Gerald Corder v. Antero Resources Corporation, No. 21-1715 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
These consolidated cases involve a dispute between Antero Resources Corporation (“Antero”) and a group of landowners (“Lessors”) over the payment of natural gas royalties under several oil and gas leases. The leases permit Antero to extract and sell natural gas owned by the Lessors in exchange for royalty payments. Antero appealed from the district court’s summary judgment order, which held that Antero breached the terms of the leases by deducting certain “post-production costs” from the royalties it paid Lessors and awarded damages. Lessors cross-appeal the district court’s earlier dismissal of their fraud and punitive damages claims against Antero.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment order in part and vacated in part. The court concluded that some of the leases prohibit Antero from deducting any post-production costs from Lessors’ royalties, but other leases—namely, those that contain a “Market Enhancement Clause”—do authorize deductions in certain circumstances. Separately, the court affirmed the dismissal of the fraud and punitive damages claims because Lessors did not plead them with sufficient particularity.