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Jacobs v. CNG Transmission Corp.

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

July 6, 2004, Decided

Civil Action No. 96-319

Opinion

 [*762]  Plaintiffs commenced this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, on January 19,  [*763]  1996, by filing a complaint in equity seeking (1) an accounting of natural gas extracted, withdrawn, or produced on certain property located in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, (2) a finding that an oil and gas lease entered by plaintiffs' and defendant's predecessors has terminated and (3) a declaration quieting title to the oil and gas interests underlying the property in plaintiffs. Defendant removed the action to this court based [**2]  upon diversity of citizenship. The litigation has become protracted, involving proceedings before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Presently before the court are cross motions for summary judgment following a remand from the Third Circuit. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion will be granted in part and defendant's motion will be denied.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 (c) ] provides that summary judgment may be granted if, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." ] Summary judgment may be granted against a party who fails to adduce facts sufficient to establish the existence of any element essential to that party's claim, and upon which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying [**3]  evidence which demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. When the movant does not bear the burden of proof on the claim, the movant's initial burden may be met by demonstrating the lack of record evidence to support the opponent's claim. National State Bank v. National Reserve Bank, 979 F.2d 1579, 1582 (3d Cir. 1992). Once that burden has been met, the non-moving party must set forth "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial," or the factual record will be taken as presented by the moving party and judgment will be entered as a matter of law. Matsushita Electric Industrial Corp. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a), (e)) (emphasis in Matsushita). An issue is genuine only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

] In meeting its burden of proof, the "opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. [**4]  The non-moving party "must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion" and cannot "simply reassert factually unsupported allegations." Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989). Nor can the opponent "merely rely upon conclusory allegations in [its] pleadings or in memoranda and briefs." Harter v. GAF Corp., 967 F.2d 846 (3d Cir. 1992). Likewise, mere conjecture or speculation by the party resisting summary judgment will not provide a basis upon which to deny the motion. Robertson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 914 F.2d 360,382-83 n. 12 (3d Cir. 1990). If the non-moving party's evidence merely is colorable or lacks sufficient probative force summary judgment must be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; see also Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of North America, 974 F.2d 1358, 1362 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 912, 113 S. Ct. 1262, 122 L. Ed. 2d 659 (1993) (although the court is not permitted to weigh facts or competing inferences, it is  [*764]  no longer required to "turn a blind eye" to the weight of the evidence).

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332 F. Supp. 2d 759 *; 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16775 **; 162 Oil & Gas Rep. 33

DARRYL M. JACOBS and SUZANNE M. JACOBS, his wife, and PENNECO ENERGY CORP., Plaintiffs, v. CNG TRANSMISSION CORP., Defendant.

Prior History: Jacobs v. Cng Transmission Corp., 281 F.3d 221, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 27969 (3d Cir. Pa., 2001)

Disposition:  [**1]  Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment was granted in part; Plaintiffs' motion for expedited judgment was denied as moot; defendant's motion for summary judgment was denied.

CORE TERMS

lease, lessee, storage, parties, rental, rights, drilling, lessor, oil and gas, oil and gas lease, leasehold, royalty, oil production, provisions, primary term, habendum clause, oil, implied covenant, abandonment, utilized, premises, expiration, surrender, sands, mutual benefit, courts, circumstances, natural gas, obligations, mineral

Civil Procedure, Discovery, Methods of Discovery, General Overview, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Genuine Disputes, Legal Entitlement, Materiality of Facts, Supporting Materials, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Judgments, Evidentiary Considerations, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Opposing Materials, Memoranda of Law, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Lease Agreements, Contract Interpretation, Intent, Ambiguities & Contra Proferentem, Parol Evidence, Defenses, Ambiguities & Mistakes, Types of Commercial Transactions, Secured Transactions, Energy & Utilities Law, Financing, Grants & Reservations, Oil, Gas & Mineral Interests, Conveyances, Mineral Interests, Discovery, Exploration & Recovery, Exploration Obligations & Rights, Federal Oil & Gas Leases, Lease Terms, Assignments & Transfers, Leases & Licenses, Granting Clauses, Oil & Petroleum Products, Nonpossessory & Possessory Interests, Personalty & Realty Interests, Real Property Law, Mining, Perfections & Priorities, Perfection, Methods of Perfection, Business & Corporate Compliance, Automatic Perfection, Habendum Clauses, Mining Industry, Coal Mining, Leases, Mineral Leases, Estates, Future Interests, Reversions & Reverter, Right of Entry, Present Estates, Fee Simple Estates, Deeds, Construction & Interpretation, Contracts Law, Divisible Contracts, Severability, Entirety Clauses, Covenants, Implied Covenants, Reasonable Care & Diligence, Reasonable Development, Implied Duties, Royalty Clauses, Royalties, Leasehold Royalty Clauses, Lease Interpretation, Extensions & Terminations, Drilling Agreements, Extensions & Terminations, Abandonment & Termination, Forfeiture Clauses, Trusts