Wolf Block Sued for Failing to Advise on Subsurface Rights

, The Legal Intelligencer


Wolf Block

"As a result of the rights of the mineral rights holders, Dutch Run can no longer develop the plans it had tediously created nor enter into contracts with hotels or other vendors who could occupy the land," Dutch Run said in the complaint.

Dutch Run said it cannot use the land as it intended because of Miller's alleged negligent advice about the consequences of the mineral rights holders. Dutch Run said in the complaint that it would not have purchased the land but for Miller's alleged negligence.

This isn't the only litigation Dutch Run has become involved with in Pennsylvania over the West Virginia property.

In November 2013, a split panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in Dutch Run-Mays Draft v. Lawyers Title Insurance that Dutch Run could not get title insurance coverage for lawsuits filed against it in West Virginia by nearby property owners looking to assert prescriptive easements on Dutch Run's property. Dutch Run's application for reargument before the Superior Court was denied last month.

Dutch Run is being represented in the case against Wolf Block by Jonathan R. O'Boyle of The O'Boyle Law Firm in Philadelphia. O'Boyle said Dutch Run would be petitioning the state Supreme Court for the right to appeal the insurance coverage suit.

The issues with the prescriptive easements caused the initial delay in developing the land, O'Boyle said, noting the issues related to the subsurface rights weren't discovered until many of the easement concerns were being researched.

Martin O'Boyle, Jonathan O'Boyle's father, is the owner, along with several family trusts, of Commerce Limited Partnership 9352. Dutch Run is a wholly owned subsidiary of Commerce Limited created for the sole purpose of purchasing the land in Greenbriar County, Martin O'Boyle said. He said he paid more than $6 million for the land and, nine years later, now has about $10 million invested in it.

Martin O'Boyle said Dutch Run went into bankruptcy mainly due to the issues with the prescriptive easements, but he said the subsurface rights were a contributing factor. He said Dutch Run is currently in bankruptcy in the Southern District of Florida and is hoping to get its reorganization plan approved soon.

A request for comment from an attorney working for Wolf Block was not immediately returned. An entry of appearance has not been made on behalf of Wolf Block in the Dutch Run suit, which was filed Jan. 30.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI. •

What's being said

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    What a disaster! How could "an experienced" real estate lawyer miss such a basic issue? Better call the excess carrier too.

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