The Oil & Gas Personal Injury & Commercial Litigation Attorney

A History of the Jorden & White Law Firm

In the “MARCELLUS SHALE AND THE ATTORNEY” article, I promised to write eight blogs touching on the concerns, impact, and the role of the attorney in the oil and gas exploration and drilling boom.  These series of blogs are not unlike a book.  Every book needs a foreword so that the reader knows something of a background and credentials behind the story.  Accordingly, we are starting out with this history of the Jorden & White Law Firm.

The Early Days

Attorney Bill Jorden grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Paul Benedum, of Benedum Trees Oil Company, became Bill’s Eagle Scout career sponsor.  In 1962, Attorney Jorden entered the University of Pennsylvania on a football scholarship, with a petroleum engineering career in mind.  It was not long after entering Penn that Attorney Jorden became enamored with the law and changed his career goal from engineering to law.  After graduating from Duquesne Law School in 1969, Attorney Jorden launched his law practice in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Erie provided fertile grounds for a young attorney to receive instant training and experience in the courtroom.  In short succession, Attorney Jorden handled a multitude of criminal and civil cases, including four headline murder cases, one involving the murder of a District Judge. He obtained the first plaintiff’s victory in a motorcycle accident case in Northwest Pennsylvania.  In 1973 he became a partner in the law firm of McClure, Dart Miller, Keller & White, where he handled the firm’s litigation. Attorney Jorden represented clients in litigation matters ranging from personal injury to intellectual property disputes.  During this time, Attorney Jorden continued to represent injury and accident victims with a special emphasis on worker’s injuries and product liability.  In 1979, he was one of the first attorneys to file the Agent Orange class action suit, representing all Western Pennsylvania Vietnam Veterans suffering from Agent Orange exposure.

At about that same time, two events occurred which would reignite Attorney Jorden’s early interest in the oil and gas industry. National Fuel Gas Company’s chief legal counsel, recognizing a conflict of interest, referred James I. Shearer, a dynamic Lessor, producer, driller, and oil and gas business mogul to Attorney Jorden for representation.  At approximately the same time, four young men walked into Attorney Jorden’s office with the dream of buying a drilling rig and striking it rich in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio’s oil and gas regions.

The Oil & Gas Boom of the 1980’s – The Northwest Pennsylvania counties, including Erie County, Crawford County, Mercer County, and in Ashtabula and Jefferson Counties, Ohio

In the midst of this boom, Attorney Jorden withdrew from the McClure, Dart Miller, Keller & White Law Firm and relocated his practice to Meadville, Pennsylvania where he connected with a young attorney, Harry Faber White, II. Attorney White was then clerking for Crawford County President Judge, P. Richard Thomas.  Attorney White’s grandfather was an attorney in the Washington DC and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania areas who had moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania to become one of the regions pioneer oil producers.  The mutual interests of Attorney Jorden and Attorney White, combined with the demand for legal services in the oil and gas region resulted in the 1981 birth of the Jorden & White Law Firm, with its headquarters in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Not long after the firm was formed, a young man lost his arm and part of his leg when he became entangled in a spinning Cat Line on a drilling rig.  The absence of safety devices and the ability to instantly disengage or turn off the Cat Head resulted in Attorney Jorden filing a product liability suit against the manufacturer, which ultimately resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement for the worker.

Oil & Gas Litigation

Litigation became the mainstay of the Jorden and White Law Firm as it represented clients in oil and gas related cases. The Firm represented landowners in their fight over contaminated aquifers. In one case, the migration of gas resulted in the explosion and total destruction of a restaurant, located half a mile away from a drill site.  It was not long before Attorney Jorden and Attorney White were considered a primary go-to law firm for oil and gas matters in the region.  The Firm boasted a long list of oil and gas clients, including Meridien Oil & Gas, Inc., James Drilling, Inc., H&H Enterprises, Inc., Hendricks Resources, Inc. and Engram Enterprises to mention a few.

In addition to representation of the commercial companies, the firm also represented numerous landowners in protecting their lease interests or in litigation with oil and gas producers.  In one such case, the firm successfully obtained back for a landowner, from a production company, both the leasehold interest and the gas wells drilled on the client’s land.   The firm also became immersed in the performance of oil and gas title searches and title certifications.  At one point, the firm searched and certified titles to thousands of lease acreages in Ohio involving hundreds of landowners and farms involving a multi-million sale of lease acreage to General Motors.

Jorden & White Law Firm Today

Bill Jorden and Harry White were joined in 2008 by Attorney Matt Jorden.  Matt had just graduated Cum Laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lansing Michigan with a litigation concentration. Prior to entering law school Matt worked in the Florida Keys as a SCUBA instructor and dive boat first mate. In addition to recreation sport law and personal injury litigation, Matt assists in all of the Firm’s oil and gas related dealings, including lease work, title examinations, municipal regulations, environmental issues, asset protection, and trials.

Today Bill Jorden, Harry White, and Matt Jorden continue to represent oil and gas workers, landowners, and companies.  The Bill Jorden Litigation Team stands ready to represent both workers and others seriously injured as a result of drilling, machinery, trucking, chemical, fire, explosion, toxic, and contamination injuries resulting from oil and gas field operations.

The Jorden and White Firm and its attorneys continue to advise and represent landowners to protect their interests and lands in oil and gas lease negotiations. The Firm advises clients regarding estate planning and asset protection measures necessitated by the client’s oil and gas interests.

Currently, Attorneys Bill Jorden and Matt Jorden are engaged in a commercial litigation law suit filed in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Our attorneys are defending a client in a major contract dispute with a general contractor over the drilling and location of a natural gas pipe line.

Attorney Harry White recently certified title to thousands of lease acres so the client could commence drilling operations.  Attorney Bill Jorden created limited liability companies for another client engaged in the manufacturing of a drilling rig. Transactions were then negotiated putting that drilling rig to work in upper New York State.

Experience does count.  It is from this broad range of experience, both in the law and in matters related to oil and gas production, that we intend to write about legal wars in the oil and gas regions of Pennsylvania, your rights, and how to protect yourself.