4 more landowners sue to break oil, gas leases

LISBON – Four additional property owners have filed a lawsuit in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court attempting to get their oil and gas leases released.

Bernard A. Ritteger II, Donna D. Ritteger and Bernard A. Ritteger III, all of Elkrun Road, Lisbon, as well as Patricia Whitten-Stuba, Middle Beaver Road, Lisbon, filed a lawsuit on Friday against Chesapeake Exploration.

The members of the Ritteger family are the owners of 71.1 acres, while Bernard Ritteger III owns an additional 48.1 acres. All of the Ritterger properties were allegedly leased by Black Gold Exploration in March 2002.

Whitten-Stuba owns about 145 acres reportedly also leased by Black Gold Exploration in February 2002.

Although some of the leases were extended for an additional five years in 2007, the property owners believe the leases have now expired and should be released. Increases from $2 per acre to $5 per acre, which were reportedly in the contract in order to extend the start of drilling a well reportedly were not received. Whitten-Stuba also contends in her case an extension of the lease was obtained fraudulently.