Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Great Lakes filed suit against ESML for breach of contract. ESML later filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but the district court denied the motion. The case proceeded to trial and judgment was entered for Great Lakes. The court agreed with the district court that the Natural Gas Act (NGA), 15 U.S.C. 717u, does not create an express cause of action under which Great Lakes may sue for breach of contract; the NGA also does not create an implied cause of action where there is no indication of legislative intent to create a federal cause of action displacing traditional state law breach of contract causes of action; and assuming that the district court correctly held that federal issues were “necessarily raised” and “actually disputed,” the court concluded that the federal issues in this case are not “substantial,” and the federal courts cannot exercise federal question jurisdiction “without disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.” Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. View "Great Lakes Gas Transmission v. Essar Steel Minnesota LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the state claiming, inter alia, that the prohibitions in the Minnesota Next Generation Energy Act, Minn. Stat. 216H.03, subd. 3(2) and (3), violate the Commerce Clause. The statute is intended to reduce statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions by prohibiting utilities from meeting Minnesota demand with electricity generated by a new large energy facility in a transaction that will contribute to or increase statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions. The district court granted plaintiffs summary judgment and a permanent injunction. The court concluded that plaintiffs meet the Article III standing requirement where Plaintiff Basin can demonstrate a probable economic injury resulting from governmental action; plaintiffs' claims are ripe for judicial review because the issues are predominately legal, and the challenged prohibitions are currently causing hardship by interfering with the ability of plaintiffs such as Basin to plan, invest in, and conduct their business operations; the district court did not err in declining to abstain under Railroad Commission of Texas v. Pullman Co.; the district court correctly concluded that the challenged prohibitions have the practical effect of controlling conduct beyond the boundaries of Minnesota; the statute has extraterritorial reach and will impose Minnesota’s policy of increasing the cost of electricity by restricting use of the currently most cost-efficient sources of generating capacity from prohibited sources anywhere in the grid, absent Minnesota regulatory approval or the dismantling of the federally encouraged and approved MISO transmission system; Minnesota may not do this without the approval of Congress; and the district court did not err by enjoining the defendant state officials from enforcing the prohibitions. The court dismissed plaintiffs' cross-appeal as moot. View "North Dakota v. Heydinger" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, individually and as surviving spouse of Arlie Walls, filed suit against Petrohawk alleging claims related to an oil and gas lease. The court concluded that Petrohawk's failure to pay royalties in a timely manner did not substantially defeat the purpose of the contract and therefore does not constitute a material breach of contract; plaintiff waived the breaches with respect to all of the assignments except the Petrohawk-Exxon assignment; the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiff unreasonably withheld consent to the assignment from Petrohawk to Exxon; the language of the lease does not support plaintiff's argument that the lease holds Petrohawk liable for breaches of previous assignees, specifically Alta; and plaintiff is not entitled to statutory penalties because she failed to make factual allegations of Petrohawk's willfulness or bad faith. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Walls v. Petrohawk Properties, LP" on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from a dispute regarding the continued validity of an oil and gas lease covering land in Williams County, North Dakota. Appellants challenged the district court's grant of Northern Oil's and Limsco's motions for summary judgment. The court found Northern Oil and Limsco’s interpretation more persuasive and thus adopted their position that the Pugh clause in the lease divides the lease at PLSS-section boundaries. The court agreed with the district court that the lease remains valid because production from other areas in Section 3 maintains the lease as to the entire section and affirmed the judgment. View "Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. v. Moen" on Justia Law