July, 2013 | The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan

Lawsuit Filed Against ATP Oil & Gas Executives Over Royalty Interests

Executives of the now-defunct ATP Oil & Gas Corp. have been sued by Macquarie Investments LLC, based in Sydney, Australia. According to the lawsuit, ATP executives misrepresented royalty interests in a $110 million sale. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, claims that the sale of royalty interests was a “disguised” loan.

Macquarie claims to have been injured by intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent inducement on the part of ATP management. The lawsuit alleges that ATP executives conspired with the company’s law firms to misrepresent the royalty interests, producing false and misleading legal opinions regarding the nature of the sale. According to the complaint, when ATP later filed for bankruptcy, the management team caused ATP to take the position that the sale was a disguised loan. ATP is now bankrupt and was auctioned off to lenders in May.

Macquarie has demanded a jury trial and is seeking $32 million in damages in the suit.

Houston-based ATP filed for bankruptcy in 2010, blaming the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico that followed. ATP executives are facing another suit by shareholders who claim that the company misrepresented the effects that the moratorium had had on revenue prior to a sale of Senior Second Lien Exchange Notes in December 2010.

American Energy Mapping Accuses Hart Energy of Fraud

Hart Energy Publishing and Hart Energy Mapping & Data Services have been sued by American Energy Mapping (AEM). The lawsuit alleges that Hart Energy used fraudulent means to obtain protected information from AEM. According to the lawsuit, Hart Energy used a third party to pose as an AEM client in an attempt to gain access to competitor information.

The lawsuit accuses Hart Energy of fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty and interference with existing and future contracts. The lawsuit was filed on May 7 in Montgomery County District Court in Texas. The case number is 13-05-04872 in the 410th District Court, Judge K. Michael Mayes presiding.

Damien Wolff, the owner of American Energy Mapping, said that Hart Energy was using malicious means to attempt to put his smaller company out of business. Wolff portrayed the dispute as a “David versus Goliath” struggle and said that his company was being “bullied” by unethical and predatory tactics by the larger company.

AEM is an energy geographic information sytem (GIS) data provider that provides information within oil, natural gas and renewable energy datasets. The company operates an online GIS data store that offers information about natural gas and crude oil pipelines and wells, as well as land survey data. The company claims to be an innovator in the GIS data field in that it provides the ability for companies to purchase specific data online without subscribing to data services such as those offered by larger companies.

Hart Energy, based in Houston, is a large provider of news, data and analysis for the energy industry. The company publishes newsletter, magazines and directories in print form and online. Hart Energy’s publications provide oil and gas investors with information on exploration, production and business opportunities. The company also publishes specialized reports and custom publications for clients and provides member-only electronic portals for data about the oil and gas drilling industry.

A recent survey by Hart Energy found that unpredictable prices for oil and gas are the primary concern of U.S. energy companies. The Survey of Upstream U.S. Energy Companies, published by Hart Energy and Grant Thornton LLP, also found that exploration and land acquisition are companies’ top priorities. Hart Energy recently announced its annual Crude in Motion conference, to be held in Houston on October 30. The conference will feature information about the crude oil and liquids transportation industry.

Dell Sues Optical Disk Drive Makers for Price Fixing

Dell Inc., the Round Rock, Texas-based personal computer maker, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Austin accusing Hitachi-LG and other manufacturers of optical disk drives of fixing prices.

The lawsuit claims that the disk drive makers shared information about prices, production and sales, and agreed to set prices and rig bids for their products sold in the United States. Dell claims that as a result, it was sold disk drives at inflated prices.

According to Dell, the price fixing affected billions of dollars in purchases over a time period from 2004 to 2010. The lawsuit accuses the disk drive makers of breach of contract and violation of U.S. antitrust law. Under the provisions of antitrust law, Dell is seeking triple damages.

In 2011, the Justice Department said that Hitachi-LG pleaded guilty to rigging bids and fixing prices and agreed to pay a $21.1 million fine.

Dell has also named Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, BenQ Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Corp., and Toshiba Corp. as defendants in the lawsuit.

Dell is the largest private employer in Central Texas, with about 14,000 workers in the area. The company is the third-largest personal computer manufacturer in the world and is number 38 on the Fortune 500 list of large publicly-traded and closely-held companies. The company was founded by Michael Dell in Austin in 1984 and is one of the world’s largest tech companies.

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