In J&R Passmore, LLC v. Rice Drilling D, LLC, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denied the lessors’ motion for class certification in the context of subsurface mineral trespass claims. Lessors assert that the lessees committed the subsurface trespass by drilling outside the terms of their leases when they developed the Point Pleasant interval even though, according to the lessors, the lessees only had the right to develop the formation commonly known as the Utica Shale. The district court denied lessors’ motion for class certification, finding, in part, that the individualized elements of the lessors’ tort claims (trespass, conversion, and unjust enrichment) predominate over the issues otherwise common to the putative class. “Defendants cannot be held liable for trespass, conversion, nor unjust enrichment unless they acted in a way that impacted each class members’ specific tracts of land. … This individualized inquiry is particularly important given the pooling unit structure in which the leases at issue are held.”
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