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Parts of lawsuit against drillers dismissed

September 29, 2012
By DEANNE JOHNSON - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

LISBON - Several parts of a lawsuit involving Chesapeake Exploration were dismissed last week, including parts of the lawsuit against a local man accused of notary fraud and slander.

Roger, Carolyn, James and Bruce Starkey of Mechanicstown in Carroll County filed a lawsuit against Patriot Energy Partners of Lisbon, PEP Leasing of Lisbon, Andrew and Thomas Blocksom of Lisbon, and Robert Dickey of Lisbon. The lawsuit alleges they are involved in some fashion with Patriot Energy and/or helping secure mineral rights leases from the Starkeys on behalf of Patriot Energy.

Also named as defendants are Buckeye Oil Producing Co. of Wooster, Bass Energy of Fairlawn, Wimsatt Family of Paris, Sonata Investment Co. of Columbus, and Chesapeake Exploration because all may have an interest in the leased property.

The lawsuit alleged the company engaged in questionable business practices to obtain the leases for only a fraction of what they were really worth and then sold the leases to other companies for significantly more money. The Starkeys also wanted more than $1 million in damages.

In the ruling by Judge Richard D. Reinbold Jr., visiting judge in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, several parts of the lawsuit were dismissed. First, any claims of notary fraud or notary irregularities were dismissed, except for the rights of the plaintiffs to challenge whether Dickey properly notarized or had the right to notarize the plaintiff's leases. The ruling declares the plaintiffs may not argue any notary improprieties is in itself fraud.

Additionally, any assertion of slander was dismissed as well as any assertion Dickey committed fraud by not having a license. The claim of unjust enrichment was also dismissed. Finally, the question of quieting the title was dismissed.

The case will continue with a trial on Oct. 9 with several claims still to be determined including those dealing with fraudulent concealment and inducement, as well as civil conspiracy. Additionally the claim of a breech of contract by Chesapeake Exploration will continue.



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