America’s conversation place for mineral owners
As I had predicted I am once again having problems with ARC. This time in Ritchie County, WV.
I sent several letters to the lawyer listed as representing ARC's interests and did not hear from the ARC rep until a law suite was filed against me in Ritchie County Court. In the latest letter their lawyer quotes what I have said in letters to his office and have post on this web site. The quotes contain the questions I had about the contract.
And then the lawyer asks what questions I have!
I first became aware of the fact that I had my name on land in Ritchie county when the unsolicited contract arrived in my mailbox . As I have stated here before, first paragraph informs me I own property, second paragraph tells me to either sign the contract or be taken to court.
I noticed a mistake in the contract, it states that I am an heir to one of my uncles, but not the reality that I inherited from my mother.
My answer to the ARC court filing is due in a few days so I asked a lawyer here where I live if the contract is valid as I AM NOT the party listed as the "Lessor". I was told it does not matter!
I believe I have no legal obligation to the contract as I am not named correctly. My uncle had a life long history of marriages and "living arrangements" which left along list of ex wives and children that he conceived. They are the heirs, I am only related.
"Funny thing", when I made a small error while dealing with ARC in the neighboring county I was told I had not complied with the law and I had no legal standing. Now ARC has made the mistake and they might get away with it.
Any suggestions? rcr 4/13/2017
Here is a link to another discussion where you asked something like this. Below is my reply.
If you search my name, or even yours, I have given you several suggestions for going forward. I don't know of anything I would say differently.
In last week's Ritchie Gazette (March 29 2017) there was a legal notice with your name in it stating that you have 30 days from the posting to reply to the suit.
Time to keep calling Antero, and/or get an attorney (I gave you the information somewhere) as to whom I would recommend. His office is right there by the courthouse.
As I understand it, the companies would prefer to get you to sign a lease rather than continue with the suit. You could ask for a new lease with the correct person listed as the source of your interest (your mother, you said). The terms in the lease can be negotiated, and a good attorney such as the one I recommended has had some experience working with Antero to get leases that are reasonable. Call him.
Here is an update: I have reason to believe that the incorrect listing of my uncle came from the legal assistant who researched the Harris family for ARC. I was contacted on Ancestry.com by this person about the oldest son of this uncle. They were Senior and junior but the son had a legal name change. Seems his mis-adventures were becoming confused with those of his dad.
After several exchanges I was asked about my uncle. A few weeks later the person stated that after having put a bit of work into finding info on the son it was realized that I was related through my mother.
I am now assuming the search was for the Ritchie County WV contract, not Doddridge County.
As of Monday of this week I received from ARC's lawyers a certified mail packet containing an updated contract and another packet, not certified. One of these was triggered by my pointing out for the second time in a month that the contract stated I was an heir to my uncle.
Looks like the law firm finally realized that the (unsolicited) original contract was useless because I was not the person named as "Lessor". (Funny thing happened last week, the local VA clinic had a free law clinic and the lawyer who talked to me claimed that there was no need for new paperwork as the "mistake" had been noted by both parties. WRONG!)
Much to my surprise the new contract mentions Third Party Liability in the amendment. There was no mention in the original contract and I did figured out that it was still being forced upon me because by signing the contract i would have indicated that I was a willing "agent" (I read "business partner") of ARC in regards to the piece of land which the contract covered.
I wonder how many parties have signed that contract without realizing what sort of legal hassle they could be taking on? Honestly, with ARC's safety record for the last six years in Doddridge COunty ALONE, how many of you have faith in ARC being able to not have personal injury or accidentat death claims filed against them, your business partner?
Then came the shocker. Some of you may recall that as I was writing a message for this board I suddenly realized that I never stated I wanted to bring the gas to the surface and sell it on the open market. I was content with the gas staying where it is. But ARC approached me a stated that THEY wanted to take those actions (drilling, shipping, storage of the gas) and I would be given a royalty.
But the royalty payments would have "my share" of the costs of building the well, etc., etc. Remember me saying it was a case of "If YOU furnish the ham WE could have ham & eggs, if SOMEONE ELSE furnished the eggs"?
AT PRESENT the latest contract seems to indicate I would not have to contribute to the costs. The free legal clinic will be at the local VA in a few days and I want to run the wording past them. Please do not try this ("at home") thinking you can do why I did!
Also in the latest packet from ARC's lawyers is a statement that either I over looked in the pass or it has just been added because I have been granted these revisions. I am not to discuss the contract in public, as in on this web site. And yes, they are monitoring this site for my messages. I told them to do so!
And finally, what I just mentioned is what is considered "Good Faith". For those of you who insist that WV's Good Faith law means that by simply receiving an unsolicited contract makes you obligated to the sender WAKE UP! What you are claiming is against Federal Law.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have received notice that funds have been submitted in my name to settle the dispute in Doddridge County. The statement I received indicates that I am now needing to "command" the Doddridge County court to release said funds to me.
My question is am I required to send my written notice to the court to both the court and ARC or just a single letter to the party holding the funds?
Your answer will go back to ARC's counsel no later than 30 days after the service of the Civil Summons. At this time you and the heirs of your family are at risk of losing 0.91836735 net mineral races if you decide not lease with ARC. The minerals in total are divided to over 200 heirs and can't be partitioned. Here's were ARC can file suit against any heir not willing to lease their minerals. Your asking why do I have to lease to ARC? The simple answer is the total net minerals can not be developed if heirs don't agree to lease with some energy company. In this case ARC is the developing energy company. Many legal items go with Oil and Gas Exploration to include: Land Leasing (Surface) and Mineral Leasing (Sub-Surface). My advice to you and the your heirs is to review the leasing document decide what leasing bonus and percent is fair - 12% to 15% is fair market for mineral leasing. Remember this is a non-producing field and will take years to develop. The first 5 year lease will be under a non-developed oil/gas field. Once developed and producing your family will be paid royalties under the agreed lease. If you do not sign the lease the courts will most likely grant an allotment of all unleased minerals in favor of ARC and allot or sell the minerals in question.
You said a lot but did not address the issue at hand. Why do I have to lease to ARC? You responded to that as if I actually wanted to bring the gas to the surface and place it on the market, I really DO NOT CARE if the gas is left under the property. If someone wants it then it is As is, where it is. Why should I pay someone to come in an take the steps needed to put the gas on the market??? Face reality, just how "rich" is someone going to get by owning mineral rights a whopping 24.5 acres along with 264 other people? Maybe I have an advantage, I was listed as having ownership of an unassigned .5 acres of ground. Round the corner from where I live there is a vacant lot with a sign stating that .5 acre of ground was for sale. The foot print of my house is larger then that and it would take a lot of vertical height of a gas pocket to make the royalty for the gas amount to more then a few dollars! This contract is a farce and I have no time to deal with ARC! IF this were a legal, "level playing field" ARC would not want to keep the owners from contacting one an other, divide and conquer with ARC making all the gains. If the other co owners want to join ARC then let the other co owners buy my share! ARC IS NOT going to allow that! No, ARC shouts, "Roll over and sign the lease or we will take you to court and have the judge take the property away from you (so that we can buy it and in doing so have more control of the other co owners)".
I know that there is no real money coming in if I agree to ARC's terms (which they are making certain I either will or they will obtain my share of the property). As you state, the production from that property is years in the future. So why bother with the ownership of an unassigned .5 acres of West Virginia dirt????
Add to that the safety record of ARC in Doddridge County, WV during the last 5+ years. Do I want to be that party's "agent" ? After reviewing the safety record of ARC I have decided they are undesirable tenants for any land that carries my name. ARC is an unwanted business partner!
So ARC, not in accordance to the WV laws they state in their exchanges with me, asks the court to do something the WV laws dictates is NOT legal. They tell me they will go to court and ask the judge to force me to sell, if that doesn't work they ask the judge to have the county seize the land and sell it on the courthouse steps. But no, what they did was go to court and ask the judge to hand over the property to them. No one waiting on the court house steps gets to bid. ARC is happy that once again it stretches WV law and got by with it.
However, I have yet to find out who I am suppose to "command" the release of the funds that ARC was ordered to deposit in the names of the non-signers. No address, no titles, nothing has been provided to me. That is not in good faith of WV laws.
And while I am at it, I read in the legal papers that the owners of the land and being prevented by me from enjoyments of their holdings. No, it is ARC who is preventing that because they refused to communicate with me in regards to legit issues over the wording of the contract. The same corporation allows their legal rep to modify a contract to eliminate the problems that ARC would not discuss with me.
Care to try to explain why in one county the contract that ARC demands i sign states that by signing I become an agent of ARC and therefore have to let ARC with hold from my royalties to pay for the construction/operation of the well, while the contract in the county "next door" was amended to state that NOTHING would be removed from my royalty? Two faced ARC!
I asked that question in the original post which at the time I can read above where I am typing this. Remember, ARC states that I had inherited a share of the property back in 1967 but I was not informed that I had partial ownership until the first unsolicited contract from ARC came to my door. No one asked if I wanted the property, no one asked if I wanted to bring the gas to the surface and sell it on the open market. But that did not suit ARC's plan.
Instead I had phone calls from an ARC rep that within seconds I labeled a jerk and decided I had NO Interest in any company that would have him to be their rep. That and the wording of the unsolicited contract were "strike one" and "strike two". They could have offered to purchase my holdings and the sale would have been made years ago. End of that legal problem for me with ARC.
As I stated so many times, I am/was not the party that was delaying the contract and thereby preventing the others from the enjoyment of their holdings, it was ARC!
Oh! In regards to the Ritchie contract: The corporation lawyers are a bit "forgetful'. They send the unsolicited contract which told me to contact them if there was questions. They do not reply for months, and then only after I received notice from the court did I receive any communications. The amendments to that contract were made and I received a new contract. with the amendments on a separate piece of paper. But no file copy for my records!
What lawyer forgets to send the file copy with the contract??? One that if I had returned the sign contract would "somehow" loose the separate page with the agreed amendments.
As I have mentioned on this site before, the lawyer and I were talking over the phone and he asked why 264 people had signed the contract so why won't I? Answer: They are idiots! Think about it...
Not to get long winded here, but the one point your failing to realize is that you aren't the sole owner of these minerals. That's why a law suit has been filed against you and other heirs that refuse to sign leases with ARC. No you don't have to lease to ARC! However, because you don't hold 100% ownership of the minerals in question you are denying other heirs the full benefit of their mineral estate. The bottom line is you will lose the rights to these minerals if you don't comply to the leasing agreement.
One point that you do not realize is that I am well aware that the contract forces me to become involved in an "action" of which I want no part! Not one of the other co owners have contacted me to determine why the hold up or offer to purchase my "share" of the property that I never asked for, and do not want! The people who signed the contract without question most not have taken the time to realize what they were getting into. I DO KNOW the legal and financial problems that comes with leasing a shared ownership property to a party like ARC. It is not a way "to get rich", it is a way to loose EVERYTHING you own and it is not worth the risk! rcr 4/22/2017 (I'm leaving the keyboard now in hopes of trying to get something worth while done today)
Than take action to sell them! I'm sure many of the heirs are more than willing to give you fair market value. In fact, its far better that the heirs purchase the minerals than lose them to ARC! Its all up to you...
I have stated that several times on this site. The rest of the property co-owners had signed the lease months before it was realized I had inherited part of the property. Only one of the co-owners have contacted me in three years.
I did not know who the other owners were, or how many involved until Antero sent the court papers. Even the names of my first cousins I found on the list were of little use as we have not had contact since the mid-1970's.
Antero managed to steer the others away from what they should have done after receiving the contracts from ARC, They should have organized as a common interest group and based their decisions on the the majority of the group thought best, made offers for the property held by those who refused to sign. ARC did not want that as they gained more by working on the co owners one at a time, "divide and conquer".
But no, the involved Harris family is the type that never give the thought to working together, they tend to work against each other.
I came to this site trying to find some of the listed co owners to find out why they signed a contract where they would take on Third Party Liability by agreeing to the contract. Of those who refused to sign I note that one is a lawyer.
I can not help to notice in your addressing this subject that you use some of the same terms as ARC, You mentioned my preventing the others from enjoying the benefits they would receive. Exactly what ARC states in their complaints to the court. In today's post you again display wording that I read and obtain the idea you are an agent of ARC.
What's that old saying, "If 60 people jumped off a bridge to there death why don't you?" In this case it was more like 200+ signed a contract without question, why don't you?"
Because I have experience and am not blinded by $$$
Why don't you just sell your share to anyone and then you don't have this mess. Sounds like you just wanting to fight the oil company.
It's like a person buying a car, you want the whole car like the oil company wants the whole minerals. But you are keeping one of the tires, does that make sense?????