Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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Knickel approached Macquarie Bank about a loan to develop North Dakota oil and gas leases, providing confidential information about leased acreage that he had assembled over 10 years. Macquarie entered agreements with Knickel’s companies, LexMac and Novus. His other company, Lexar was not a party. Macquarie acquired a mortgage lien and perfected security interest in the leases and in their extensions or renewals. Royalties and confidential information—reserves reports on the acreage, seismic data, and geologic maps—also served as collateral. The companies defaulted. Because of the lack of development or production, many leases were set to expire. Knickel claims he agreed to renew only leases that included automatic extensions. Macquarie claims that Knickel promised to renew all leases serving as collateral in the names of LexMac and Novus. Upon the expiration of the leases without automatic extensions, Knickel entered into new leases in the name of Lexar, for development with LexMac and Novus, since they owned the confidential information. A foreclosure judgment entered, declaring that LexMac and Novus’s interest in the leases would be sold to satisfy the debt: $5,296,252.29,. Marquarie filed notice of lis pendens on Lexar’s leases, leased adjoining acreage, used the confidential information to find a buyer, and sold the leases at a profit of about $7,000,000. Marquarie filed claims of deceit, fraud, and promissory estoppel, and alleged that the corporate veil of the companies should be pierced to hold Knickel personally liable. The defendants counterclaimed misappropriation of trade secrets and unlawful interference with business. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on all but one claim and judgment that Macquarie had misappropriated trade secrets. View "Macquarie Bank Ltd. v. Knickel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, successors in title to land located in Arkansas, brought a declaratory judgment action in Arkansas state court against AgriBank, FCB, seeking to quiet title to oil and gas rights that AgriBank held in Plaintiffs' land. AgriBank removed the case to federal district court. The district court granted AgriBank's motion to dismiss, identifying two bases on which to do so: (1) that a regulation promulgated by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) specifically approved the sort of ownership interests held by AgriBank that Plaintiffs now attacked; and (2) that the challenge to AgriBank's oil and gas rights was based on a repealed act of Congress. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court correctly dismissed the case under its first rationale, as the reservations at issue enjoyed the FCA's approval. View "Nixon v. AgriBank, FCB" on Justia Law

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This case arose when Mirant, an energy company, sought to expand its European operations by acquiring nine power islands from General Electric. When the power island deal fell through, Mirant made payments pursuant to a guaranty and soon thereafter sought bankruptcy protection. Mirant, as debtor-in-possession, sued Commerzbank and other lenders in bankruptcy court to avoid the guaranty and to recover the funds Mirant paid pursuant to the guaranty. After Mirant's bankruptcy plan was confirmed MCAR, plaintiff, substituted into the case for Mirant. Commerzbank and other lenders, defendants, filed a motion to dismiss based on Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The district court subsequently denied defendants' motion to dismiss based on plaintiff's alleged lack of standing. Thereafter, the district court granted summary judgment for defendants. Both sides appealed. While the court agreed that the district court correctly determined that there was standing to bring the avoidance claim, the court vacated the judgment of dismissal because the district court erroneously applied Georgia state law rather than New York state law to the avoidance claim. View "MC Asset Recovery LLC v. Commerzbank A.G., et al." on Justia Law

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In this consolidated appeal, three sets of landowners asserted claims against Arrington for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment relating to Arrington's failure to pay cash bonuses under oil and gas leases. The district court granted summary judgment to the landowners on the breach of contract claims and thereafter dismissed the landowners' other claims with prejudice on the landowners' motions. The court rejected the landowners' assertion that the lease agreements could be construed without considering the language of the bank drafts; the drafts' no-liability clause did not prevent enforcement of the lease agreements; Arrington entered into a binding contract with each respective landowner despite the drafts' no-liability clause; the lease approval language of the drafts was satisfied by Arrington's acceptance of the lease agreements in exchange for the signed bank drafts and as such, did not bar enforcement of the contracts; Arrington's admitted renunciation of the lease agreement for reasons unrelated to title precluded its defense to the enforceability of its contracts; Arrington's admission that it decided to dishonor all lease agreements in Phillips County for unrelated business reasons entitled the landowners to summary judgment; there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Arrington disapproved of the landowner's titles in good faith. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claims. View "Smith, et al. v. David H. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.; Foster, Jr., et al. v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.; Hall, et al. v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc." on Justia Law