Monday, October 3, 2011
Chief Gathering LLC sues Pennsylvania residents over anti-pipeline tactics
DALLAS TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A natural gas pipeline company fired back against Goodleigh Estates residents, alleging their interference with and public anger toward the company's Dallas Township pipeline project could cost millions of dollars - money the company wants the residents to make up.
In the 143-page suit filed in federal court on Sept. 22, Dallas, Texas-based Chief Gathering LLC is seeking a minimum of $683,000 from William E. and Patricia Watkins and Jeffrey and Jo Ann Dickson, claiming a delay they could cause will lead to losses of at least $18 million.
The company also wants to recover attorneys' fees and charge extra damages for residents' "outrageous conduct" and keep them and others from making malicious statements about Chief in the media and in online social forums.
The action is in response to a lawsuit filed in Luzerne County court on Sept. 20 by the Watkinses and Dicksons against their neighbor Tuula D'Anca, who leased Chief a right-of-way through her Goodleigh Farms property. They asked the court to halt the pipeline construction, alleging it violates the development's covenants, creates a nuisance and potential danger. Chief was not included in the suit.
D'Anca and Goodleigh Estates residents Patrick and Patricia Dougherty, who also leased rights-of-way, are named in Chief's suit, but only in an action asking the court to make a judgment as soon as possible in order to proceed with the project.
"Chief doesn't comment on pending litigation, but I can confirm the lawsuit was filed," stated Kristi Gittins, vice president of public affairs for Chief Oil & Gas. "We feel legal action is necessary to protect our interests in the pipeline project."
According to the suit, which was filed by attorneys Ken Komoroski, L. Poe Leggette and Emily B. Thomas of Fulbright & Jaworski and Jeffrey Malak of Chariton, Schwager & Malak: For the past 22 months, Chief sought permits and rights-of-way - including 30 in Dallas Township - for a 24-inch pipeline from natural gas wells in Susquehanna County to connect to the Transco interstate pipeline in Dallas Township via a metering station. It is "one of the largest and most important projects Chief Gathering has ever undertaken."