Pennaco Energy, Inc. v. SorensonAnnotate this Case
Pennaco Energy Inc. acquired mineral leases beneath a surface estate owned by Brett Sorenson, Trustee of the Brett L. Sorenson Trust. A surface damage and use agreement between the parties granted Pennaco access to and use of the land for exploration and production of minerals, and, in return, required Pennaco to pay for the damage to and use of the surface estate, and to reclaim the land once operations ended. When Pennaco refused to perform its obligations under the contract, Soreson brought this lawsuit. The jury rendered a verdict finding that Sorenson suffered more than $1 million in damages. The district court entered judgment on the jury’s verdict and also awarded Sorenson costs and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by (1) ruling that Pennaco remained liable under the surface damage and use agreement after assignment, and (2) using a 2.5 multiplier to enhance the lodestar amount in awarding attorney fees.