by Katherine K. Green and Richard D. McConnell

There are scores of oilfield contamination cases, coined “legacy lawsuits,” in which landowners claim that their property has been contaminated by historical oil and gas exploration and production operations. Legacy lawsuits are a means for plaintiffs to potentially obtain large jury verdicts to remediate property. Plaintiffs, however, are not required to use their monetary awards towards the remediation of their property. In 2006, the Louisiana Legislature, in response to windfall jury verdicts, lack of remediation obligations on landowner plaintiffs, and the adverse effect of those events on oil and gas operators in the State, enacted Louisiana Revised Statute 30:29 (“Act 312”). Act 312 reflects the Legislature’s concern that the State’s natural resources were not being protected under then-existing laws. 

The constitutionality of Act 312 was recently challenged in M.J. Farms, Ltd. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, No. 07-CA-2371. In a unanimous opinion rendered by the Court, Act 312 was held to be not only constitutional but also applicable to legacy cases.  


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by Clay J. Countryman

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) recently issued on June 8, 2008 an advisory opinion in which CMS addressed whether a proposed physician ownership in a diagnostic center complies with the rural provider exception to the Stark Law. CMS concluded that the facts of the proposed physician ownership in the diagnostic center would satisfy the rural provider exception, but CMS also cautioned that meeting the elements of the rural provider exception is an ongoing requirement and must be continuously satisfied during the period of a physician’s ownership interest.


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by Linda G. Rodrigue

On April 16, 2008, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a trial judge’s application of a 35% minority discount in determining the fair market value of the interest of a partner withdrawing from a limited liability partnership (LLP). It appears that the Supreme Court has been asked to consider this case, but has not yet made a determination of whether to do so. Accordingly, this decision may or may not be final, and although it did not involve a health care entity, it is instructive for health law purposes.


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by Laura L. Hart

        On May 19, 2008, OSHA Directive Number 08-03 became effective. That directive provides the criteria by which OSHA will conduct the 2008 Site-Specific Targeting (“SST-08”) plan. OSHA’s SST program is the main programmed inspection plan for non-construction workplaces that have 40 or more employees.

       OSHA’s SST-08 plan has three listings of “establishments” that will be targeted. The focus of the agency’s unannounced comprehensive safety inspections under SST-08 are approximately 3,800 high-hazard workplaces contained on OSHA’s Primary List.  The workplaces on the Secondary List and Tertiary List will only be inspected pursuant to SST-08 if all of the workplaces on the Primary List are inspected. 


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by the Admiralty and Maritime Team

In the recent case of Cain v. Transocean Offshore USA, Inc., et al., No. 05-300963, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed its long standing decision that a watercraft under construction is not a “vessel in navigation” for purposes of the Jones Act.

The determination of whether a vessel is “in navigation” is a critical part of the “seaman status” analysis. Congress did not define the term “seaman” when it passed the Jones Act. Thus, it has been left to the Courts to interpret and define that term. The U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent holding defines a “seaman” as an “employee whose duties contribute to the function of a vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission, and who has connection to a vessel in navigation (or to an identifiable group of such vessels) that is substantial in terms of both its duration and nature.” Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, 515, U.S. 347, 354 (1995).


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by Linda Perez Clark

The second annual "Kean Miller Connection," a 2-day law school prep program for college students, will be held May 15th and 16th at Kean Miller’s office in Baton Rouge.

The goal of the program is to “connect” participants with information helpful to their decision to attend law school and become a lawyer. Program details and eligibility requirements (including that each participant must be a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in law school and the law practice) can be found at http://www.keanmiller.com/docs/km_connection_information.pdf.


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by Theresa R. Hagen

On January 28, 2008, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLS”) was amended as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year 2008. A copy of the amended FMLA is available at www.dol.gov. The amendments provide special leave rights to family members of certain servicemembers. There are two different types of leave rights created by the amendments:

(1) The circumstances for which up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave is available in a 12 month period are extended to include an additional qualifying reason —“because of any qualifying exigency (as the Secretary shall, by regulation, determine) arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation.” 29 USC 102(a)(1)(E). Until regulations define a “qualifying exigency”for which the leave is available, employers should not be required to extend this leave. An employer may require certification for this leave should the Secretary’s regulations provide for the manner and timing of any such certification. 29 U.S.C. Sec. 103(f).


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by Kyle B. Beall

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality recently finalized revisions to the “Comprehensive Toxic Air Pollutant Emission Control Program” set forth in LAC 33:III.Chapter 51 of the Louisiana Air Quality Regulations. A final rulemaking, first initiated in September 2005, was published in the December 20, 2007 Louisiana Register and can be obtained at the following web address: http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/tabid/2644/Default.aspx.  Unlike some states, Louisiana has its own air toxics program, which applies to major sources of “toxic air pollutants” as defined in LAC 33:III.5103. State toxic air pollutants include all federal “hazardous air pollutants” set forth in Clean Air Act § 112, and also 13 other pollutants, including ammonia, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and hydrogen sulfide.

The final rulemaking, published in AQ-256, provides for the following revisions:


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by the Admiralty and Maritime Team

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) is a new security measure established by Congress through the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) to ensure that individuals who pose a threat do not gain unescorted access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime transportation system. The TWIC is a tamper-resistant “smart card” containing an individual’s biometric (fingerprint) template to allow for a positive link between the card itself and the individual. The TWIC card is valid for five years.

Workers who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports, vessels, and outer continental shelf facilities will require a TWIC card. This includes mariners holding Coast Guard issued credentials, non-credentialed mariners in a vessel crew, facility employees who work in a secure area, truckers bringing/picking up cargo at a facility, agents, port chaplains, longshoremen, drayage truckers, surveyors, chandlers, and other maritime professionals. Facility security officers and personnel responsible for security duties are also required to obtain a TWIC card. The category of “other marine professionals” would, in this author’s opinion, include attorneys and their experts who may enter a port or other secure area to inspect vessels.


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by Kevin C. Curry

Taxpayers often own a vacation home or other residential property that they desire to exchange in a tax-deferred like kind exchange under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. Under Section 1031, no gain or loss is recognized on the exchange of property held for use in a trade or business or for investment if the property is exchanged solely for property of like kind that is to be used in either a trade or business or for investment. Personal residences and similar personal-use property generally do not qualify as property held for investment or used in a trade or business within the meaning of Section 1031. When it comes to vacation homes and similar property that a taxpayer uses occasionally for personal use, there has generally been uncertainty as to whether or not that property would qualify for a Section 1031 exchange.


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