United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
ALAN MARBAKER; CAROL MARBAKER; JERRY L. CAVALIER; and FRANK HOLDREN Plaintiffs,
STATOIL USA ONSHORE PROPERTIES, INC. f/k/a STATOILHYDRO USA ONSHORE PROPERTIES, INC. Defendant.
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before this Court is a Motion to Consolidate (Doc.
18) filed by Plaintiffs Alan Marbaker, Carol Marbaker, Jerry
L. Cavalier, and Frank Holdren (collectively
“Marbaker Plaintiffs”). Specifically,
the Marbaker Plaintiffs seek to consolidate this
action with one currently pending before Judge Mannion:
Canfield v. Statoil USA Onshore Properties, Inc.,
No. 3:16-CV-85. I will not grant the Marbaker
Plaintiffs' Motion because the issues presented in this
action are distinct from those before Judge Mannion in
The Marbaker Action:
April 2, 2015, the Marbaker Plaintiffs filed a class
demand and complaint in arbitration against Statoil USA
Onshore Properties, Inc. (“Statoil”). There, the
Marbaker Plaintiffs alleged that Statoil
systematically underpaid oil and gas royalties in a
“scheme to enrich” its parent company in
violation of its lease agreements. (Doc. 19, at 6.)
Concurrent with the arbitration action, these Plaintiffs
filed a declaratory action in this Court seeking to determine
whether or not the lease agreements permitted class
arbitration. See Marbaker v. Statoil USA Onshore
Properties, Inc., No. 15-700 (M.D. Pa. 2015). However,
that federal action was dismissed without prejudice on June
5, 2015 by stipulation because the parties agreed to enter
August 25, 2017, Plaintiffs re-filed their federal
declaratory action (“Marbaker Action”).
The Marbaker Plaintiffs seek, yet again, to
determine whether they can proceed with class arbitration.
The Canfield Action:
January of 2016, Statoil was sued by a second set of
leaseholders (“Canfield Plaintiffs”) who
also alleged that Statoil engaged in conduct that resulted in
the systematic underpayment of royalties. See Canfield v.
Statoil USA Onshore Properties, Inc., No. 16-85 (M.D.
Pa. 2016). The conduct alleged by the Canfield
Plaintiffs mirrors the averments contained in the
Marbaker Plaintiffs' arbitration complaint. The
Canfield Plaintiffs, unlike the Marbaker
Plaintiffs, were able to proceed in federal court because
their leases did not contain an arbitration clause.
moved to dismiss this action. Id. Judge Mannion,
presiding over Canfield, dismissed the majority of
the claims alleged. Id. However, the
Canfield Plaintiffs were left with at least one
viable claim. This triggered settlement discussions between
Statoil and the Canfield Plaintiffs. By October of
2017, the Canfield Plaintiffs had engaged in robust
settlement negotiations and reached an agreement in principle
to settle the case. And, on December 1, 2017 Statoil and the
Canfield Plaintiffs notified Judge Mannion that they
had reached a preliminary, class-wide settlement. Today,
there is an open Motion for Preliminary Approval of the
proposed settlement. Id.
Motion to ConsoliDated:
March 30, 2018, the Marbaker Plaintiffs filed a
Motion to Consolidate the Marbaker and
Canfield actions. Statoil opposes this Motion.
Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.
Consolidation of the Marbaker and Canfield