LISBON - Patriot Energy Partners LLC was vindicated in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court when a unanimous verdict was issued by a jury following a five-day jury trial.
Patriot Energy Partners had been one of several defendants of a lawsuit filed by Roger, Carolyn, James and Bruce Starkey of Mechanicstown in Carroll County. The lawsuit alleged PEP Leasing of Lisbon, Andrew and Thomas Blocksom of Lisbon, and Robert Dickey of Lisbon, were involved in some fashion with Patriot Energy and helped secure mineral rights leases from the Starkeys on behalf of Patriot Energy.
"We are very thankful for the unanimous jury verdict in favor of Patriot," said Patriot President Andy Blocksom in a press release issued shortly after the jury trial's conclusion. "We are also thankful that all the other defendants were dismissed from this lawsuit. From day one, we have said that we did everything properly, and the jury took less than 30 minutes to arrive at that same conclusion."
The lawsuit alleged the company engaged in questionable business practices to obtain the leases for only a fraction of what they were really worth and then sold the leases to other companies for significantly more money. The Starkeys also wanted more than $1 million in damages.
Visiting Judge Richard Reinbold previously dismissed any claims of notary fraud or notary irregularities, except for the rights of the plaintiffs to challenge whether Dickey properly notarized or had the right to notarize the plaintiffs' leases. The ruling declares the plaintiffs may not argue that any notary improprieties are in themselves fraud.
Additionally, any assertion of slander was dismissed as well as any assertion Dickey committed fraud by not having a license. The claim of unjust enrichment was also dismissed. Finally, the question of quieting the title was dismissed.
Reinbold's previous ruling was in favor of Dickey, the Blocksoms, PEP Leasing, Bass Energy and Buckeye Oil Producing Co.
The unanimous verdict, which reportedly took only about 30 minutes for the jury to determine, vindicated Patriot Energy Partners of wrongdoing.