Hustle Mindset

Private-Equity Firm Leader Kneeland Youngblood Seeks $900M And The Return Of Family Land To The Descendants Of Freed Slaves

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According to The Wall Street Journal, Youngblood and his family are looking to claim more than $900 million in a lawsuit against crude oil producer ConocoPhillips.

“If it goes to a verdict, I think we can get a lot more,” Youngblood told the outlet.

The reasoning behind the suit filing is due to Youngblood and his family’s belief that the company has deprived them of the benefits of their ancestral oil-filled land in Texas. It was owned by their family, the Eckfords, who were freed from slavery after the Civil War.

However, when the family passed, the ownership of the land became blurred, as another family laid claim, notes the outlet.

Several lawyers in the energy sector believe Youngblood’s claims is unlikely to sway in his favor. However, for him, victorious or not in his pursuit of justice, he feels the lawsuit is one step closer to protecting the history of his family.

“This is about legacy,” he expressed to The Wall Street Journal.

Youngblood has recently received good news in his pursuit. A Texas jury confirmed his family co-owns the land. Currently, the Korths, a white family, has lived on the land since World War II.

In 2008, ConocoPhillips obtained leases from the Korth family and signed leases with some of the heirs of the Eckford family before drilling on the land.

However, the Korths, who had acquired Eliza Eckford’s portion of the land upon the matriarch’s death in the early 1900s, stated they received her children’s separate shares as well — so the entire land track is theirs. They further added that the Eckfords did not claim the property.

“It seems very straightforward that if you pay taxes, and you’re operating the land and you have a deed that stipulates that you are the owner of the land, then it’s yours,” said Chico Korth, the 57-year-old great-grandson of the original Korth property owner, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Youngblood is now awaiting a final verdict on the ownership of the land, and the case involving ConocoPhillips is proceeding to a separate court, according to a family lawyer.

The Youngblood family hopes to receive $900 million in damages that will encompass unpaid royalties, lawyer fees, and punitive damages.

“Regardless of the judgment, it’s not going to change my life,” Youngblood explained to the publication. “But for many of my relatives it could be transformative.”





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