Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Pa. Environmental Hearing Board Tosses First Utica Conservation Act Applications

By Russell L. Schetroma and Nathaniel I. Holland | Hilcorp Energy Company filed the first application for spacing orders under Pennsylvania's 1960s vintage Oil and Gas Conservation Law affecting Utica shale operations with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) on July...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Asbestos Suits Against Employers Now Permitted In Pennsylvania In Some Situations

By James J. A. Mulhall | The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Western Division, issued an extremely important decision on November 22, 2013 in the Tooey and Landis holding [ enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers ]. The consolidated appeals involved asbestos lawsuits against employers when...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: FMLA Misstep Proves Costly to Energy Employer

By Lindsay M. Bouffard An oil and gas support services company recently paid more than $43,000 in back wages and agreed to reinstate a terminated employee after a Department of Labor (DOL) investigation revealed the company terminated an employee in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Ohio Pipeline Safety Rules Under Review

By Katerina E. Milenkovski and Kurt L. rieger The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) kicked off its 5-year review process of the Pipeline Safety Rules in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4901:1-16 by holding a public workshop on January 16, 2014 to take input from the regulated community about...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: FERC Electric Transmission Line Rate Incentives Affirmed

By Kurt L. Krieger On January 24, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a 2012 order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) denying rehearing of a 2008 order granting rate incentives to an electric utility for various transmission projects...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Court Excludes Causation Expert’s Opinion, Tosses Chemical Exposure Case

By Devin C. Daines A recent Pennsylvania Superior Court decision illustrates the importance of ensuring that a medical expert’s opinions meet the minimum threshold for admissibility. As in most toxic exposure cases, this crucial step can often be the difference between an early win for the defendant...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: OSHA: Coming to a Drilling Site Near You

By Lindsay M. Bouffard and David E. Dick In an effort to reduce fatalities in the oil and gas industry, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) created an Oil and Gas Regional Emphasis Program . This program, implemented in 2012, applies to all worksites in Texas, among other states....

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: FERC Takes Further Action to Promote Gas and Electric Industry Coordination

B y Kurt L. Krieger On March 20, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued three separate but related items as part of FERC’s ongoing efforts to address gas and electric industry coordination issues arising from the increased reliance on natural gas for electricity...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Court Ruling a Victory for Kentucky Pipeline Eminent Domain Opponents

By J. Kevin West On March 25, 2014, a Circuit Court in Kentucky ruled in favor of those opposed to an interstate natural gas liquids (“NGLs”) pipeline’s potential use of eminent domain under the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The interstate pipeline is not subject to regulation...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Ohio Court Favors Surface Owner in Dormant Mineral Act Ruling

Walker v. Noon was recently decided by the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals. Walker is noteworthy because it is the first appellate level decision addressing the automatic reversion provision under the 1989 version of the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (ODMA) [ enhanced version available to lexis.com...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: False Billing Leads To Record Settlement In Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Case

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia has announced a record $4.675 million settlement with a medical lab for false billings to Medicare and to West Virginia Medicaid. R. Booth Goodwin, of Charleston, WV, said in his press release that Calloway Laboratories of Woburn,...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Physicians in Whistleblower Suits Need Not Exhaust Peer Review Remedies

A recent decision of the California Supreme Court removed a long-standing procedural limitation on physician suits against hospitals arising from peer review actions. In the recent decision, the California Supreme Court held that a physician need not exhaust hospital-based or judicial remedies before...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Court Vacates FERC ‘Demand Response’ Final Rule

By Kurt L. Krieger On May 23rd, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a final rule of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) which sought to incentivize electricity customers to reduce electricity consumption when economically efficient. The...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Mineral Lessees Have Surface Rights Across Non-Producing Pooled Tracts

By Christina A. Denmark, Of Counsel, and Russell L. Schetroma, Member On June 20, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court held that a mineral lessee has the right to use a road to cross the surface of non-producing pooled tracts. This decision is critical for oil and gas producers , as it clarifies the ability...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: New York Court of Appeals Upholds Local Zoning Restrictions on Oil and Gas

On June 30, 2014, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that under the “Home Rule” principle, towns may ban oil and gas production activities, including but not limited to hydraulic fracturing, through the use of local zoning laws in the case of Wallach v. Town of Dryden . The Court ruled that...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Foreign Investors in U.S. Projects Have Right to Due Process in CFIUS Proceedings

Although United States Courts are generally reluctant to interfere in Executive Branch decisions related to national security, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in Ralls Corp. v. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States , 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 13389, recognized an important...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: CMS Final IPPS Rule Effective Oct. 1, 2014

By Jami K. Suver, Of Counsel In August 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) rule for fiscal year 2015, applicable to inpatient stays at general acute care and long-term care hospitals (LTCH). The rule applies to discharges...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Ohio Appellate Court Adopts Fixed ‘Look Back’ Period For 1989 Dormant Mineral Act

In the recent 7th District Court of Appeals case of Eisenbarth v. Reusser , 7th Dist. Monroe No. 13 MO 10, 2014-Ohio-3792 [ enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers ], the court determined that the “look back” period for the 1989 Dormant Mineral Act (“DMA”) was fixed...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: U.S. EPA Moves Forward with Potential TSCA Rulemaking Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing

By Armando F. Benincasa, Member The public comment period for USEPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures and potential regulation pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) came to a conclusion on September 18, 2014 and sets the...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Subcontractors Beware - Ohio Supreme Court Upholds ‘Pay-If-Paid’ Provisions

By Eric J. Hulett and Matthew A. Brandt The Ohio Supreme Court recently changed the landscape in construction law when it held that a payment provision in a subcontract which included the term “condition precedent” was sufficient to transfer the risk of the owner’s non-payment from...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Ohio Appeals Court Overturns Ruling That Held Certain Oil And Gas Leases Were Void

In Hupp v. Beck , Ohio’s 7th District Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s decision that certain oil and gas leases were void ab initio (i.e. at their inception) because the trial court considered them to be a “no term or perpetual lease” due to the delay rental provisions...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Know How: Timely Tips for Avoiding Sanctions for Failure to Preserve Evidence

By Bridget M. Cohee, Member With the nationwide move to using electronic medical records in lieu of paper charts, the duty to preserve evidence has become a more complicated process for medical providers. The duty to preserve evidence arises when a party has notice that the evidence is relevant to...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: Producer Requirements Change for Expired Oil and Gas Leases

By Gary Slagel and Holly Christie The “Recording of Surrender Documents from Oil and Natural Gas Lease Act,” will take effect as Act 152, December 21, 2014. Spurred by increasing concerns around title cloud issues caused by unreleased leases, the Act requires oil and gas producers to deliver...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: W. Va. Residential Homeowner Can Recover Costs of Repairs Even If Greater Than Fair Market Value of House

By Eric J. Hulett, Member Until recently, owners of damaged homes in West Virginia had some limits on the amount of damages they could recover in a lawsuit. Now, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has significantly revised prior case law and expanded available damages in Brooks et al v. City...

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: The Impacts of the 2014 Elections on Colorado’s Energy Industry

By Lori A. Dawkins, Member, and Devin C. Daines, Associate The results and impacts of Colorado’s recent elections were widely regarded as positive by those in the energy industry. By narrowly winning a second term, Governor John Hickenlooper will be able to keep intact his oil and gas task force...