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Appeals court revives Wind River royalty fraud case

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday revived a false claims suit against an energy company accusing of underpaying gas royalties on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

Based on research, two men believed Comstock Resources, Inc. was cheating the Wind River tribes out of payments. The men, Don Kennard and Harrold Wright, invited the tribes to join the claim but a tribal attorney declined.

However, the attorney filed a claim on behalf of the tribes based on the information gathered by the Kennard and Wright. A federal judge then threw out the mens' claim, saying it was redundant and barred by federal law.

The 10th Circuit reversed and held that Kennard and Wright and qualified under an "original source" exception in the law. The suit has been sent back to a federal judge.

Under the False Claims Act, the men would be entitled to a portion of the royalties Comstock allegedly failed to pay.

Get the Story:
Court revives royalties claim (AP 4/7)

Get the Decision:
Kennard v. Comstock Resources Inc (March 5, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Eastern Shoshone Tribe -
Northern Arapaho Tribe -
Minerals Management Service -

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