United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
UNIVALOR TRUST, SA and FORVEST FINANCIAL SERVICES CORP., Plaintiffs,
COLUMBIA PETROLEUM LLC, COLUMBIA INTERNATIONAL LLC, ALABAMA ENERGY HOLDINGS II LLC, BENJAMIN ENERGY HOLDINGS II LLC, OCCIDENTAL ENERGY PARTNERS, INC., and CHESTER F. ENGLISH III, Defendants/Counter-Claimants,
UNIVALOR TRUST, SA and FORVEST FINANCIAL SERVICES CORP., Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants, PRUET PRODUCTION, CO., Intervenor, BRADLEY ENERGY HOLDINGS II, LLC, Intervenor Defendant.
K. DuBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action is before the Court on the Motions for Summary
Judgment filed by Defendant Alabama Energy Holdings II, LLC,
Defendant Benjamin Energy Holdings II, LLC, and Intervenor
Defendant Bradley Energy Holdings II LLC, wherein these
Defendants move for summary judgment on the issues raised in
Pruet Production Company's Complaint for Interpleader
(docs. 163, 164, 174, 175); Plaintiffs' response in
opposition and motion to strike Bradley Energy's motion
as untimely filed (doc. 183); and Defendants' objection
and motion to strike Plaintiffs' response in opposition
and motion to strike (doc. 187).
consideration, and for the reasons set forth herein,
Defendants' motions for summary judgment (docs. 163, 164,
174, 175) are DENIED AT THIS TIME. Plaintiffs' motion to
strike Bradley Energy's motion for summary judgment as
untimely filed (doc. 183) is DENIED, Defendants' motion
to strike Plaintiffs' motion to strike (doc. 187) is
MOOT, and Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiffs'
response as untimely filed (doc. 187) is GRANTED.
Procedural and Factual Background
Alabama Energy, Benjamin Energy and Intervenor Defendant
Bradley Energy own working interest points in three oil and
gas wells operated by Pruet Production Company in Conecuh
County, Alabama (docs. 164, 164-1, 166). Pruet distributed
royalty payments generated by the percentage working
interests in the producing wells to the Defendants.
early 2015, Plaintiffs Univalor Trust, SA and Forvest
Financial Services Corporation notified Pruet of their claim
to certain royalty payments previously due to Defendants for
the three wells (doc. 180-6). Plaintiffs based their claim on
the terms of the disputed Settlement Agreement (doc. 164-2,
Exhibit B, Settlement Agreement), which required Defendants
to assign certain working interest points into a Trust for
the benefit of Plaintiff Univalor, and the assignments made
by the Defendants but subsequently cancelled. After notice of
the disputed ownership, Pruet began to hold the royalty
payments in suspense.
August 2015, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in this Court
against Defendants, seeking to enforce the Settlement
Agreement. The complaint was last amended in February 2016
(doc. 91, Fourth Amended Complaint). In Count One, Plaintiffs
assert that parties entered into a binding Settlement
Agreement and request the “Court enter an Order
declaring that Defendants entered into a valid binding
settlement agreement with Plaintiffs that was not invalidated
by Defendants' attempt at repudiation or
rescission” (doc. 91, p. 13). In Count Two, Plaintiffs
seek an Order for the “Defendants to immediately comply
with all terms of the settlement agreement” and
alternatively, “Plaintiffs demand judgment for breach
of contract, holding Defendants separately and severally
liable for the value of the settlement agreement, which is
$2, 500, 000.00 plus interest and costs” (doc. 91, p.
November 2016, Pruet moved the Court for leave to intervene
in this action to file a Complaint for Interpleader to
interplead the suspended royalty payments and to interplead
future royalty payments as they accrued, pending resolution
of the claims (doc. 143). The Motion was granted (doc. 150).
By the time of Pruett's first deposit to the Court, the
royalties were as follows:
Bradley 25-5 No. I Well (Alabama Energy) $100, 356.21
Bradley 25-12 No. 1 Well (Bradley Energy) $167, 931.75
Benjamin 26-4 No. I Well (Benjamin Energy) $8, 719.08.
deposited additional royalties in the amount of $1, 521.96
from the Bradley 25-12 No. 1 Well and in the amount of $3,
114.79 from the Bradley 25-5 No. I Well (docs. 176, 177).
did not separately docket its Complaint for Interpleader.
Instead, the Complaint was included within the Motion (doc.
143, p. 2-5). In the complaint, Pruet alleges that it was
unable to resolve the ownership claims and thus, without an
adjudication of ownership of the royalty interests, it was
unable to disburse the suspended royalty payments. Pruet