Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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EMS appealed the district court's order denying its motion to remand its suit against the City to the state court from which it was removed. The court concluded that removal was improper because none of the claims in EMS's state court civil action satisfied either the federal question or diversity requirements of original jurisdiction; the district court's prior jurisdiction over the claims asserted in City v. CLECO, which were now dismissed, did not vest the district court with jurisdiction over EMS's claims; regardless of how factually intertwined with EMS's suit, the district court's retention of jurisdiction over the post-settlement matters could not substitute for original jurisdiction for the purpose of supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1367 or removal under section 1441, given that EMS's claims were not asserted in the same proceeding as the claims in City v. CLECO; and, if Baccus v. Parrish retained any precedential value, it was distinguishable and inapposite in this instance. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Energy Mgmt. Servs. v. City of Alexandria" on Justia Law

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Under a Power Sales Agreement, the Authorities granted Entergy the right to oversee the generation of power and to purchase the generated power. Plaintiffs filed suit against Entergy after their properties were flooded and eroded after the Authorities and Entergy opened spillway gates during certain times. Because the state law property damages claims at issue here infringed on FERC's operational control, the court held that they were conflict preempted. Accordingly, the court held that the district court properly concluded that the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791-828c, preempted plaintiffs' claim for negligence. The court affirmed the district court's judgment in its entirety. View "Simmons, et al. v. Sabine River Authority, et al." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform oil spill. On appeal, BP challenged the district court's decision upholding the Claims Administrator's interpretation of the settlement agreement between it and the class of parties injured in the oil spill and the district court's dismissal of its action for breach of contract against the Administrator and denial of its motion for a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the balance of equities favored a tailored stay where those who experienced actual injury traceable to loss from the Deepwater Horizon accident continued to receive recovery but those who did not receive their payments until this case was fully heard and decided through the judicial process weighed in favor of BP. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of the preliminary injunction and instructed the district court to expeditiously craft a narrowly-tailored injunction that allowed the time necessary for deliberate reconsideration of significant issues on remand. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of BP's suit against the Claim Administrator. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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G&M filed suit against BP, asserting that it was a co-owner of both the pumping station and the land on which it sits and seeking an accounting for all revenue and profit that BP made from the pumping station. The district court granted summary judgment for BP where BP contended that the St. Julien Doctrine prescribed G&M's claim and contested G&M's assertion of co-ownership. The court concluded that the St. Julien Doctrine did not apply in this case where the bare existence of the pumping station did not demonstrate G&M's consent or acquiescence to a servitude. Nor could G&M's inaction in the expropriation action serve as the basis for finding this final element of the St. Julien Doctrine. Because G&M never acquired an ownership interest in the pumping station, the resolution of this issue turned on whether those profits were the "civil fruits" of the co-owned Tract. The district court reversed and remanded to the district court to further consider whether the profits were civil fruits of the Tract and, if so, whether G&M was therefore entitled to an accounting. View "Gulf and Miss. River Transp. Co., Ltd. v. BP Oil Pipeline Co." on Justia Law

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A severe rainstorm in 2006 caused two wastewater storage tanks at CITGO's Lake Charles Louisiana refinery to fail and over two million gallons of oil flooded into the surrounding waterways. The United States filed suit against CITGO under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1321, seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief. The district court imposed a $6 million penalty against CITGO and ordered injunctive relief. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that the motion to dismiss was properly denied where there was no diligent prosecution by the State and no jurisdictional issue to resolve; the district court needed to have made a finding on the amount of economic benefit and that such a finding was central to the ability of the district court to assess the statutory factors and for an appellate court to review that assessment; the court vacated the civil penalty award and remanded for re-evaluation; at that time, the district court should reconsider its findings with respect to CITGO's conduct, giving special attention to what CITGO knew prior to the oil spill and its delays in addressing recognized deficiencies; and the court rejected the government's argument that the district court erred with respect to its findings on the amount of oil spilled. View "United States, et al. v. Citgo Petroleum Corp." on Justia Law

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Anadarko appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Williams Alaska, arguing that Williams Alaska ignored the parties' agreements to pass through shipping credits on purchased oil. The court, construing the effect of the agreements in light of the contract and the parties' course of performance, concluded that the judgment for Williams Alaska could not stand; the agreements required Williams Alaska to remit any Quality Bank credits it received for the crude oil purchased under the contract; the court rejected Williams Alaska's contention that the obligation to remit the credits expired upon the termination of the agreement; Anadarko filed suit within the four-year statute of limitations and its suit was not time-barred; and Anadarko was entitled to interest on the unpaid Quality Bank credits from the time of breach. Accordingly, the court reversed and rendered judgment in favor of Anadarko, remanding for further proceedings. View "Anadarko Petroleum Corp. v. Williams Alaska Petroleum, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of Mississippi Gulf Coast residents and property owners, alleged that emissions by energy companies contributed to global warming, which intensified Hurricane Katrina, which, in turn, damaged their property. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that res judicata barred plaintiffs' claims because the district court's judgment in Comer I was final and on the merits. Because true res judicata compelled good repose and barred plaintiffs' claims, the court need not address whether collateral estoppel applied or decide plaintiffs' other claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Comer v. Murphy Oil USA Inc, et al" on Justia Law

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This case involved a contractual interpretation dispute over whether overriding royalties were payable out of the initial oil and gas production from a tract of land on the outer continental shelf (OCS) adjacent to Louisiana. The court concluded, under applicable Louisiana law, that the "calculate and pay" clauses in the overriding royalty interests assignment contracts did not clearly and explicitly express the intent that overriding royalty payments shall be suspended whenever the U.S. landowner royalties were suspended under the OCS Deepwater Royalty Relief Act, 43 U.S.C. 1337(a); and that the "calculate and pay" clauses must be interpreted further in search of the common intent of the parties to the assignment contracts. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Total E&P USA, Inc. v. Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas Corp, et al" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the explosion and sinking of Transocean's Deepwater Horizon in April 2010. At issue were the obligations of Transocean's primary and excess-liability insurers to cover BP's pollution-related liabilities deriving from the ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the court, applying Texas law, found that the umbrella policies between the Insurers and Transocean did not impose any relevant limitation upon the extent to which BP was an additional insured, and because the additional insured provision in the Drilling Contract was separate from and additional to the indemnity provisions therein, the court found BP was entitled to coverage under each of Transocean's policies as an additional insured as a matter of law. The court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from Chevron's involvement in litigation over the alleged environmental contamination of oil fields in Ecuador. Ecuador sought discovery from John Connor and GSI Environmental, his company, for use in a foreign arbitration against Chevron. During the course of extended litigation with Ecuador, Chevron, an intervenor in the district court, benefited repeatedly by arguing against Ecuador and others that the arbitration was a "foreign or international tribunal." Because Chevron's previous positions were inconsistent with its current argument, judicial estoppel was appropriate to make discovery under 28 U.S.C. 1782 available for Ecuador. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for determination of the scope of discovery. View "Republic of Ecuador, et al v. Connor, et al" on Justia Law