The Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. (Munsch Hardt) energy litigation group has secured a significant jury trial win on behalf of landowner clients Buzzard Roost Farms, Inc. and C&L Solutions, Inc. (or, the “Landowners”) against a major West Texas Operator (or, the “Operator”). The Final Judgment was entered on July 20, 2023.
The Landowners and Operator disagreed over the interpretation of the right of first refusal in their surface use agreement related to the drilling of a saltwater disposal well. After a weeklong trial, the jury agreed with the Landowners and found that the Operator had violated the terms of the right of first refusal by failing to give the Landowners the option to have a saltwater disposal placed on the Landowners’ property. In addition to awarding more than $13 million in actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and other related fees, the Court also declares that the Operator must abide by the right of first refusal at issue so long as the Operator continues to use the Landowners’ property and offer the Landowners the opportunity to have any future saltwater disposal that the Operator chooses to drill within five miles of the Landowners’ lands be placed on the Landowners’ lands. This outcome not only compensates the Landowners for the Operators’ known misconduct, but also provides significant legal recourse and protection for the Landowners going forward while the Operator continues to use the Landowners’ land.
The Munsch Hardt trial team on this case was Shareholder Fred Wahrlich, and associate Liza Eoff with ongoing support from other members of the energy litigation group, including Shareholder Todd Frank; Senior Attorney Carrie Schadle; and Associates Casey Minnes Carter, and Nathan Vrazel.