Appalachian Land Company v. EQT Production Company

Case No. 7:08-cv-139-KKC

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. BASIC INFORMATION

  2. Why was the Notice issued?

    The Court issued the Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit that the Court has preliminarily approved. You also are entitled to know about all of your options. If the Court grants final approval and any appeals are resolved (this date will be referred to as “the Settlement Effective Date”), valuable benefits will be distributed to certain qualifying persons who submitted a Claim Form and did not opt out or object within the Claim Period.

  3. What is this lawsuit about?

    The company who filed the class action is called the “Plaintiff” and EQT Production Company is the “Defendant.” A lawsuit was filed in Kentucky Federal court captioned Appalachian Land Company v. EQT Production Company, Case No. 7:08-139-KKC, which alleges that Defendant improperly deducted severance taxes from the royalty payments owed to lessors under certain oil and gas leases. Plaintiff asserted legal claims on behalf of itself and all members of the “Settlement Class,” defined in Frequently Asked Question 5. Those claims include claims that Defendant breached its contract (lease) with lease holders. EQT denies these claims, as well as any wrongdoing in the payment of royalties and believes it has a defense.

  4. Why is this a class action?

    In a class action, one or more person(s) called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of themselves and others with similar claims. All of these people together are called a “Class,” and individually, are called “Class Members.” The Court appointed Plaintiff as Class Representative for purposes of this Settlement. The “Settlement Class Members” are all people who had severance taxes deducted from their royalty payments whose leases did not allow for this deduction, who have not already accepted reimbursement, and who do not properly or timely exercise their rights to opt out of the Settlement.

  5. Why is there a Settlement?

    The Court did not decide in favor of either Plaintiff or Defendant. Instead, both sides agreed to a Settlement. The Class Representative and the attorneys that have been appointed by the Court to represent the Class believe that the Settlement is in the best interests of all Settlement Class Members.

  6. WHO IS IN THE SETTLEMENT?

  7. How do I know if I am part of the Settlement?

    You are believed to be entitled to Settlement benefits if you received the Notice. You qualified for notice if you were a lease holder to an oil and gas lease with EQT (or its predecessors), you received royalty payments between January 1, 1995 through July 31, 2016, your royalties were reduced by the deduction of severance taxes where your lease did not provide for this deduction, and you have not already accepted compensation from EQT.

  8. What oil and gas leases are included in the Settlement?

    Lease holders of leases executed with EQT (or its predecessors) who received royalty payments between January 1, 1995 through July 31, 2016, whose leases did not provide for the deduction of severance taxes, and who have not already accepted compensation from EQT are eligible for compensation under this Settlement.

  9. Are there exceptions to being included in the Settlement?

    Excluded from the Settlement Class is the United States of America; any Judge or Magistrate presiding over this action and members of their families; Defendant, its affiliates, predecessors-in-interest, and its respective employees, officers and directors; and potential members of the class who have been paid and accepted reimbursement for withheld severance taxes during the class period.

  10. What if I am not sure whether I am included in the Settlement?

    If you received the Notice you are believed to be included in the Settlement. If you are not sure whether you are a Settlement Class Member, or have any other questions about the Settlement Agreement, contact the Settlement Administration by email at Claims@EQTOilAndGasRoyaltiesSettlement.com or call toll-free at (844) 931-1024. You may also send questions to the Settlement Administrator at:

    Appalachian Land Company v. EQT Production Company
    Attn: Settlement Administrator
    1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

  11. THE SETTLEMENT BENEFITS: WHAT YOU GET AND HOW YOU GET IT

  12. What does the Settlement provide?

    Each Class Member who does not opt out or object to the Settlement will get a pro rata reimbursement of royalty payments from the Settlement by EQT of up to 100% of the principal originally withheld. Depending on the number of claims, Class Members are also eligible for interest in an amount up to 100% of the principal originally withheld. The exact amount you will receive will depend on the amount of royalty payments previously withheld for the payment of severance taxes and the number of claims submitted by Class Members.

  13. How do I submit a claim?

    To be eligible for compensation, you must fully fill out and submit the Claim Form. The Claim Form can be submitted online or according to the directions on the Claim Form included with the Notice. Claim Forms must be submitted by August 24, 2020. Once the claims deadline has passed, the Settlement Administrator will determine whether you qualify for compensation and, if so, how much. Compensation will be paid within approximately sixty (60) days after the close of the claims period or after Final Judicial Approval occurs, whichever is later.

  14. What claims against EQT am I releasing?

    If you are a Settlement Class Member, when the Settlement becomes final if you have not opted out of the Settlement you will be releasing Defendant and their officers, directors, employees, and related corporate entities, from any liability for all claims which were or could have been asserted within this case, and you will be bound by the release included in the Settlement Agreement.

  15. THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING PLAINTIFFS

  16. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

    Yes. John C. Whitfield of Whitfield Bryson & Mason at 19 N. Main St., Madisonville, KY 42431; Gary E. Mason of Whitfield Bryson & Mason, LLP, 5101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Ste. 305, Washington, DC 20016; Caroline Ramsey Taylor of Whitfield Bryson & Mason, LLP at 518 Monroe St., Nashville, TN 37208; and George “Skip Stigger” of the Law Offices of George E. Stigger at 330 Osprey Circle, Saint Marys, GA 31558 have been appointed by the Court to represent you and the other Settlement Class Members. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

  17. How will the lawyers be paid?

    Plaintiff’s counsel will ask the Court to award attorneys’ fees and costs of no more than $350,000.00 which will be deducted from the Settlement Amount. The Court may award a different amount. No Settlement Class Member will pay anything out of pocket.

  18. EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENT

  19. What do I do if I do not want to be included in the Settlement?

    You have a right to exclude yourself or “opt out” of the Settlement. To opt out, you must personally sign and mail a request for exclusion to the following address:

    Class Action Opt Out
    c/o Appalachian Land Company v. EQT Production Company
    P.O. Box 58220
    1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Suite C31
    Philadelphia, PA 19102

    You must personally sign the exclusion request. You must also clearly state that you wish to be excluded from the Settlement Class. Your request must: (i) clearly express your desire to be excluded or to “opt out” from the Settlement Class and (ii) include your name, address and telephone number, and, if represented by counsel, counsel’s name, address and telephone number.

    Your exclusion request must be mailed to the address set forth above and must be postmarked no later than March 31, 2020 or it will not be accepted. If you do not specifically request to be excluded by following these directions, you will automatically be a member of the Settlement Class. If you opt out of the Settlement Class, you will not be eligible for any Settlement benefits, and will waive all rights to object to the Settlement. Similarly, if you file an objection to the Settlement with the Court (see Question 16 below), you will not be able to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class.

  20. What happens if I don’t opt out before March 31, 2020?

    If the proposed Settlement is approved and you are a Settlement Class Member who does not properly and timely exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, all claims that you may have now or in the future against Defendant with respect to the deduction of severance taxes from your royalty payments will be barred, and you will be prohibited from bringing any such claims in the future on your own behalf. You will be included in the Settlement Class but will not receive reimbursement for previously reduced royalty payments (unless you submit a valid claim form).

  21. OBJECTING TO THE SETTLEMENT

  22. How do I tell the Court that I like or do not like the Settlement?

    If you are a Settlement Class Member, you can express your objection to the Settlement. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send a letter to the Settlement Administrator at the address below saying that you object to the terms of the Settlement. Your objection must: (i) state in detail the legal and factual ground(s) for your objection; (ii) include your name, address and telephone number, and, if represented by counsel, counsel’s name, address and telephone number; (iii) indicate whether you or your attorney intend to speak at the Fairness Hearing; and (iv) be signed by you. If you are represented by your own separate counsel, that attorney will also need to file his or her appearance with the Court by no later than March 31, 2020.

    Please include the phrase “Appalachian Land Co. v. EQT Production Co., Case No. 7:08-139-KKC,” below the Settlement Administrator's address on the envelope containing your objection.

    Your objection must be postmarked by no later than March 31, 2020.

    Appalachian Land Company v. EQT Production Company
    Attn: Settlement Administrator
    1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

    If you send an objection to the Settlement Administrator, you will waive all rights to exclude yourself from the Settlement Class.

  23. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing before the Honorable Karen K. Caldwell at 9:30 A.M. Eastern time on July 24, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, located at 110 Main Street, Pikeville, KY 41501. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. The Court also may decide how much to pay Plaintiff’s Counsel. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant final approval of the Settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

  24. Do I have to attend the Hearing?

    No. Plaintiff’s Counsel will answer any questions that the Judge may have. However, you are welcome to come at your own expense. You also may pay your own lawyer to attend the Fairness Hearing on your behalf. If you file an objection, you do not have to come to Court to discuss it. As long as your written objection is received before the deadline, and you have followed the directions contained in the answer to Frequently Asked Question 16, the Court will consider the information provided in your written objection.

  25. May I speak at the Hearing?

    That will be up to the Judge. If you have submitted a timely written objection pursuant to Frequently Asked Question 16 and have indicated your intent to appear at the Fairness Hearing, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Fairness Hearing.

  26. What happens in the event of inclement weather?

    The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing before the Honorable Karen K. Caldwell at 9:30 A.M. Eastern time on July 24, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, located at 110 Main Street, Pikeville, KY 41501. In the event of inclement weather, please contact the Clerk’s office after 5:00 p.m. on May 20, 2020, at (606) 437-6160 for a recording about weather delays or Court closures.

  27. IF YOU DO NOTHING

  28. What happens if I do nothing at all?

    If you do nothing, you will be a Member of the Settlement Class, but you will not get any Settlement benefits to which you are entitled. To receive compensation, you must submit a valid Claim Form. Moreover, any and all claims you have relating EQT’s deduction of severance taxes from your royalty payments will be released if you do not act.

  29. How do I get more information?

    If you would like more information about the lawsuit on the terms of the proposed Settlement, you may review the pleadings, records and other papers on file in this lawsuit, including the Court’s Order regarding the Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement and the proposed Settlement Agreement, which may be inspected on weekdays, during normal business hours, at the Clerk’s Office, 110 Main Street, Pikeville, KY 41501. For more information you may contact the Settlement Administrator by email at Claims@EQTOilAndGasRoyaltiesSettlement.com or call toll-free at (844) 931-1024. You may also send questions to the Settlement Administrator at:

    Appalachian Land Company v. EQT Production Company
    Attn: Settlement Administrator
    1650 Arch Street, Suite 2210
    Philadelphia, PA 19103


PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE COURT DIRECTLY WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT.