Edwardsville attorney sued over oil well losses

Andrea Dearden Feb. 29, 2012, 11:45am

The owner of a Madison County oil company says his business lost ownership of several wells because of mistakes allegedly made by an attorney he hired.

Joseph Schrage and JS Oil Production Inc. filed a lawsuit against Jack H. Humes Jr. of Edwardsville on Feb. 17 in Madison County Circuit Court.

According to the complaint, JS Oil agreed to purchase eight oil wells in Jasper County from F.M. Minor Drilling Company in November 1998.

Schrage says during the transition of F.M. Minor's interests in those wells to JS Oil, he hired Debbie Minor, daughter of F.M. Minor, as a secretary and clerk. At the completion of the sale in September 1999, Debbie Minor allegedly transferred ownership of a certain number of shares of what is known as the "Harris Shares" to herself instead of JS Oil. On May 2001, a lien was allegedly placed on the wells by the plaintiffs to recover operating costs.

In June 2002, Schrage says he hired Humes to represent the company's interest in retrieving the "Harris Shares" that were wrongfully transferred in Debbie Minor's name and acquire operating costs of the wells that were spent since the sale in 1999. However, Schrage claims Humes neglected to take any action to obtain those wells and any costs associated with their operation.

Schrage alleges Humes received an offer in January 2004 from the Minor family to buy the contested wells for an agreed upon price, but no action was taken by the defendant. Then, in June 2004, Humes allegedly allowed the previous liens to dissolve without further contest to protect JS Oil's interests in the wells. Subsequently, Schrage says his company lost the opportunity to obtain the operating and maintenance costs of the disputed "Harris Shares."

The plaintiffs accuse Humes of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty and seek more than $100,000 in damages plus court costs.

Attorney Robert L. DeVoto of St. Louis is representing Schrage and JS Oil. They ask for a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-227

More News