburgh, Penn.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Case number: 5:18-cv-00198