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Aukema Decision 101512

Aukema Decision 101512

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Published by The Post-Standard

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Published by: The Post-Standard on Nov 15, 2012
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTNORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -DOUGLAS AUKEMA; PATRICIA A. AUKEMA;JESSE BARNHART; CHARITY A. BARNHART;SCOTT H. BODINE; CONNIE M. BODINE; ANTHONY BURCHELL; CYNTHIA BURCHELL;GARY W. BURCHELL; CLIFFORD CASTLINE; ALICE CASTLINE; BRUCE T. COOK; AMY M.COOK; GAIL P. FISHER; DOUGLAS GREENE;HERBERT A. HIBBARD; DANIEL L. HIBBARD;MARY B. HIBBARD; AUGUST HIEMSTRA;LESLIE J. HIEMSTRA; JOHN P. HRICIK; SUSIE A. HRICIK; STELLA HRICIK; STEFANJAKUBOWSKI; JADWIGA JAKUBOWSKI;JAMES P. KEESLER; ELIZABETH F. KEESLER;JOSEPH W. KELLICUTT; DORLEENKELLICUTT; MICHAEL J. KELLICUTT; SUSANKELLICUTT; ROBERT D. KUZEL; CHERYL A.KUZEL; CHARLES W. LEE; SUSAN F. LEE;GARY A., LEE; MARY S. LEE; EDDIE W.MASLIN; CAROL M. MASLIN; PIETROMAUCERI; GUISEPPINA MAUCERI; JARRETTD. NEWBY; NANCYJ. NEWBY; ORRIN G.PENDELL; EDWARD RUTKOWSKI; DONNARUTKOWSKI; DAVID W. SCHAEFFER; JOANP. SCHAEFFER; GARY L. SMITH; KIM SMITH;DOROTHY SMITH; NORMAN J. SWEENEY;RUTH A. SWEENEY; DANIEL J. WILLIAMS;CHARITY J. WILLIAMS,Plaintiffs,-v-3:11–CV–00489CHESAPEAKE APPALACHIA, LLC andSTATOILHYDRO USA ONSHOREPROPERTIES, INC.,Defendants.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Case 3:11-cv-00489-DNH-ATB Document 78 Filed 11/15/12 Page 1 of 24
 
 APPEARANCES:OF COUNSEL:LEVENE GOULDIN & THOMPSON, LLPCYNTHIA ANN MANCHESTER, ESQ. Attorneys for PlaintiffsP.O. Box F-1706Binghamton, NY 13902450 Plaza Drive MARIA E. LISI-MURRAY, ESQ.Vestal, NY 13850SCOTT R. KURKOSKI, ESQ.THE WEST FIRM, LLPTHOMAS S. WEST, ESQ. Attorneys for Defendant Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC677 Broadway8th Floor  Albany, NY 12207FULBRIGHT & JAWORSKI L.L.P.DAVID L. BARRACK, ESQ. Attorneys for Defendant Statoilhydro JEREMY A. MERCER, ESQ.USA Onshore Properties, Inc.MARK A. ROBERTSON, ESQ.370 Southpointe Boulevard, Suite 300 L. POE LEGGETTE, ESQ.Canonsburg, PA 15317DAVID N. HURDUnited States District Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDERI. INTRODUCTION
Plaintiffs Douglas and Patricia A. Aukema and other landowners (collectively
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"plaintiffs") brought this declaratory judgment action against Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC("Chesapeake") and Statoilhydro USA Onshore Properties, Inc. ("Statoil") (collectively"defendants") seeking a declaration that certain oil and gas leases entered into between theparties expired at the conclusion of the primary terms of those leases and that the terms
There are fifty five named plaintiffs in this action, many of whom are husband and wife. For brevity,
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all fifty five plaintiffs named in the caption will not be repeated here.- 2 -
Case 3:11-cv-00489-DNH-ATB Document 78 Filed 11/15/12 Page 2 of 24
 
have not been extended by payment or force majeure. See Am. Compl.. Plaintiffs also
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charge defendants with violating New York General Business Law section 349. Id.Defendants assert counterclaims seeking a declaration that the leases were extended due toforce majeure events and the tender of payments.Plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment declaring that the leases have expiredand directing defendants to file a release of the leases in accordance with New York GeneralObligations Law section 15–304. Defendants opposed plaintiffs' motion and cross-moved for summary judgment declaring that the leases were extended and are in full force and effect,and dismissing plaintiffs' amended complaint. Plaintiffs opposed defendants' motion andreplied in support of their motion. Defendants replied in support of their motion.Defendants also moved to strike the reply affidavit of plaintiff's expert David W. Keefe,dated August 16, 2012. Plaintiffs opposed.Oral argument was heard on August 30, 2012, in Utica, New York. Decision wasreserved.
II. BACKGROUNDA. Oil and Gas Industry in New York State
Gas drilling in New York State is governed by the Environmental Conservation Law.Under the authority of that statute, the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"),N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law section 8–0101, was passed "to inject environmentalconsiderations directly into governmental decision making." City Council of Watervliet v.
The amended complaint also requests a declaratory judgment, "as to those leases which have not
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yet reached the end of their primary terms, that all such leases have not been extended to the present date." Am. Compl. at 23. At the time the amended complaint was filed on September 2, 2011, only one lease hadnot yet reached the expiration of its primary term—a lease entered into by plaintiffs Joseph W. and DorleenKellicutt. Absent extension, that lease expired on September 5, 2011. Therefore this request is now moot.- 3 -
Case 3:11-cv-00489-DNH-ATB Document 78 Filed 11/15/12 Page 3 of 24

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