The defense rested Thursday on the ninth day of a jury trial of a class action
claim over alleged insufficient payments on gas production in the Fayetteville shale
by Southwestern Energy
and related parties. The case went to the jury about 2 p.m. Friday.
Proceedings resume today. Among matters pending is a motion by the defense for Judge Brian Miller
to dismiss the case, which turns on expense deductions from payments to royalty owners.
This is one of several class actions over gas payments and drew our attention
because of suggestions that a separate state court class action case produced a proposed settlement more advantage to lawyers and the gas company than to landowners. That $45 million settlement, still awaiting a final court hearing in Conway County, was said to be imperiled should the federal case go to trial. Efforts to stop it failed. The cases have similar, but not identical, classes of plaintiffs, as many as 13,000 in the state case. CORRECTION: The settlement in Conway County was pulled from consideration the day this case went to trial.
Still pending in this case, too, is a request by the plaintiffs' attorneys for the judge to impose sanctions against defense lawyers for colluding in settlement disadvantageous to damaged property owners.
UPDATE: The judge denied motions to dismiss the case and sent it to the jury about 2 p.m. Deliberations continued at 6:30 p.m. And dinner was ordered.