Energy, Utilities & Mineral Rights

Thanks to advances in hydraulic fracking, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas economy is experiencing a resurgence as a significant source of energy for not only its residents but also others throughout the United States and the world. In addition, Pennsylvania has become home to an active solar and wind energy production industry. However, between mineral rights owners, landowners, and domestic and foreign oil and gas, coal and other energy and utility companies, numerous competing interests are being governed by a vast set of laws, rules and regulations, some of which date back to the early 1800s. Consequently, it is important for those involved in energy, utility, and mineral rights matters to have knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel.

 

Our Clients

Comprised of the firm’s major practice areas, the team of attorneys in Meyer, Unkovic & Scott’s Energy, Utilities & Mineral Rights Group offer practical and creative solutions to our clients in the energy and utility-related industries.  Our clients include many entities ranging from small companies with primarily domestic operations to major companies with energy operations throughout the world.  Our clients’ operations include oil, natural gas, coal, hydro-electric, solar, and wind projects throughout the Commonwealth.  Also, we represent mineral rights owners and landowners interested in selling or leasing their oil, gas, and other subsurface interests or those who need assistance resolving disputes regarding title, royalties and payment, and other ownership and leasing issues.

Our Services

The attorneys in our Energy, Utilities & Mineral Rights Group provide legal services relating to all areas of energy, minerals and utilities law.  We are equipped to handle many legal matters, including business formations, contract and lease negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, due diligence, title review and examination, complex commercial litigation, tax and business planning, employment law issues, construction law matters, insurance coverage issues, and real property transactions and litigation. Our clients in the energy and utility-related industries know we will do our best to provide them quality legal services in a cost-effective manner.

Services Offered

  • Business and corporate formation, meeting minutes and resolution drafting, employment contract preparation, business purchases and sales, advice and document preparation regarding capital structuring, seed funding, venture capital and other commercial financing, mergers and acquisitions, and other business structuring and planning services.
  • Contract matters, including negotiation and documentation of oil and gas leases and various other energy-related contracts (e., acquisition, exploration/drilling, development, sales, storage, transportation, farmout, joint operating, administrative service and confidentiality agreements).
  • Real estate acquisition and development, residential and commercial lending and loan preparation, title work, zoning issues, and other commercial real estate services.
  • Counsel and representation regarding title policy defense, mortgage foreclosures, tax assessment appeals, condemnation, environmental contamination, and zoning litigation.
  • Business dispute resolution, including pursuit of utility collection actions and prosecution and defense of claims for breach of contract and warranties, disputes under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code or other convention or treaty, and issues involving franchise agreements and other methods of distribution.
  • Tort claim litigation, including defense of products liability, toxic torts, errors and omissions, premises liability, and general liability matters.
  • Oil and gas lease litigation, including prosecution and defense of claims for breach of lease, lease enforcement, royalties and payment, injunctive relief, specific performance, ejectment, and quiet title.
  • Construction dispute litigation, including prosecution and defense of claims involving pipelines and other transportation platforms, and mechanics’ liens.
  • Insurance coverage counsel and representation, including claims for coverage under property, commercial general liability, directors and officers, and errors and omissions insurance policies.
  • Employment law and employee benefit counsel and representation, including advice on pension, profit-sharing and 401(k) plans, and on other opportunities for executive and employee compensation.
  • Employee-related counsel and representation, including wage payment disputes, PHRC and EEOC hearings, and alleged discrimination based on race, sex, gender identity and handicap.
  • Taxation and estate and tax planning.
  • Bankruptcy and creditor rights, including defense of preference and fraudulent transfer claims.

What Makes Us Different?

  • We were named by our clients to the BTI Power Rankings 2016 as one of 17 law firms with the strongest client relationships in the energy industry.
  • Drawing on the firm’s strengths in real estate and lending, litigation, construction law, intellectual property, insurance law and tax matters, we employ an interdisciplinary approach to advising our clients on a wide range of legal issues unique to the energy and utility industries.
  • Our firm’s affiliation in Meritas gives our clients access to lawyers in mid-sized firms around the world that are flexible, accommodating, and attentive.

Representative Matters

  • Successfully struck a default judgment that had been on record for almost twenty-four years and then obtained a dismissal of the underlying quiet title action because no valid adverse possession claim was stated, which decisions were affirmed on appeal in the first published decision by a Pennsylvania appellate court on the need for production and removal in order to adversely possess subsurface oil and gas interests (Northern Forests II, Inc. v. Keta Realty Co., No. 88-02356 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pleas Lycoming County, filed May 20, 2014), aff’d 130 A.3d 19 (Pa. Super. 2015)).
  • Successfully prevented a defendant that had breached a coal supply agreement from relying upon a price renegotiation provision to lessen its liability (Allegheny Energy Supply Co., LLC v. Wolf Run Mining Co., No. GD 13-005047 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Allegheny County, filed Oct. 24, 2013), aff’d No. 1853 WDA 2013, 2015 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3903 (Pa. Super., Jan. 30, 2015)).
  • Successfully compelled arbitration of a claim brought under a stock purchase agreement for a percentage of the residual value of project equipment originally valued at $78.4 million (Francis v. FirstEnergy Corp., No. 15-673, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106716 (W.D. Pa., filed Aug. 13, 2015), reconsideration denied 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110938 (W.D. Pa., filed Aug. 21, 2015)).
  • Successfully obtained a re-trial for over $700,000 in back charges against a subcontractor engaged to relocate a gas pipeline originally rejected by the owner (Meridien Energy, LLC v. Hockran Excavating d/b/a H&H Enterprises d/b/a H&H Enterprises, Inc., No. 2009 – 10043, 34 Pa. D. & C.5th 111 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Washington County, filed Nov. 5, 2013), vacated and remanded No. 1203 WDA 2013, 2014 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2857 (Pa. Super., Jul. 23, 2014), reported at 105 A.3d 800 (Pa. Super., 2014), rehearing denied 2014 Pa. Super. LEXIS 3777 (Pa. Super., Sept. 26, 2014), appeal denied 112 A.3d 653 (Pa., Mar. 27, 2015)).
  • Successfully obtained a declaratory judgment that a parent company’s sale of its stock in a subsidiary did not trigger the consent right or right of first refusal under a natural gas and coalbed methane lease agreement and joint operating agreement (EQT Production Co. v. Range-Resources-Pine-Mountain, No. GD 11-18592 (Ct. Com. Pleas, Allegheny County, PA, filed May 9, 2012)).
  • Successfully obtained an injunction preventing a golf course from taking any action that would interfere with the utility company’s right to enter upon its easement to construct and maintain a proposed new high voltage transmission line (Duquesne Light Co. v. Longue Vue Club, No. GD 12-005491 (Ct. Com. Pleas, Allegheny County, PA, filed Jun. 13, 2012), aff’d 63 A.3d 270 (Pa. Super. 2013), appeal denied 77 A.3d 1260 (Pa. 2013)).
  • Successfully obtained an injunction to permit an oil and gas lessee to access the defendants’ properties to conduct seismic testing (EQT Production Co. v. John Opatkiewicz, No. GD 13-13489 (Ct. Com. Pleas, Allegheny County, PA, filed Dec. 26, 2013)).

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