BB Land Lease and now a civil suit?

I received a letter and documents (dated 6/12) about some land I have apparently inherited. This was from BB Land wanting to lease our rights for drilling purposes. My sister also received the same thing. This is from a distant relative through my mother's side (mother died 10/14/79) - this is the first time we've heard anything about this. I emailed the lawyer back saying both my sister and I would like to gather more information before proceeding.

Last week we both received info on a civil suit being filed by BB Land, we are one of many defendants. The language is as follows:

"In the name of the state of West Virginia, you are hereby Summoned and required to serve upon William Crichton V, Counsel for Petitioner, whose address is 325 9th Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101, an answer including any related counterclaim you may have to the complaint filed against you in the above styled civil action, a true copy of which is herewith delivered to you. You are required to serve your answer within 30 days after service of this summons upon you."

We have no idea what to make of all this - any help would be appreciated!


Stephanie, this sounds like a partition suit. When there are a lot of owners of mineral rights, the way it sounds is the case with your interests, the company needs every owner to sign a lease in order to drill that area. Sometimes people just don't want to lease, sometimes they can't find the owners, sometimes the mineral owner wants better lease terms than is offered and the company won't agree to those terms.

The company sometimes files a suit to partition the minerals. Unlike land, where you could get 5 acres and I could get 5 acres of a 10 acre tract we both inherited, you can't separate out 5 acres of minerals (for example) without the surface to go with it. So they {("they" has to be somebody with an ownership, which is why companies sometimes want to buy mineral interests) sue, and if the judge agrees, usually this means that the minerals are sold at auction, and each mineral owner is paid a "fair" amount for his/her interest.

The company prefers to get leases from people instead of suing, but sometimes they start with the threat of the suit.

I can recommend 3 attorneys in the general area who have been recommended to me.

Scott Windom in Harrisville, Ritchie County, just south of Pleasants;

Dean Rohrig in Middlebourne, Tyler County, just east of Pleasants, and

Kyle Nuttall in Buckhannon, more southeast of Pleasants.

All three of these attorneys work a lot or entirely in oil and gas. Probably all 3 would give you a free phone call just to talk about things.

All can help you with leasing, and with the lawsuit. I think that if the mineral owner is actively trying to negotiate the lease, the judge will have the company wait.

Here is a link to Checklist for Negotiating and Oil and Gas Lease which somebody shared a few years ago. It will give you some ideas.

Unfortunately Pleasants County does not have any online deeds records that I know of so unless you can go to Saint Mary's, the county seat, you won't be able to do your own research. I expect all 3 of the attornies have people who could go look things up but it might get expensive.

If you go to the Ritchie County and Doddridge County groups, there have been discussions of this type of suit. It might help you to understand it better.

Please ask questions. There are people on this group who have information and are glad to share.


Well stated!!!

Thanks WVMO!

Thank you - this is really helpful Nancy!