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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

Ethical Obligations in Technology Assisted Review

Technology Assisted Review (TAR), also known as predictive coding or computer-assisted review, has been defined as “[a] process for prioritizing or coding a collection of documents using a computerized system that harnesses human judgments of one or more subject matter expert(s) on a smaller set of documents and then extrapolates those judgments to the remaining … Continue Reading

Riding to the Danger Zone: U.S. Fifth Circuit Panel Considers the Zone-of-Danger Test for Maritime Emotional Distress

In In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 20-30300, 2021 WL 96168, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held that fishermen who intentionally came upon the scene of the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon failed to state a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress under general maritime law.  The district court … 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

Is the Frequency of Louisiana Environmental Quality Act Citizen Suit Litigation Increasing?

In 2003, the Louisiana Supreme Court rendered its landmark decision in Corbello, et al. v. Iowa Production, et al.  Since then, Louisiana courts have seen a steady stream of “legacy litigation” claims being filed.  Legacy litigation claims generally concern alleged contamination arising from historic oil and gas operations under theories of both breach of contract … 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

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

U.S. Fifth Circuit Clarifies “Substantial Nexus” Test for LHWCA

In Mays v. Chevron Pipe Line Co., 2020 WL 4432025, a three-judge panel of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal held on August 3, 2020, that the Longshore Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act may apply to an injury in state territorial waters if there is a substantial nexus between an employee’s injury and his … Continue Reading

Louisiana Governor Signs 2020 Tort Reform Legislation

One of the major outcomes of the 2020 Louisiana Legislative session was the passage of tort reform legislation that supporters argue will lower insurance rates and change the state’s notoriously litigious environment. The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, House Bill 57 (“HB57”) introduces a number of key changes: Allows jury trials if damages sought … 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

OSHA Addresses Reporting COVID-19 Cases as Job-Related and In-Person Workplace Inspections

On May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued two noteworthy enforcement memos. The first memo announced the reversal of OSHA’s April 10, 2020 policy that limited the requirement to track on-the-job cases of COVID-19 to health-care facilities, emergency response providers, and corrections facilities. The new policy, which goes into effect on May 26, … Continue Reading

Louisiana and Texas COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders and Effects on State Courts

This article was updated on April 14, 2020. Day-to-day life has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and many courts in Louisiana and Texas have been forced to close or limit operations in conjunction with stay-at-home orders.  A brief discussion of how COVID-19 has affected Louisiana and Texas courts is discussed here.… Continue Reading

COVID-19 as a Force Majeure? The Texas and Louisiana Perspectives

Today, countries worldwide are responding to a pandemic of respiratory disease spreading from person-to-person caused by a novel coronavirus.  The disease has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).  The pandemic poses a serious public health risk, and government response has included closure of schools and businesses, declarations of emergency, and issuance of a variety … 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

En Banc Fifth Circuit Issues Long-Awaited Ruling on Federal Officer Removal

The Fifth Circuit recently issued an en banc opinion in Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc.,[1] a case previously featured on the Blog, overruling “extraordinarily confused” precedent and establishing a new removal test under the Federal Officer Removal Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1).  This new test is likely to have significant impact on future removals to … Continue Reading
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