In a case of first impression, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law does not regulate the conduct of natural gas companies in purchasing mineral rights from landowners. In 2015, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office asserted civil claims under the consumer protection statute against MBK’s client Chesapeake Energy on behalf of private landowners who entered into oil and gas leases with Chesapeake. The Supreme Court found that the acquisition of mineral estates by natural gas companies was beyond the reach of the Unfair Trade Practices statute which was enacted to protect consumers. Finding that the plain language of the statute controls, the Court rejected the Attorney General’s interpretation which would have rendered the statute applicable to any commercial transaction. The Court ruled that the “statute simply does not regulate buyer’s conduct in commercial transactions.” Dan Brier and Donna Walsh led the MBK team effort throughout the protracted litigation. Dan argued the case in the Trial Court, the Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for Chesapeake.
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