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U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms $20 Million Judgment Against Barge Owner as Responsible Party Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990

Case:     United States v. American Commercial Lines, L.L.C., No. 16-31150, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 11/7/17). Factual Background In July of 2008, nearly 300,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi River in New Orleans when a tugboat towing an oil-filled barge veered across the river into the path of an ocean-going tanker.  American Commercial … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Affirms Trial Court’s Refusal to Adopt DNR’s Most Feasible Plan in Sweet Lake Land & Oil Co. v. Oleum Operating Company

The Louisiana Legislature passed “Act 312,” La. R.S. 30:29, in 2006 to provide a procedure for ensuring that amounts awarded to remediate environmental damage are actually spent on remediation.  Act 312 sets forth a multi-step scheme that is triggered once a party is found responsible for environmental damage, culminating with Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) … Continue Reading

Plaintiffs and Defendants Jointly Choose First Cases for Trial in Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Management Act Litigation

The first five Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”) cases to be set for trial have been chosen. The Plaintiffs selected Parish of Plaquemines v. Rozel Operating Company, et al., Parish of Plaquemines v. ConocoPhillips Company, et al., and Parish of Plaquemines v. Hilcorp Energy Company, et al.  The Defendants picked Parish of Plaquemines v. … Continue Reading

The Fifth Circuit Rejects the DOJ’s Attempt to Charge Black Elk Contractors with OCSLA Felonies

In the aftermath of a 2012 platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in which three workers were killed, the Department of Justice ultimately indicted the contractors who supervised the work (along with the lease holder, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC) with violating the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (“OCSLA”), a felony carrying a … Continue Reading

Federal Court Finds A Continuing Duty Under Louisiana Law To Prevent The Erosion of Pipeline Canals

A recent decision from the Eastern District of Louisiana provides a mixed bag for pipeline companies or others whose operations involve canals.  Significantly, the decision from Judge Milazzo holds that during the existence of a right-of-way/servitude, Louisiana servitude law imposes a continuing duty to prevent canals from expanding and widening over time, unless unambiguous contractual … Continue Reading

Dusky Gopher Frog’s Louisiana Critical Habitat Spawns U.S. Supreme Court Writ

A group of Louisiana landowners, Weyerhaeuser Company, and the Pacific Legal Foundation filed Petitions for Writs of Certiorari this month asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) decision to designate 1,544 acres of private land in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana as critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher … Continue Reading

Plaquemines Parish Amends Petition for Damages In Coastal Zone Management Act Litigation

The Parish of Plaquemines amended its petitions in two of the Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”) cases on June 19, 2017.  Prior to the amendment of the petitions, Judge Clement sustained Defendants’ Exceptions of Vagueness in the two cases, namely: The Parish of Plaquemines v. Rozel Operating Co., et al. and The Parish of Plaquemines … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Greenlights Contribution Action for Purely Economic Damages Under Oil Pollution Act (OPA)

In Settoon Towing, L.L.C. v. Marquette Transportation Company, L.L.C., No. 16-30459 (5th Cir. Jun. 9, 2017), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held for the first time that a Responsible Party under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”) has a statutory claim for contribution to recover purely economic damages from a partially … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of “Good Faith” for Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Claims

On June 1, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. applied a broad definition of the intent required of a plaintiff under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Act.  In doing so, both the Fifth Circuit and the Louisiana Supreme Court apply a more plaintiff friendly standard to claims … Continue Reading

U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms Application of the Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine in Oilfield Contamination Case, Recognizes “Clear Consensus” Among Louisiana Appellate Courts, and Declines Certification to the Louisiana Supreme Court

In Guilbeau v. Hess Corporation, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the application of Louisiana’s subsequent purchaser doctrine to bar a plaintiff’s claims for property damage resulting from alleged oilfield contamination that occurred prior to his purchase of the property.  The court specifically rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to characterize the multitude … Continue Reading

Leave It to the States: Oklahoma Federal Court Dismisses Fracking Suit In Favor Of Administrative Regulation

On April 4, 2017, a federal district court dismissed a citizen-enforcement action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that could have profound impact on fracking suits against the oil and gas industry. In Sierra Club v. Chesapeke Operating, LLC, the Sierra Club alleged that the deep injection of liquid waste from oil and gas … Continue Reading

A Summary of Professor Jim Rossi’s Lecture on the “Federalism Battles in Energy Transportation”

Professor Jim Rossi’s lecture on “Federalism Battles in Energy Transportation,” specifically whether the federal or state government is the proper authority to exercise its eminent domain and regulatory power. … Continue Reading

The Dusky Gopher Frog Lives to Fight Another Day: Fifth Circuit Denies Rehearing

On February 13, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Defendants’ Petition for Rehearing En Banc in the case titled Markle Interests, L.L.C., et al. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, et al. The Defendants, who are timber and commercial developers, requested that the Court rehear the June 30, 2016 panel … Continue Reading

Oregon Federal Court Issues Remarkable Decision Finding Constitutional Right to Stable Climate

Photo of a blue sky with white, fluffy cloudsOn November 10, 2016, Judge Ann Aiken, a federal district judge in Oregon, issued a remarkable environmental law decision in which she found that a climate system “capable of sustaining human life” is a fundamental constitutional right.[1] Juliana v. United States challenges the constitutionality of the United States’ decades-long policy on climate change.[2] The plaintiffs, … Continue Reading

FERC Rejects Sierra Club’s Request for Rehearing and Green Lights $3.5B LNG Export Facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana

On November 23, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirmed its authorization of the construction of a $3.5 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana and rejected the Sierra Club’s request for rehearing on the matter. In an April 15, 2016 Order, FERC authorized Magnolia LNG, LLC to site, construct, … Continue Reading

EPA Publishes Proposed Renewables Enhancement and Growth Support Rule

On November 11, 2016, the EPA published a proposed rule designed to update its Renewable Fuel Standards Program and support the growth of renewable fuel use. With the stated goal of removing barriers to production and distribution of renewable fuels, the proposed rule has three main components: (1) Updated Regulatory Structure to Address Biofuel Processing at … Continue Reading

THE DISPUTE BETWEEN GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS AND ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF LANDRY OVER THE APPOINTMENT OF PRIVATE LEGAL COUNSEL CONTINUES…

On September 30, 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards sued Attorney General Jeff Landry to compel him to approve several contracts between the Governor’s office and private legal counsel. In his Petition, the Governor alleged that the Attorney General’s role in approving the Governor’s contracts with private legal counsel is a ministerial duty that the Attorney General … Continue Reading

New Government Contractor “Blacklisting” Reporting Requirements Put on Hold

Hours before a controversial set of new reporting requirements for government contractors was set to take effect, a federal court in Texas enjoined implementation of the requirements across the country.… Continue Reading

Contra Non Not Applicable: Louisiana Appellate Court Refuses to Find Exception to Running of Prescription

Sophisticated plaintiffs beware.  In Bayou Fleet, Inc. v. Bollinger Shipyards, Inc., et al., the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal concluded that contra non valentem, a judicially created exception to prescription, did not apply to prevent the running of prescription on a claim for wrongful conversion when the plaintiff company, the owner of a destroyed … Continue Reading

Attorney General Finds Governor’s Contract for Legal Services Not Approvable, Unacceptable, Illegal, and Unconstitutional

The dispute between Governor John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry over the retention of several private attorneys to represent the State of Louisiana, through the Department of Natural Resources (“LDNR”) in coastal loss litigation has taken a new twist.  These lawsuits were filed by several parish governments alleging dozens of oil and gas … Continue Reading

Louisiana Flooding – Legal Update

The Liskow & Lewis family stands by our friends and neighbors throughout the unprecedented flooding in our community. As we begin the long process of recovery, here is a brief legal update on the response of various courts and state agencies: State courts: Governor John Bel Edwards has issued an executive order which purports to suspend … Continue Reading

First Parish Coastal Zone Lawsuit to Proceed to Decision Falls for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

The first of 40 coastal permitting lawsuits to proceed to disposition has been dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In a ruling released today, Judge Enright of the 24th JDC for Jefferson Parish dismissed The Parish of Jefferson v. Atlantic Richfield Company, finding that the statutory scheme at issue provided administrative channels to investigate and … Continue Reading

The Dusky Gopher Frog Causes Big Problems for Industrial and Commercial Development in Parts of St. Tammany Parish

In 2010, under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“the FWS”) designated 6,477 acres in Mississippi and Louisiana as “critical habitat” for the Rana sevosa or the dusky gopher frog.  This frog has historically lived in nine counties or parishes across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  Since its 2001 designation … Continue Reading
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