Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, No. 12-1790 (4th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit against Chesapeake seeking an injunction and damages based on claims arising from the drilling and operation by Chesapeake of three natural gas wells on surface property owned by plaintiffs. Chesapeake owns lease rights to minerals beneath plaintiffs' surface property and the property rights of both parties ultimately flowed from two severance deeds that originally split the surface and mineral estates of the 101 acres of land plaintiffs owned. The only issue on appeal was whether the district court erred when it granted summary judgment for Chesapeake on plaintiffs' claim for common law trespass. The court concluded that the district court was correct to hold that creating drill waste pits was reasonably necessary for recovery of natural gas and did not impose a substantial burden on plaintiffs' surface property, that creation of the pits was consistent with Chesapeake's rights under its lease, was a practice common to natural gas wells in West Virginia, and consistent with requirements of applicable rules and regulations for the protection of the environment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.