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Hicks Johnson Obtains $190 Million Settlement in Energy Case on Eve of Trial

Hicks Johnson Obtains $190 Million Settlement in Energy Case on Eve of Trial

Many lawsuits settle for pennies on the dollar of what a plaintiff demands. But in a terrific victory for our client, Hicks Johnson helped WPP LLC go home with millions more than it originally sought in a coal mine lease dispute with Hillsboro Energy LLC.

According to a recent 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, Hillsboro has agreed to pay $190 million to settle claims it withheld lease payments to WPP LLC for the Dear Run mine in western Illinois. Natural Resource Partners L.P., the Houston-based corporate parent of WPP, originally had sued Hillsboro for $116 million – what it was owed for years of quarterly lease payments that Hillsboro refused to pay.

Logan Johnson, Hicks Johnson partner and lead attorney on the case, credited NRP’s commitment and aggressive approach to the litigation, as well as his legal team’s meticulous preparations, for forcing the incredible settlement.

“This was a hard-fought matter that settled literally the day before trial,” said Johnson. “I’m thrilled for the client.”

The case stemmed from Hillsboro’s declaration of force majeure in 2015 following a spontaneous combustion in the mine, which then remained idle for three years. Hillsboro, a division of Foresight Energy, said the occurrence constituted an Act of God and, as such, it did not have to pay NRP for the time was shut down.

However, our client rightly asserted that the spontaneous combustion, a well-known phenomenon in the coal mining industry, was a man-made event – caused when Hillsboro pumped oxygen into the mine.

With both sides dug in, the matter was headed to court on Oct. 22 when Hillsboro blinked.

Media coverage of the case

Law360:   Coal Mining Cos. Reach $190M Settlement

The Journal-News: Settlement Agreement Reached in Deer Run Suit

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Foresight Energy Pays $25 Million to Settle Disputes…

Coal Age: NRP, Foresight Resolve Legal Dispute