Writ applications have been filed with the Louisiana Supreme Court in two oilfield pollution cases that have the potential to dramatically impact the scope of the numerous legacy lawsuits currently pending throughout the state.
In the case of Dore Energy Corporation v. Carter-Langham, Inc. et al., 2005-C-1582, on application for writ of certiorari from the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, 2004-CA-1373 (La. App. 3rd Cir. 5/4/05), on appeal from the 38th Judicial Court, Cameron Parish, both the plaintiff and defendants have filed for writs as a result of the decision of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal as to the issue of when does a mineral lessee’s duty to restore the leased premises arise. In this case, the Third Circuit in part overruled a trial court ruling granting defendants’ exception of prematurity which barred plaintiff from proceeding with its claims for restoration damages for property subject to a mineral lease still in effect. The Dore Energy case is one of five consolidated cases in which writs have been sought on this same issue
In the case of Joseph Grefer, et al. v. Alpha Technical, et al., 2005-C-1590 and 2005-C-1259, on application for writ of certiorari from the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, 2002-CA-1237 (La. App. 4th Cir. 3/31/05), on appeal from the Civil District Court, Orleans Parish, both plaintiffs and defendants have filed for writs as a result of the decision of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal as to the amount of punitive damages appropriate in this matter. In addition, defendants have also sought writs on the issue of the applicability of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) standards for the remediation of property impacted by Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) and whether compliance with said standards is deemed to be a “reasonable” restoration under Louisiana law. In this case, the Fourth Circuit held that it was not error for the trial court to refuse to instruct the jury as to the applicable LDEQ standards for the remediation of NORM-contaminated property.
Defendants’ writ application in Grefer is supported by amicus briefs filed by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, and the Louisiana Chemical Association. (Kean Miller filed the amicus curiae brief in this case on behalf of the Louisiana Chemical Association.)
In both of these matters, the Louisiana Supreme Court has before it cases that will potentially allow the court to revisit its prior decisions in the Roman Catholic Church and Corbello cases that have been the basis for many of these oilfield legacy cases. To date, the Louisiana Supreme Court has not issued its decision as to whether to grant writs in either of these cases.