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Tentative Settlement Reached In Class Action Lawsuit

EQT Corp., the defendant in a class-action lawsuit against West Virginia landowners, reached a tentative $53.5 million settlement with the West Virginia landowners who filed the suit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in 2013, claims the natural gas production company EQT had improperly taken post-production deductions from the royalty payments owed to landowners. Those claims cover the period between 2009 and 2017. Judge John Preston Bailey presided over the case. EQT announced the tentative deal on Wednesday.

In the settlement, EQT agrees to pay $53.5 million into a settlement fund that will be established to distribute payments to the plaintiffs. Additionally, certain participants may elect to instead adopt a standard lease pooling modification in exchange for an increase in their royalties, ranging from 2 percent to 18 percent, at the court’s discretion.

“EQT is working diligently to resolve this matter with our leaseholders and earn their confidence, as well as that of other West Virginia residents and community leaders,” EQT CEO Robert McNally said. “This was an opportunity to turn over a new leaf in our relationship with our West Virginia leaseholders and this mutually beneficial agreement demonstrates our renewed commitment to the state of West Virginia.”

Linda Robertson, manager of media relations for EQT, did not return calls Thursday seeking additional comment and further information. The plaintiff’s legal representative, Kay Company LLC, could not be reached for comment.

EQT Corp. operates in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania with an emphasis on the Appalachian Basin. It has been in business for 130 years and says it is the largest producer of natural gas in the United States.

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