Hundreds of Property owners who sold rights-of-way for a natural gas pipeline in western Erie County face uncertainty due to a federal lawsuit. In U.S. District Court in Erie, the case over the 28.3-mile Risberg Pipeline has failed to settle, and both sides are seeking extra time to gather evidence as they prepare for trial.
While the case moves slowly through the courts, one component of the disagreement remains unresolved: mechanic’s liens totaling $18,946,185 are still connected to pipeline work on hundreds of acres near Albion in Erie County. The liens result from a federal lawsuit launched in August by the pipeline’s builder, Houston-based Wood Group USA Inc., against Erie-based RH Energytrans, which owns the $86 million project. The pipeline, which began operations in 2019, comprises 15 miles of 12-inch steel pipe in Erie County and around 13 miles of line in Ashtabula County, Ohio, where the project finishes in North Kingsville.
According to the Wood Group, the Wood Group alleges RH Energytrans owes it more than $35 million, with $18,946,185 of that owed for work conducted in Erie County. As the Wood Group and RH Energytrans are in different states, the matter is heard in federal court. The Wood Group filed the mechanic’s liens at the Erie County Courthouse in December as a companion action to the national litigation in an attempt to reclaim the money it believes RH Energytrans owes it.
Hundreds of other Property owners in Ashtabula County were served with similar mechanic’s liens by The Wood Group in December. Even though the total sum of all the liens is approximately $19 million, it is split out among all of the swathes of Property, all of which are parcels where the pipeline goes underground. Energytrans claims to have paid the Wood Group everything owed under the contract’s provisions.