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Appeals court says Southwest Virginia gas royalties lawsuits don't qualify for class-action

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RICHMOND, Virginia — A federal appeals court says five lawsuits filed by Southwest Virginia landowners against two energy companies don't qualify for class-action status.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Tuesday that the U.S. District Court abused its discretion when it certified the cases as class-action lawsuits. The ruling says the District Court's analysis lacked what the judges called "requisite rigor" to ensure the requirements for class-action certification were satisfied.

The lawsuits allege that EQT Production Co. and CNX Gas. Company cheated the plaintiffs out of royalties for coalbed methane gas on their properties.

Tuesday's ruling came in the companies' appeal of the lawsuits' class-action status. The appeals court sent the lawsuits back to the lower court for reconsideration of that issue.

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