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Federal judge in Oklahoma City combines Chesapeake lawsuits

Thirteen lawsuits against the board of Chesapeake Energy Corp. have been combined into one case by a federal judge in Oklahoma City.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: July 17, 2012

A federal judge in Oklahoma City has combined 13 shareholder lawsuits against Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s board of directors, with a Louisiana firm serving as lead counsel.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange agreed to consolidate the cases last week at the request of several plaintiffs who have filed breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits over the past few months.

The Chesapeake shareholders sued the company's board since April, when published reports detailed up to $1.1 billion in personal loans secured by CEO Aubrey McClendon against his stake in Chesapeake wells. Some loans came from companies that have invested in Chesapeake.

“The derivative actions all allege that various officers and directors of Chesapeake breached their fiduciary duties to Chesapeake and its shareholders by permitting material disclosure violations,” the judge wrote in her ruling Friday.

“Each derivative action seeks to ensure that any damages suffered by Chesapeake by reason of these alleged violations and other alleged fiduciary breaches are borne by the individual defendants and not by Chesapeake and its shareholders.”

Miles-LaGrange agreed to consolidate the cases because of “substantial overlap of common issues of fact and law.” None of the plaintiffs objected to the move.

The judge declined to designate a lead plaintiff, but she did designate the Louisiana-based firm of Kahn, Swick & Foti LLC as lead counsel.

Oklahoma City's Strong, Martin and Associates will serve as local counsel.

Also ...

Company buys land for Ohio office

Chesapeake Energy Corp. has purchased 291 acres in Louisville, Ohio, for its Utica Shale headquarters, the company said Monday.

The Oklahoma City oil and natural gas company said construction will begin shortly on “multiple buildings” that will house Chesapeake and its subsidiaries, the company said.

“In planning for our Utica Field Office, we looked for a centralized location with the necessary acreage to accommodate our expanding workforce and growing operations here in Ohio,” said Keith Fuller, Chesapeake's director of corporate development. “This project demonstrates our commitment to the city of Louisville, Stark County and many other communities neighboring our area of operations in the Utica.”

Chesapeake did not disclose when construction is expected to be complete or how many employees it will house, but spokesman Pete Kenworthy said most of the more than 400 Chesapeake employees in the area will office out of the new property.


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