September 4, 2013 4th Circuit published opinion

Whiteman v Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC

Chesapeake drilled for natural gas under Whiteman’s land. Whitman sued for trespass and the district court granted summary judgment to Chesapeake. The panel affirmed. Applying West Virginia law, the panel held that surface disposal of mud and other debris was reasonably necessary for Chesapeake to drill for natural gas and there was no substantial burden on Whiteman’s surface rights as the undisputed evidence was the value of the land was either not impacted or impacted in a very minor way. The panel also held that West Virginia uses a case by case factual analysis to determine reasonable necessity and Chesapeake’s use of alternative disposal systems in Texas and Oklahoma therefore does not require a different outcome given the facts of this case particularly the lack of substantial injury to Whiteman’s rights.

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