The firm won a jury trial for Southwestern Energy Company in a significant federal class action in Little Rock, Arkansas. On behalf of 12,000 landowners, the class representative sued Southwestern and certain of its subsidiaries, alleging breach of contract, fraud, violation of the state Deceptive Trade Practices Act, unjust enrichment, conspiracy, and other royalty-related statutory claims arising out of an alleged scheme to underpay royalties relating to natural gas production. The class sought actual damages of about $100 million and double punitive damages.
On June 16, after a two-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the jury returned a verdict for defendants on all liability and damages claims.
The trial went forward despite an earlier $45 million settlement of a parallel state-court class action against Southwestern, which was forced to withdraw from the class settlement in light of the federal trial.
Paul Yetter, who serves as lead defense counsel, commented, “We are pleased to defend our good client Southwestern in this important matter. Very few class actions ever go to trial before a jury, and even fewer result in a complete defense verdict. This is a wonderful and well-deserved result for Southwestern, which validates its practices and people in developing the landmark Fayetteville Shale gas play.”