Many landowners have received certified letters from Chesapeake after November of last year. All these letters have identical text, but slightly different dates. A sample of this letter is included as part of this packet. Many landowners have also received similar letters from Norse or any other gas company.
In the case of correspondence with Chesapeake, these letters make invalid claims that Chesapeake’s “interest in your Lease shall not terminate until December 31, 2013, . . . in accordance with the AOD.” This reference is to the June 12, 2012 Agreement between Chesapeake and the Office of the NY state Attorney General (AG), to settle an investigation into deceptive leasing practices. This Agreement, also known as an Assurance of Discontinuance or AOD, does NOT give the company any right to extend your lease’s primary term, if it has already expired.
These letters also make another invalid claim, in the 4th paragraph, which begins: “During the time that your Lease is extended on the grounds of force majeure arising out of the SGEIS process . . . .” Chesapeake’s claim of force majeure extension of other gas leases was unequivocally rejected by the federal court in Binghamton, on November 15, 2012, in the Aukema decision; and this claim of force majeure extension was drafted before that decision and is no longer valid.
Fleased, working with an experienced gas lease attorney, has developed a method for challenging the invalid lease extension claims in these letters: We are prepared to assist landowners in filing consumer fraud complaints with the AG’s office.
In order to assist you in this process, we need:
1. A copy of your lease
2. A copy of all correspondence with the gas company (Here is a sample)
3. A brief note giving the attorney who works with us at no charge permission to act on your behalf (“I would like attorney Joe Heath and Fleased NY to act on my behalf regarding the force majeure claim.”)
Send these items to Fleased as soon as possible.
You can send them to Renostry1@gmail.com and cc fleasedNY@gmail.com, but if you cannot get them online then sending a hard copy is acceptable. Please mail to Ellen Harrison, Fleased, 2050 Ellis Hollow Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.
By signing the form you are agreeing that Fleased and Attorney Joe Heath can make the complaint on your behalf to the Office of the AG. Upon receipt of these materials, we will work with the attorney to file the complaint on your behalf and send you a copy of the final complaint package.
It is our anticipation that either the gas company will continue to agree to file a release of lease for each complaint filed, or that the AG will understand that this is a widespread problem, amounting to a deceptive business practice, that needs a more comprehensive agreement with the company.
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