The subsequent purchaser doctrine has been litigated extensively in Louisiana legacy cases involving claims for oilfield remediation.  The doctrine provides that a current landowner has no standing to bring a lawsuit for property damage that occurred prior to its acquisition absent a valid assignment from the prior landowner of the personal right to sue.  However, until now, no appellate court had addressed whether the doctrine barred a claim brought by a closely held or family-owned company who acquired the property in an intra-family transfer.  In Louisiana Wetlands, LLC v. Energen Resources Corporation, 2021-0290 (La. App. 1 Cir. 10/4/21), 2021 WL 4548529, —So. 3d—, the Louisiana First Circuit answered this question in the affirmative, holding that the subsequent purchaser doctrine applies to property transfers from family members to a company which they also own.
Continue Reading Louisiana First Circuit Applies Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine to Property Transfer Involving Closely Held LLC

On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed the question of whether the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court holding in Vaughan v. Atkinson, 369 U.S. 527 (1962) requires courts hearing maintenance and cure cases to construe disputed medical evidence in the seaman’s favor. In Witbart v. Mandara Spa (Hawaii), LLC

On June 29, 2021, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, held that a natural gas company’s right to condemn property for a pipeline under the Natural Gas Act includes the right to condemn state-owned property. In PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey,[1] the divided Court held that a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) entitled PennEast Pipeline Company (PennEast) to use the federal government’s power of eminent domain to seize property owned by the State of New Jersey.
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Blocks New Jersey’s Sovereign Immunity Challenge to FERC Certificate Holder’s Condemnation of State-Owned Land

The Louisiana legislature has passed new laws requiring employers to provide accommodations for certain pregnant employees and limiting an employer’s use of an applicant’s criminal history in hiring decisions.  Both laws become effective on August 1, 2021.

Amendment to Pregnancy Accommodation Law

By Act No. 393 of the 2021 Regular Session, Louisiana’s nondiscrimination

TC Energy Corporation stated that it filed a notice of intent with the U.S. Department of State that it will make a claim against the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The claim will be based on President Biden’s January 2021 revocation of TC Energy’s Keystone XL Pipeline permit.
Continue Reading TC Energy’s $15B Claim Against U.S. for Biden’s Revocation of Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. v. Sheppard is a royalty dispute between several lessees, Devon Energy Production Co., L.P., et. al., and several lessors, Michael A. Sheppard, et. al., concerning a novel royalty term that may have a huge impact on the way oil and gas royalties are paid in the future.  See 13-19-00036-CV, 2020 WL 6164467, at *12 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Oct. 22, 2020, pet. filed).  The novel term, referred to as an “add-back” or “add-to-proceeds” provision, requires any deductions to the sale of production to be added back to the proceeds in order to determine the appropriate royalty base.  The lessors argue that under this term, the deductions in the lessees’ sales contracts attributable to the buyers’ post-transfer costs must be added to the gross proceeds in order to establish a royalty base above the gross proceeds.  The lessees disagree, countering that the clear intent of the provision is merely to prohibit the deduction of their own post-production costs, not the post-transfer costs of the buyers.  The lessors won in the trial court; the court of appeals affirmed.  Now the case is before the Texas Supreme Court, with a recently submitted amicus brief containing the argument that could turn the tides back in the lessees’ favor.
Continue Reading New Developments in Shocking Case Before the Texas Supreme Court Regarding Construction of Novel Oil & Gas Royalty Term

On June 30, 2021, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an opinion redefining the nature of available damages and the “actual, statutorily permitted role of the jury in Act 312 remediation lawsuits.” The “LL&E II” decision finds that Act 312 charges the court, not the jury, to determine the funding needed to remediate property to government standards. If (and only if) an express contractual provision requires greater remediation than government standards, a jury may consider and award such “excess remediation” damages. State of Louisiana v. Louisiana Land and Exploration Co., 2020-00685 (La. 6/30/2021); — So. 3d — (“LL&E II”).[1]

Continue Reading Overturning 8 Years of “Palpable Error,” The Louisiana Supreme Court Limits Damages Available to Landowners in Oilfield Legacy Litigation

In Lexington Land Development, L.L.C. v. Chevron Pipelines Company, et al., 2020-0622 (La. App. 1 Cir. 5/25/21), 2021 WL 2102932, —So. 3d—, the Louisiana First Circuit recently reaffirmed well-settled principles regarding prescription and the subsequent purchaser doctrine in Louisiana legacy cases.
Continue Reading Louisiana First Circuit Reaffirms Prescription and Subsequent Purchaser Principles

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana granted Plaintiff States’ request for an injunction to block the Biden Administration’s pause on new federal oil and gas lease sales (“Lease Pause”).  Louisiana v. Biden, Jr., Case No. 2:21-cv-00778-TAD-KK, 2021 WL 2154963 (W.D. La. June 15, 2021).
Continue Reading Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Halting the Biden Administration’s “Pause” on New Oil and Gas Lease Sales

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 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d), a provision that specifically authorizes interlocutory appeal of an order remanding a case removed pursuant to the federal officer removal statute.
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Issues First Decision in Climate Litigation