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On behalf of local landowners, Coughlin & Gerhart, L.L.P.has recently filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against energy companies, Enervest Ltd. and Belden & Blake Corporation. In 1999 and 2000 these companies entered into oil and gas leases with landowners (known collectively as the "Northern Broome Association") for $3.00 per acre per year. While these 10 year leases have since expired, the companies refuse to release the landowners from these leases based upon a "force majeure" argument claiming that they cannot conduct Marcellus shale drilling. Coughlin & Gerhart, seeking a judgment on behalf of the landowners declaring that these leases have terminated by the contract terms which would allow the landowners, if they wish to do so, the ability to lease their land to other gas companies at current fair market value lease rates.

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