CLARKSBURG — EQT Corp. agreed to a settlement in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging it wasn't fully paying gas royalty payments.
EQT agreed to pay $53.5 million into a settlement fund for the class members, according to a settlement agreement filed Feb. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
"EQT is working diligently to resolve this matter with our leaseholders and earn their confidence, as well as that of other West Virginia residents and community leaders," EQT CEO Robert McNally said in a statement provided to The West Virginia Record. "This was an opportunity to turn over a new leaf in our relationship with our West Virginia leaseholders and this mutually beneficial agreement demonstrates our renewed commitment to the state of West Virginia."
The settlement does not mean EQT is admitting any wrongdoing, fault, violation of law, breach of contract or liability of any kind, according to the agreement.
There will be a minimum amount of $200 paid to each class participant. The claims administrator will multiply each lessor's percentage times the net amount to find each of the class participants' proportionate shares of the settlement.
A summary notice will also be published in 19 West Virginia newspapers as one-fourth page advertisements to alert class members of the settlement.
The court entered into a preliminary approval of the class action settlement on Feb. 13.
The lawsuit was first filed against EQT in 2013 in Doddridge Circuit Court and was removed to federal court. The plaintiffs alleged EQT wrongfully shorted them on gas royalty payments beginning in 2009.
The settlement says the class members include royalty payments from 2009 until 2017.
The plaintiffs are represented by Marvin W. Masters of The Masters Law Firm; and Michael W. Carey of Carey, Scott, Douglas & Kessler.
EQT is represented by Jonathan M. Lushko, the general counsel and senior vice president of EQT.
The settlement still needs a final approval from District Judge John Preston Bailey.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Case number: 1:13-cv-00151