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Baker v. Anschutz Exploration Corp.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 25, 2013

JASON BAKER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ANSCHUTZ EXPLORATION CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

Tate Kunkle, Esq., Napoli, Bern, Ripka & Associates, LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiffs.

Christopher D. Thomas, Nixon Peabody LLP, Rochester, NY. Michael J. Guzman, Esq., Michael Mulvania, Esq., Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel PLLC, Washington, DC, for Defendant Anschutz Exploration Corporation.

Marc Jason Shanker, Esq., Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, New York, NY, for Defendant Pathfinder Energy Services, Inc.

DECISION AND ORDER

CHARLES J. SIRAGUSA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This case, which was removed from New York State Court, and in which Plaintiffs complain of environmental damage resulting from Defendants' gas and oil drilling, is before the Court on six motions. The pending motions are as follows:

(1) Conrad Geoscience Corp.'s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, March 24, 2011, ECF No. 6;

(2) Plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court, April 8, 2013, ECF No. 20;

(3) Pathfinder Energy Services, LLC's[1] motion for joinder of defendant Anschutz Exploration Corporation's motion, ECF No. 85, to preclude Plaintiffs' expert report, December 20, 2012, ECF No. 86;

(4) Pathfinder Energy Services, LLC's motion for joinder of defendant Anschutz Exploration Corporation's opposition to Plaintiff's cross-motion to modify scheduling order and reply in support of Defendants' motion to preclude Plaintiff's expert report, January 16, 2013, ECF No. 93; and

(5) Defendants' motion to strike and/or dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 16(f) and 37(b), April 22, 2013, ECF No. 102.

For the reasons stated below, ECF Nos. 6, 20, 86, and 93 are denied as moot, and ECF No. 102 is denied on the merits.

BACKGROUND

The Court assumes as true all the factual allegations in the complaint for the purpose of deciding the pending motions. According to the complaint, the fifteen plaintiffs are landowners in the Town of Horseheads, County of Chemung, New York.

Defendants are engaged in the business of oil and/or natural gas exploration, production and storage activities in New York. Anschutz Exploration Corporation ("Anschutz") is a Delaware corporation doing business in New York. It operates wells, referred to as Dow 1 and Dow 2[2], in or near Big Flats, New York. Pathfinder Energy Services, LLC ("Pathfinder") is a Louisiana corporation doing business in New York.

Defendants engaged in drilling activities at Dow 1 Well and Dow 2 Well, both of which are in close proximity to the properties owned by Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs rely on ground water wells for their drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and other uses of water. In or about October 2009, agents of Anschutz attempted to obtain lease agreements from each Plaintiff. Plaintiffs were told that they should sign the lease agreements,

because their properties would be drilled underneath anyway and they may as well receive the royalties. Plaintiffs were also told if they signed the lease they would receive 15% royalties, but if they did not sign they would receive 13.5% royalties. Anschutz further represented that plaintiffs would never know anything ...

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