Legacy Oil Field Sites

The 16th Judicial District Court granted a well operator’s motion for summary judgment and exception of no right of action and dismissed all of a property owner’s claims in a pending legacy oilfield suit. The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s decision in LeJeune Brothers, Inc. v. Goodrich Petroleum Co., L.L.C., et al., 2006-1557 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/28/07), __ So. 2d __, 2007 WL 4178946, rehearing denied (1/9/2008).

LeJeune Brothers, Inc. (“LeJeune”), the property owner, claimed that the Goodrich Petroleum Company, L.L.C. (“Goodrich”), a company whose predecessor had operated an oil and gas well on the property at issue, was liable to LeJeune for damages arising in tort and in contract, punitive damages, as well as damages for claims arising under the Mineral Code. Goodrich’s predecessor had operated pursuant to a mineral lease that had been executed with LeJeune’s predecessor in interest. LeJeune claimed that it was only after the purchase of the property in 2000 that it discovered that the property was contaminated with waste resulting from oilfield exploration and production activities and LeJeune maintained that it had no knowledge that the property was contaminated prior to the purchase of the property.Continue Reading Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds District Court’s Dismissal of Legacy Oil Field Plaintiff’s Contract and Tort Claims In LeJeune Brothers, Inc. v. Goodrich Petroleum Co., L.L.C., et al.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (“Exxon Mobil”) Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (2006 WL 1786680, 75 USLW 3009, 6/29/2006) and vacated the punitive damages award granted in the Grefer suit. See, Exxon Mobil Corporation v. Grefer, Joseph, et al., 05-1670 __ S.Ct. __, 2007 WL 559870 (2/26/2007).

Plaintiffs claimed that their property had been contaminated with naturally occurring radioactive material (“NORM”) as a result of the pipe cleaning operations conducted thereon. A jury rendered judgment for the plaintiffs and awarded $56.145 million in compensatory damages, $145,000 in general damages, $56 million in restoration costs, and $1 billion in exemplary/punitive damages. The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the awards of compensatory damages, general damages, and damages awarded for restoration costs, but reduced the $1billion award for punitive damages to $112.290 million.Continue Reading Grefer Judgment Vacated by Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Kean Miller is pleased to announce that 12 lawyers, formerly in the Admiralty & Maritime, Construction, and Energy practice areas with Lemle & Kelleher, LLP, have joined the firm in the New Orleans office.

“We are very excited to welcome these distinguished attorneys to our law firm. They are an outstanding resource for our clients. Our offices are located in Louisiana’s major port cities — New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles — and this esteemed group brings over 150 years of combined experience in maritime issues, admiralty law, marine insurance, oil & gas, drilling and exploration, pipelines, construction, and energy law to our clients.” said Gary A. Bezet, managing partner of the 121-lawyer firm.
Continue Reading Kean Miller Adds 12 Attorneys in Admiralty & Maritime, Construction, and Energy Practice Groups – New Orleans Office Triples in Size

As a service to the community and its clients, Kean Miller will present a Post-Katrina Energy Industry Forum on Thursday, October 13th. In addition, the firm will host its Louisiana Environmental Forum on Friday, October 14th. These two important industry events are part of a week-long breakfast briefing series designed to provide innovation, insight and ideas for business and industry in Louisiana. These breakfast briefing events will be held at Drusilla Place, 3482 Drusilla Lane (Jefferson Highway at I-12 in Baton Rouge).
Continue Reading Post-Katrina Energy and Environmental Briefings from Kean Miller

In-house counsel who are employed in Louisiana but are not licensed to practice law here have until July 1, 2005 to file an application for limited licensure to practice under the Louisiana Supreme Court’s new In-House Counsel Rule.
Continue Reading Louisiana In-House Counsel Rule Deadline Approaching

The Louisiana Fourth Circuit, in a decision sure to be appealed, recently upheld a lower court’s award of compensatory damages – and reduced the lower court’s punitive damage award – as a result of the defendants’ alleged contamination of the plaintiffs’ land with naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). Grefer, et al. v. Alpha Technical, et al., 2002-CA-1237 (La. App. 4th Cir. 3/31/05); appeal from, Civil District Court, Orleans Parish.
Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Upholds Lower Court’s Award of Compensatory Damages, Reduces Punitive Damage Award in Property Restoration Case

For several years now, some landowners have been suing oil and gas operators concerning the condition of the land subject to a mineral lease. One Louisiana court recently struggled with the issue of when a landowner/lessor can sue a lessee under a mineral lease to remediate the property.
Continue Reading Court Wrestles With Oilfield Operator Obligations During Ongoing Operations

Amicus curiae brief filed by Kean Miller Partners Bill Jarman and Linda Akchin for the American Petroleum Institute, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, and the Louisiana Independent Oil & Gas Association.

Summary:

In Terrebonne Parish School Board vs. Castex Energy, et al., the Louisiana Supreme Court has held that a mineral lessee has no implied obligation to backfill oilfield access canals when the oil company’s lease granted an express right to dredge canals and where there is no evidence that the oil company lessees exceeded the rights granted to them under the lease or acted unreasonably or negligently in dredging the canals. Article 122 of the Louisiana Mineral Code only imposes a duty to restore the surface to its original condition where there is evidence of unreasonable or excessive use of the surface of leased premises.
Continue Reading Louisiana Supreme Court Clarifies Mineral Lessee’s Surface Restoration Obligations in School Board vs. Castex Energy