Blawgletter adores cases that involve energy — oil, gas, wind, sun, nuclear, electric, tidal, you name it. We tried one last May in Texas and another last month in Louisiana — and look forward to trying a Great Many others, within Texas and without.
Which made us smile today at Judge Posner's opinion yesterday in a case involving coal and coal bed methane (natural gas). The parties to the lawsuit had signed a letter of intent. The LOI provided — in a non-binding way — (a) that the Party of the First Part, a coal mining company, hoped some day to grant the right to produce coal bed gas to the Party of the Second Part, an owner of options to mine coal, and (b) that the Party of the Second Part would assign to the Party of the First Part the options to mine the coal.
Because of the non-binding nature of the LOI, the Party of the Second Part couldn't enforce it. So the POSP sued the POFP for fraud.
The district court would have none of it. Neither would the Seventh Circuit. Reasons included the fact that the POFP's failure to do what the POSP said it promised by itself provided no evidence of fraudulent intent. BPI Energy Holdings, Inc. v. IEC (Montgomery), LLC, No. 10-3871 (7th Cir. Dec. 8, 2011) (applying Illinois law).