WCT Cowboy Country Ranches, L.L.C. v. Energen Resources Corporation, Plains Marketing, L.P., Plains Marketing GP, Inc., et al
April 15, 2015
AZA was hired by Plains in the defense of a $400 million trespass case in Texas’ oil-rich Permian Basin. AZA’s aggressive and creative pretrial motions stripped down this case before the first potential juror entered the courthouse.
The surface owner of a large ranch, WCT Cowboy Country Ranches, LLC, negotiated agreements with Energen Resources, the operator of oil and gas wells throughout the ranch. WCT Cowboy Country interpreted these agreements as allowing access to Energen and oil marketers like Plains only via specified private roads to certain wells. Use of the “wrong” road would cost Energen or Plains $50 to $100 per “rod” (a distance equal to 16.5 feet) for each use. Using this formula, WCT Cowboy Country claimed Plains owed more than $400 million in damages.
The case was contentious and hard-fought, with multiple depositions of executives and truck drivers and multiple court hearings in the rural town of Monahans, Texas. AZA argued pre-trial “special exceptions” that slashed the plaintiff’s damages model in half. A partial motion for summary judgment granted on the eve of trial eliminated the plaintiff’s punitive damages theory and cut the value of claims against Plains to barely more than $300,000.
Although WCT Cowboy tried to settle before trial, Plains refused. On the weekend before trial, WCT Cowboy Country gave up completely and dismissed all of its claims against Plains without Plains paying any settlement.
AZA lawyers: Tim Shelby and Jane Langdell Robinson.