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
Louisiana Third Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Royalty and Other Claims Based Upon Prescription
In a straightforward application of Louisiana’s prescriptive principles, the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit affirmed the trial court’s grant of exceptions of prescription, finding plaintiff’s claims for fraud, under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA), and for unpaid royalties all prescribed in Karen May v. The Succession of Mayo Romero. …
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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 Third Circuit 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 concluded that a finding of “environmental damage” as defined under Act 312 is sufficient to trigger a breach of contract claim.
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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 n’ care, Ltd. (“LNC”), brought a contempt proceeding against defendants, Jackel International Ltd., et al. (“Jackel”), for allegedly violating a permanent injunction previously entered in LNC’s favor. While LNC was unsuccessful on its motion for contempt, the district court not only denied the motion, but also awarded a substantial attorney fee award to Jackel as the “prevailing party in a contempt proceeding” based on the recently amended language of La. R.S. 13:4611(1)(g).…
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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 Parish of Plaquemines v. Riverwood Production Company, et al. (“Riverwood”), No. 18-5217, 2019 WL 2271118 (E.D. La. May 28, 2019). The Western District recently joined the Eastern District and granted similar remand motions filed by Cameron Parish and the State of Louisiana in Parish of Cameron, et al. v. Auster Oil & Gas Incorporated, et al. (“Auster”), No. 18-677, 2019 WL 4734394 (W.D. La. Sept. 26, 2019), —F. Supp. 3d—. Although there are procedural differences between Riverwood and Auster, both district courts found no federal officer or federal question jurisdiction over the CZM cases. The Fifth Circuit is poised to resolve these jurisdictional issues in the upcoming year. …
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Louisiana’s Third Circuit (Again) Affirms the Applicability of the Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine to Mineral Leases
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.
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Louisiana Third Circuit Issues Decision on the Procedure for Settlements in Cases Governed by Act 312
In a decision issued today, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal issued the first appellate court opinion addressing the procedure for approval of settlements in cases governed by Act 312 (La. R.S. 30:29). Britt v. Riceland Petroleum Corp., is a “legacy” lawsuit in which landowners sued Riceland Petroleum Company and BP America Production Company—the current and former operators on a certain tract of plaintiffs’ property. Riceland and BP ultimately chose to settle all of the claims that Plaintiffs brought against them, and as part of the settlement they agreed to remediate the landowners’ property to the necessary state standards. The settling parties then complied with the express mandates of Act 312 as they: (1) provided notice of the settlement to the Department of Natural Resources (“LDNR”) and Attorney General (“AG”); (2) allowed the LDNR at least thirty days to review the settlement and provide any comments to the trial court; and, (3) sought and obtained the trial court’s approval of the settlement.
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Louisiana Supreme Court Grants Writs from Second Circuit Decision Finding Holder of Mortgage Encumbering a Mineral Lease Solidarily Liable with Mineral Lessees for Damages Resulting from the Mineral Lessees’ Breach of Contractual and Statutory Obligations
On Friday, December 15, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted three separate writ applications filed by each of the defendants in Gloria’s Ranch, L.L.C. v. Tauren Exploration, Inc. These applications sought review of the Louisiana Second Circuit’s June 2, 2017 decision affirming the trial court’s ruling that Wells Fargo, a mortgage lender with a security interest in a mineral lease, was solidarily liable with its borrowers (the mineral lessees) for a breach of the mineral lessees’ contractual and statutory obligations to produce in paying quantities, pay royalties, and respond to the mineral lessor’s demands regarding those obligations. …
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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 of relevant Louisiana appellate court rulings as a “mishmash of appellate jurisprudence,” noting instead that “a clear consensus has emerged among all Louisiana appellate courts that have considered the issue.”…
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Fifth Circuit Holds that Unpatented Products Can Be Given Patent-Like Protection by Contract
In a breach of contract case involving the overlay of intellectual property and contract law, Luv n’ care, Ltd, a global leader in the design and sale of baby products, filed suit against its former distributor, Groupo Rimar, a.k.a. Suavinex, S.A. (“Suavinex”), for breach of Suavinex’s contractual obligation not to copy any of Luv n’ care’s product designs.
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