On January 9, 2018, a split panel of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an order from the district court, denying a motion to remand a matter removed under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). The 2-1 decision In Warren Lester, et. al. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et. al., No. 14-31383,
Legacy Oil Field Sites
Forest Oil: Texas Supreme Court Rejects Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Texas Railroad Commission over Oilfield Contamination Claims
The Texas Supreme Court recently handed down a decision in Forest Oil Corp. v. El Rucio Land & Cattle Co., Inc., 14-0979, 2017 WL 1541086 (Tex. Apr. 28, 2017), that at first glance, is reminiscent of the landmark Louisiana legacy cases Corbello and Magnolia Coal. Forest Oil, like Corbello, supports the…
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Affirms Application of Louisiana’s Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine
On April 18, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released a published opinion in Guilbeau v. Hess Corp. The court affirmed the application of Louisiana’s subsequent purchaser doctrine to claims for environmental damages allegedly caused by activities of a former mineral lessee prior to the date that the plaintiff…
Governor Sues Louisiana Attorney General Over Rejection of State Legal Contracts
Governor John Bel Edwards has sued Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry over Mr. Landry’s refusal to approve certain private legal counsel contracts. Governor Edwards alleges that Mr. Landry is the “chief legal officer of the state,” is “charged with the assertion or protection of any right or interest of [Louisiana],” and “is ethically required by…
Jefferson Parish Land Loss Suit Dismissed
The first of many coastal land loss lawsuits filed by Louisiana coastal parishes has proceeded to judgment, with the result being the dismissal of the case based on the failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit.
Since the filing of the politically-charged Southeastern Louisiana Flood Protection Authority lawsuit, four parishes – Plaquemines, Jefferson,…
The Louisiana Supreme Court Issues Strong Guidance about Manifest Error Standard: Hayes Fund for the First United Methodist Church of Welsh, LLC v. Kerr McGee Rocky Mountain, LLC
On December 8, 2015 the Louisiana Supreme Court attempted to clarify the manifest error appellate review standard. Hayes Fund for the First United Methodist Church of Welsh, LLC v. Kerr McGee Rocky Mountain, LLC, 2014-2592 (La. 12/8/15); — So. 3d –, pitted plaintiff mineral royalty owners against mineral lessee and working interest owner defendants…
Coastal Erosion Lawsuit against the Oil and Gas Industry Dismissed
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit that the New York Times referred to as “The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever” on February 13, 2015, with a finding that the plaintiffs did not state a viable claim for relief.
The Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (“SLFPA-E” or “Authority”) filed a lawsuit…
Update: Punitive Damages – “One Bite of the Apple” or Exception to Res Judicata
As previously reported, the Louisiana Supreme Court heard oral argument in Oleszkowicz v. Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation, et al. and Chauvin v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., regarding the dispute as to whether claims for punitive damages are barred by res judicata. The court recently issued opinions in these cases.
To recap, a…
Punitive Damages: “One Bite of the Apple” or Exception to Res Judicata
The Louisiana Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in two cases, Oleszkowicz v. Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation, et al. and Chauvin v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., both involving a plaintiff’s damages for potential exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). This is the second lawsuit for both plaintiffs against the same defendant, for the…
Act 312 – Louisiana Legislature Passes New Measures to Speed Remediation Process
After the 2003 Corbello decision, the Louisiana legislature attempted to enact a workable procedure for recovering environmental damages arising from oil and gas operations known as Act 312. The main goal of Act 312 was to ensure that property contaminated by oilfield operations would be cleaned up to applicable regulatory standards. Since the enactment of Act 312, very few cases have made it through the Act 312 process. Thus, in an attempt to expedite the identification and remediation of contaminated property, the Louisiana legislature recently passed two new measures revising the Act 312 procedure.
Summary of the New Legislation
The first measure (a House bill enacted as Act 754) amends the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure to provide for:
- The issuance of an environmental management order (EMO) to expedite site inspections and sampling, and
- A limited admission of environmental liability that allows defendants to begin to remediate property before trial (limited to the most feasible plan to remediate the property).
The second measure (a Senate bill enacted as Act 779) provides for a number of amendments to Act 312:
- Allows a plaintiff to provide a notice of intent to investigate potential environmental damage that suspends prescription of the claim for one year upon the notice being provided to LDNR,
- Requires the plaintiff to identify the alleged environmental damage and the results of any environmental testing if a lawsuit is filed after a notice of intent to investigate is filed,
- Permits a defendant to request an early preliminary hearing to determine whether there is good cause for it to remain a defendant in the case,
- Grants subpoena power over agency personnel involved in developing the feasible plan and allows for discovery regarding the development of the plan after a final plan has been submitted,
- Prohibits ex parte communications with agencies, officials, and contractors who are involved in formulating the feasible plan,
- Requires the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources, along with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), to comment if LDNR approves or structures a preliminary plan that applies regulations other than those of LDNR, and
- Provides for a waiver of indemnity rights against punitive damages caused by a party who admits limited liability.
Continue Reading Act 312 – Louisiana Legislature Passes New Measures to Speed Remediation Process