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Friday, April 9, 1999

Oil companies settle lawsuit with royalty owners for $200 million

CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday finished approving almost $200 million worth of settlements between oil companies and the royalty owners they allegedly shortchanged.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack approved seven settlements ranging from $350,000 to $11 million, said plaintiffs’ lawyer Lee Godfrey.

On Wednesday, Jack approved an agreement by several oil companies to pay $164.2 million to tens of thousands of royalty owners nationwide.

Oil companies who were defendants in the cases included Exxon, Union Pacific Resources, Amoco BP, Chevron, and Shell.

A central accusation in the lawsuits was that the oil companies paid royalty owners on posted prices rather than on higher spot market prices.

The class action grew from numerous lawsuits filed in various courts in several states. A judicial panel consolidated the lawsuits and moved the class action to Corpus Christi last year. Ms. Jack gave preliminary approval to all of the settlements last fall.

“We were very pleased with the outcome,” Godfrey, who represents the plaintiffs who will split the largest piece of the settlement said Thursday afternoon.

Godfrey filed the first lawsuit in 1995 and was appointed lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

“It’s very nice to finally get them concluded on a favorable basis, of course,” he said.

Richard Carrell, lead attorney for the settling oil companies, said he also thought Jack’s rulings were fair after Wednesday’s settlement.

“The defendants are gratified that we are at the end of a very long road,” he said.

Claimants include royalty and working-interest owners who may have received payments from the settling defendants between Jan. 1, 1986, and Sept. 30, 1998.

Wednesday and Thursday’s proceedings were at the federal courthouse. Earlier in the week, proceedings were at Bayfront Plaza Convention Center to accommodate hundreds of plaintiffs and the 220 attorneys involved in the case.

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