By Jessica Gladney
In Broussard v. Hilcorp Energy Corp., 08-233, 2008 WL 5158887 (La. App. 3 Cir. 12/10/08) the plainiffs owned five separate and incongruous tracts of land located in three sections in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. Mineral, surface, and subsurface leases on the various properties have been granted to seven separate entities for oil and gas operations on the property. Kern Broussard first filed suit in the Civil District Court of Orleans Parish against the various entities and their successors in interest for alleged damage and concealment of damage to the property as a result of oil and gas operations. The case was then transferred to Vermillion Parish, Louisiana pursuant to exceptions filed by the defendants for improper venue. A number of exceptions were raised by the defendants in Vermillion Parish, to include the exception of improper cumulation of actions. The trial judge ultimately granted the exceptions and dismissed the plaintiffs’ action without prejudice on May 7, 2007.
On appeal, the Third Circuit held that the actions were improperly cumulated. As recognized by the court, the properties that were allegedly contaminated were on five incongruous tracts located in three separate sections, and different parties were alleged to have contributed to the contamination on each tract. Furthermore, the proof of damages, if any, would be entirely separate for each tract. These factors contributed to the court’s ultimate conclusion that the claims do not share a community of interest and the actions were improperly joined.