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David F. Pollock, As Executor of the Estate of Margaret F. v. Energy Corporation of America

November 29, 2011

DAVID F. POLLOCK, AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF MARGARET F. POLLOCK, JOHN T. DIBIASE, JR., JOHN S. FRAYTE, PATRICIA L. CHRISTOPHER, LOUIS A. VECCHIO AND BESSIE P. VECCHIO, BARBARA A. MORRIS, GENE M.VIRGILI AND ERIN R. VERGILI, LLOYD R. SHAFFER, III, STUART W. WHIPKEY, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ENERGY CORPORATION OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mitchell, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' David F. Pollock's, et al. ("the Plaintiffs"), Motion for a Court-Ordered Accounting (Doc. # 29). For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

I. Factual and Procedural History

Plaintiffs are Pennsylvania landowners who entered into oil and gas leases with Defendant, Energy Corporation of America's ("ECA"). On March 4, 2011, Plaintiffs filed an amended class action complaint against ECA for alleged underpayment of oil and gas royalties owed under the leases.

On March 28, 2011, ECA filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint arguing that: 1) the claim that ECA took wrongful volumetric deductions is foreclosed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in Kilmer v. Elexco Land Services, 605 Pa. 413, 990 A.2d 1147 (2010); 2) the amended complaint does not meet the pleading standards of Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 U.S. 662 (2009); 3) the amended complaint does not adequately plead an anticipatory defense of fraudulent concealment; and, 4) the prerequisites for an accounting claim have not been sufficiently pled.

On June 27, 2011, this Court filed a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the motion be granted as to Plaintiffs' claims for recovery related to gas used or lost before the point of sale. It was also recommended that the remainder of ECA's motion was denied, including ECA's argument that Plaintiffs had failed to adequately plead a claim for legal accounting. On August 22, 2011, the Court entered an order granting in part and denying in part ECA's motion to dismiss. Relevant to this matter, the Court determined that Plaintiffs' accounting claim survived ECA's motion to dismiss.

On September 6, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a Court-Ordered Accounting averring that it is entitled to both a legal and equitable accounting from ECA. ECA opposes the motion.

B. Discussion

1) Legal Accounting

Pa.R.Civ.P 1021(a) provides for the right to demand an accounting at law: "Any pleading demanding relief shall specify the relief to which the party deems himself entitled. Relief in the alternative or of several different types, including an accounting, may be demanded." "The right to relief in the form of an accounting pursuant to Rule 1021 is merely an incident to a proper assumpsit claim." Buczek v. First National Bank of Mifflintown, 531 A.2d 1122, 1123 (Pa. Super. 1987).

To establish a right to an accounting in a breach of contract case, plaintiffs must show that:

(1) there was a valid contract, express or implied, between the parties whereby the defendant

(a) received monies as agent, trustee or in any other capacity whereby the relationship created by the contract imposed a legal obligation upon the defendant to account to the plaintiff for monies received by the defendant, or

(b) if the relationship created by the contract between the plaintiff and defendant created a legal duty upon the defendant to account and the defendant failed to account and the plaintiff is unable, by reason of the defendant's ...


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