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United States Supreme Court Issues First Decision in Climate Litigation

Updated from May 18, 2021 post. On May 17, 2021, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the climate change litigation affecting the fossil fuel industry. In a 7-1 decision (Justice Alito recused), the Court held that an appellate court must consider all grounds for removal when an appeal is taken pursuant to … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Update: Boundary Dispute Between Leasehold Owner and Lessees of Adjacent Tract

Bringing to mind the infamous Hatfield-McCoy family feud, Concho Resources, Inc. v. Ellison is a classic boundary dispute between a leasehold owner and neighboring lessees with allegations of fraud and more than $1 million at stake.  See 2021 WL 1432222 (Tex. Apr. 16, 2021).  The plaintiff, Martha Ellison d/b/a Ellison Lease Operating, alleged that the … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Update: TRO-X Lives to Fight Another Day in Contractual Dispute over Share of Income on Production from Equitable Interests

The Texas Supreme Court recently released its anticipated opinion in Eagle Oil & Gas Co. v. TRO-X, L.P., 18-0983, 2021 WL 1045723, at *1 (Tex. Mar. 19, 2021) (“Eagle II”).  The Eagle II case is the second case that arose between TRO-X, L.P. (“TRO-X”) and Eagle Oil & Gas Co. (“Eagle”) regarding their agreement to … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Update: The Court Decides Issue of First Impression Related to the Scope of an Oil and Gas Lease’s Free-Use Clause and Further Interprets Conflicting Royalty Clause Provisions

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued its anticipated decision in BlueStone Natural Resources II, LLC v. Randle, affirming in part and reversing in part the lower court’s ruling.  No. 19-0459, 2021 WL 936175 (Tex. Mar. 12, 2021).  The Court (1) affirmed that the lower court correctly concluded the oil and gas lease at issue explicitly … Continue Reading

Western District Rejects Disgorgement of Profits Claim for Pipeline Trespass

In Mary v. QEP Energy Company, the Western District of Louisiana rejected, for the second time in this case, Plaintiffs’ claims seeking a disgorgement of QEP’s profits.  QEP was the lessee of a mineral lease covering Plaintiffs’ property, but because it wanted to transport off-site gas across their property, QEP also obtained a pipeline servitude … Continue Reading

Future Outlook for Subsurface Trespass Claims Against Third Party Purchasers of Minerals

A recent decision from the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal may have lasting effects on good faith purchasers of oil. In Hill v. TMR Exploration, Inc, 2021 WL 267916, the First Circuit affirmed a district court ruling on summary judgment applying the good faith purchaser defense provision set forth in La. Civ. Code arts. … Continue Reading

United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Finds That Louisiana Citizen Suit Legacy Claims Can be Heard in Federal Court

In its recent decision in Grace Ranch, L.L.C. v. BP America Production Company, et al., No. 20-30224 (5th Cir. Feb. 24, 2021), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit addressed a question that has increasingly become a sticking point in Louisiana “legacy” cases:  whether claims brought under a Louisiana citizen suit provision … Continue Reading

Louisiana Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Asbestos Case

On February 3, 2021, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court’s ruling that granted a summary judgment motion finding plaintiffs failed to submit specific evidence of asbestos exposure necessary to create a genuine issue of material fact. Steib v. Lamorak Ins. Co., et al., 20-0424 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/3/21). In 2018, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Punts on Important Arbitrability Question

On January 25, 2021, the United States Supreme Court dismissed, as “improvidently granted,” a writ of certiorari it had previously granted on a petition asking it to consider “[w]hether a provision in an arbitration agreement that exempts certain claims from arbitration negates an otherwise clear and unmistakable delegation of questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator.”  … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Upholds Independent Contractor Status for E & P Company

The issue of whether a company is an independent contractor of an E & P company is frequently litigated in oilfield injury accidents, as the injured worker searches for multiple sources of possible recovery.  In McDaniel v R.J.’s Transportation, LLC,  —- So.3d —, 2021 WL115917, the Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Comstock … Continue Reading

The Meaning of “And” Determines Outcome of Oil and Gas Feud

In Tier 1 Resources Partners et al. v. Delaware Basin Resources LLC, 08-20-00060-CV, the Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas (El Paso) recently held oral argument on the proper construction of the word “and” used in a Delaware Basin oil and gas lease.  The meaning of the word is hotly contested, the … Continue Reading

It’s Heating Up: United States Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Proper Jurisdiction for Climate-Change Lawsuit

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the climate change lawsuit filed by the City of Baltimore in 2018 against energy companies. This case is one of a number of cases brought by states, cities, and other municipalities against energy companies alleging that the companies contributed to climate change. By granting certiorari … Continue Reading

Louisiana Supreme Court Addresses the Role of Louisiana Tax Commission

The Louisiana Supreme Court addressed the role of the Louisiana Tax Commission in its decision in the case of D90 Energy, LLC v. Jefferson Davis Parish Board of Review, No. 2020-C000200.   While the case addressed the property tax assessments of a specific taxpayer, its larger importance is the holding regarding the role of the Louisiana … Continue Reading

Louisiana Supreme Court Grants UNOCAL’s Writ Application from Third Circuit Decision Involving Prescription and Breach of Contract in Act 312 Case

On October 6, 2020, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted a writ application filed by UNOCAL in State of Louisiana, et al. v. Louisiana Land & Exploration Co., et al. This application sought review of the Louisiana Third Circuit’s decision that affirmed the Vermilion Parish School Board’s authority to sue on behalf of the state, rejected … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court To Review Scope of Appellate Review for Federal Officer Removal in Climate Change Litigation

Today, the United States Supreme Court granted a Petition for Certiorari filed by energy companies in Baltimore’s climate change lawsuit.  By granting the petition, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision remanding the suit to state court after rejecting the energy companies’ contention that they were acting as … Continue Reading

Louisiana Third Circuit Decision Imposes Damages for Due Process Violation on Private Company

On July 15, 2020, The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion awarding damages for a violation of due process rights against a private pipeline company.  Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC v. 38.00 Acres, More or Less, Located in St. Martin Parish, et al.[1] (“Bayou Bridge”) centers around the construction of a crude oil pipeline … Continue Reading

Louisiana’s Coastal Land Loss Litigation Produces Opinion of Interest to Appellate Practitioners in Federal Court

The jurisdictional contest over the proper forum for Louisiana’s sprawling coastal land loss litigation continues as petitions for panel and en banc rehearings on federal jurisdiction pend before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs’ strident effort to return to the state courts, located in the coastal Parishes whose governments have sued … Continue Reading

Trudging the Rocky Landscape of Royalty Dispute Litigation with the Texas Supreme Court Yet Again in BlueStone

With the prevalence of cases involving royalty disputes in Texas, the state’s Supreme Court has never hesitated to address these issues.  But the Court’s sporadic holdings regarding royalty clauses, each so specific to the particular language of the lease, have left lessees on unsteady footing.  BlueStone primes the Court to resolve a Texas appellate court … Continue Reading

Climate Change Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Kicks Climate Change Case Back to State Court

Amidst historically low oil prices and economic shutdowns, fossil fuel companies continue to defend against lawsuits brought by state and local governments claiming climate-change related damages.  In two companion cases, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided whether a federal district court could properly exercise jurisdiction over climate … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Issues New Act 312 Decision Involving Prescription and Breach of Contract

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion involving issues of prescription and breach of contract claims in the context of Act 312 and “legacy lawsuits” that oil and gas companies must remain cognizant of going forward. In State of Louisiana, et al. v. Louisiana Land & Exploration Co., et al., the … Continue Reading

ARCO v. Christian: Supreme Court Allows State Law Claims for Restoration Damages in Excess of EPA Superfund Cleanup, but EPA Must Approve Any Additional Remedial Action

This week, in a split 7-2 opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court held that Montana state law claims brought by private landowners against Atlantic Richfield Company (“ARCO”) for alleged impacts from the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site are not preempted by CERCLA and are not precluded by ARCO’s settlement of EPA’s CERCLA claims; … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit to Hold Oral Argument in Sojitz v. UNOCAL in April 2020

Last year, in another dispute over who should bear the cost of decommissioning offshore facilities, the Southern District of Texas held that a former sub-assignee of offshore operating rights was entitled to equitable subrogation from the record title owner and initial assignor.  Sojitz Energy Venture, Inc. v. Union Oil Co. of California, 394 F. Supp. … Continue Reading

Louisiana Supreme Court Addresses Res Nova Attorney Fees Issue

In Luv n’ care, Ltd. v. Jackel International Ltd., No. 2019-C-00749, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted writs to address the res nova issue of whether the “punishment for contempt of court” statute, La. R.S. 13:4611, authorizes the imposition of attorney fees against a party not adjudged guilty of contempt.  In the district court, Plaintiff, Luv … Continue Reading

Second Remand Order in Coastal Zone Management Cases Pending Before Fifth Circuit

In May 2018, oil and gas industry defendants removed a docket of 42 cases alleging violations of Louisiana’s coastal zone management laws to federal court in the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana (“CZM cases”).  One year later, the Eastern District granted motions to remand filed by Plaquemines Parish and the State of Louisiana in … Continue Reading
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