With today’s regular orders list, the Court granted rehearing in a petition for review. It also rescheduled oral argument, at the parties’ request, in one of the cases that had been chosen for argument in March. (( The rescheduled case is Texas Rice Partners v. Denbury Green Pipeline-Texas LLC, No. 09-0901 (DDB). The new argument date will be April 19, 2011. ))

Fraudulent concealment to toll the statute of limitations on royalty payments

Last fall, the Court denied the petition for review in Shell Oil Co., et al. v. Ralph Ross, No. 10-0429 (DDB). The issue was whether the court of appeals was right that the royalty owner in this case had proven an exception to the statute of limitations that would otherwise have defeated their claim against Shell. The Court denied review without requesting full briefs.

Shell filed a motion for rehearing. Along the way, there were three amicus filings by industry groups and one by a competing energy company, all urging the Court to grant rehearing to avoid what they saw as negative consequences from the rule announced by the court of appeals. (( As with most of the cases I mention on the blog, you can reach the briefs and list of amicus parties through the “DDB” link. ))

That’s a little more conventional pattern than the grants of rehearing in last week’s orders. The rehearing stage has become the season for amicus groups to flock. It is also, unfortunately, the time when the odds are most stacked against the party they support.

With today’s order, the Court granted rehearing without granting the underlying petition. The case has been returned to the pool of pending cases, and the Court has now requested full merits briefs.