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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 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

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

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

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

As it “is impossible to transfer rights to an assignee under an expired mineral lease,” in a case where oil, gas and mineral leases had expired prior to plaintiff’s acquisition of the property, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Litel Explorations, L.L.C. v. Aegis Development Company, L.L.C., et al. affirmed dismissal of claims pursuant to the subsequent purchaser doctrine, which provides that the right to sue for property damage is a personal right that belongs to the landowner who owned the property at the time the damage occurred, unless the right has been explicitly assigned or subrogated to the subsequent purchaser of the land.
Continue Reading Louisiana Third Circuit Confirms Settled Application of Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine Where Expired Mineral Leases at Issue

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 a prescription defense on the basis of prescription immunity under the Louisiana Constitution, and found that “environmental damage” as defined under Act 312 is sufficient to trigger a breach of contract claim. A detailed summary of the Third Circuit’s decision can be found here.
Continue Reading Louisiana Supreme Court Grants UNOCAL’s Writ Application from Third Circuit Decision Involving Prescription and Breach of Contract in Act 312 Case

While oil and gas company-defendants—and several courts alike—have deemed the applicability of the subsequent purchaser doctrine to mineral leases a settled issue of law, plaintiff-landowners have continued to argue otherwise.  In a unanimous opinion issued July 18, 2018 in Grace Ranch, LLC v. BP America Production Company, et al., the Third Circuit not only provides yet another example of the uniform application of the doctrine in cases involving mineral rights under Louisiana law, but expressly and thoroughly rejects the numerous arguments on which plaintiffs-landowners have continued to rely.
Continue Reading Louisiana’s Third Circuit (Again) Affirms the Applicability of the Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine to Mineral Leases

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”) approving a plan “to evaluate or remediate” the environmental damage. La. R.S. 30:29(C)(2)(a). Thereafter the trial court “shall adopt the plan approved by the [DNR] unless another party proves by a preponderance of the evidence that another plan is more feasible,” id. 30:29(C)(5). 
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