Farrar, et al. v Mobil Oil Corporation

Farrar, et al. v Mobil Oil Corporation, Case No. 01 CV 12 (Stevens County, Kansas)

Plaintiffs filed this action in 2001 against Mobil Oil Corporation (“Mobil”). After engaging in initial discovery, the parties agreed to stay the action until the district court had issued decisions in similar cases that had been filed earlier and were ready to be tried. After the district court heard the liability evidence in those cases but failed to decide any of them in a timely manner, the stay in this case was lifted and plaintiffs obtained permission to amend their petition over the objections of Mobil Mobil then attempted to remove the case to federal court. After the federal court determined that it did not have jurisdiction and the case was remanded to district court, the parties prepared for and participated in an evidentiary hearing as to whether the putative class should be certified. The trial court certified the Plaintiff Class, pursuant to K.S.A. 60-223(b)(3), on August 18, 2009, which the Court defined as: All persons or concerns owning mineral interests at any time after March 5, 1996, in lands located in the areal confines of the Kansas Hugoton Field, burdened by oil and gas leases owned in whole or in part by [Mobil] insofar as such leases are productive of gas from the base of the Panoma Council Grove Field, the gas from which has been subject to the Gathering Agreement, including the instrumentalities of the United States and federally chartered corporations, such as, but not limited to, the Farm Credit Bank of Wichita and the Federal Land Bank, but excluding the United States of America insofar as its mineral interests are managed by the Mineral Management Service. and named Keith Farrar, Thomas K. Lahey, Patricia A. Lahey and Keith Thomas Gregg as representative plaintiffs and Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, L.L.C., Wichita, Kansas, and Kramer, Nordling & Nordling LCC, LLC, Hugoton, Kansas, as counsel for the Class . Mobil then filed an interlocutory appeal which was accepted by the Court of Appeals on September 21, 2009. On June 11, 2010, the Court of Appeals issued its opinion affirming the trial court’s certification order. Farrar v. Mobil Oil Corp., 43 Kan. App. 2d 871, 234 P.3d 19 (2010). On July 12, 2010, Mobil filed its Petition for Review of the decision of the Court of Appeals. On July 26, 2010, in an attempt to avoid further delay, the Plaintiffs filed their Notice of Intent to Not File Response to Petition for Review, which urged this Court to give expedited consideration to, and promptly deny, the Petition for Review. On November 5, 2010, the Kansas Supreme Court denied Mobil’s Petition for Review. The lawsuit is now back in district court for further proceedings. In March 2011, plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment, claiming that Mobil has breached a 1984 Settlement Agreement between it and certain plaintiff class members or their predecessors in interest. On March 15, 2012, the Court granted plaintiffs’ Motion. Mobil appealed from the Court’s adverse ruling, and filed its Notice of Appeal to the Kansas Court of Appeals on March 22, 2012. In August 2011, the Court entered a Case Management Order, which establishes certain timetables preparatory to trial and a trial date of October 29, 2012. On August 16, 2012, Mobil executed a proposed settlement agreement with the representative plaintiff in Hershey v. ExxonMobil, a class action lawsuit pending in federal district court in Wichita, Kansas. That proposed settlement agreement released all of the claims in Farrar. On October 26, 2012, the federal court approved the settlement agreement and enjoined the representatives of the Farrar class and their counsel from pursuing their claims in state court, including defending the appeal filed by Mobil of the summary judgment on the 1984 settlement agreement claim and participating in the trial on the remaining claims which was set to begin in October, 2012. The order approving the settlement is now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.