Header graphic for print
Energy & the Law

Category Archives: Litigation

Subscribe to Litigation RSS Feed

Oil and Gas Arbitration – Did the Parties Get What They Bargained For?

Posted in Contract Disputes, Litigation

First, a promise: I won’t report on another arbitration case until there is more to say than “business as usual”. Second, an opinion: Arbitration is still the right forum in many situations. Third, remember: An award and a result, not litigation, was what Venoco says it bargained for. That said, knowing only that Denbury Onshore v. Texcal Energy South Texas is… Continue Reading

Have You Reviewed Your Lease Maintenance Processes Lately?

Posted in Contract Disputes, Litigation

You might conclude that the but-for-the-grace-of-God-that-could-be-me nightmare presented in In re: RPH Capital Partners is instructive only for lawyers. If so, you would be mistaken. The lesson: If you want to win the lawsuit, pay attention to pesky legalities such as notices of trial settings. Likewise, if you want to protect your hydrocarbons, reinforce your people and processes for… Continue Reading

Arbitration in Louisiana – Another Budding Romance?

Posted in Contract Disputes, Litigation

Are Louisiana courts as enamored with arbitration as their Texas counterparts? Looks like it. East of the Sabine, submitting your dispute to arbitration means you are pretty much saying adieu, farewell and bye-bye to a judicial mulligan. In ExPert Oil & Gas, LLC v. Mack Energy Co., et al an arbitrator’s mistaken calculation did not nullify an arbitration award. Round one ExPert… Continue Reading

Louisiana Statutory Penalties Imposed on Operator

Posted in Legislation, Litigation, Pooling and Unitization

If you’ve ever tried to escape penalties for the operator/producer’s failure to comply with La. R.S §30:103.1 and §103.2, take comfort in XXI Oil & Gas, LLC v. Hilcorp Energy Company.  You are not alone. No excuse has satisfied the courts, and there is none here. The statutes (links above) require information and certain procedures… Continue Reading

Control-of-Well Insurance: The Words of the Policy Control

Posted in Litigation, operations

Gemini Insurance Company at al v.  Drilling Risk Management Inc construed control-of-well and redrill/extra-expense provisions in an insurance contract. The question and the rule The question was whether an insurance policy covered post-blowout expenses (see facts below), and whether each blowout constituted a separate “occurrence”? If so, there would be two deductibles. The rule is… Continue Reading

Title Suit Booted for Failure to Join Parties

Posted in Lease Disputes, Litigation, Title Issues

Longoria v. ExxonMobil is like throwing a big party but failing to invite all the right guests. The Longorias – 59 of them – sued producer-defendants over ownership of 9,200 acres in Brooks County, Texas, acquired in the 1800’s. Plaintiffs claimed their ownership was not recognized in subsequent conveyances and judgments and sought an accounting,… Continue Reading

Securities Fraud – a Lesson for Promoters

Posted in Litigation, Regulations

We discussed SEC v. Arcturus et al last week and promised more. Here it is. Did defendants commit securities fraud? It doesn’t matter. Violations of Sections 5 of the Securities Act and 15.A of the Exchange Act are strict liability offenses; the defendant’s state of mind is not a consideration.  Thus, because they sold unregistered securities… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Nuisance Law

Posted in Litigation

Gardiner v. Crosstex North Texas Pipeline LLC, has brought clarity to Texas nuisance law. It took the Texas Supreme Court 54 pages; we have it in under 600 words. (We explained the lower court case here.) “Nuisance” now refers, not to a defendant’s conduct or a legal claim or cause of action, but to a type… Continue Reading

A Development in Trade-Secret Cases

Posted in Contract Disputes, Litigation

Co-author Skyler Stuckey The big trade-secret case, Southwestern Energy v. Berry-Helfand, reported on these pages here and here, has been worked over by the Texas Supreme Court. Highlights: Lack of certainty in damages does not preclude recovery. A “Flexible and imaginative” approach to damages in trade secret cases has its limits For the limitations clock to begin… Continue Reading

A Corporate Opportunity? … Stolen?

Posted in Litigation

Co-author Alexandria Moore If you want to get to the meaning of a case, one exercise is to put yourself in the shoes of one participant or the other and see how you react to the events. (This also works well with Bible stories, by the way.) Last week we discussed Huff Energy fund LP v. Longview Energy… Continue Reading

What is a Corporate Opportunity?

Posted in Litigation

Co-author Alexandria Moore Let’s say two fellows are in the oil business and one of his activities is as a director of an exploration company. A deal comes in, they present it to the company, but take it for themselves, Did they steal the opportunity from the company? In Huff  Energy Fund LP v. Longview… Continue Reading

Wage and Hour Claims Menace Producers

Posted in Litigation, Regulations

Co-author Michael Kelsheimer It’s common knowledge: Fair Labor Standards Act audits from the U. S. Department of Labor and lawsuits from workers for overtime violations are coming faster than a blitzing safety on a third and long. Native Oilfield Services is the latest target.  Dispatchers and truck drivers brought suit against Native alleging they were… Continue Reading

Compressor Station Negligent Nuisance Verdict Reversed

Posted in Construction, Litigation

Therapist: “We’re here today in group to bring closure to the traumatic events of Crosstex North Texas Pipeline L.P. v. Gardiner. Each side claims mistreatment by his adversary and by one component or another of the civil justice system. Rancher/property owner Mr. Gardiner, you appear to be the more unhappy party, let’s start with you. Your glorious trial victory… Continue Reading

How an Expert Can Affect Your Oil and Gas Claim

Posted in Litigation

Co-author Matthew Wheatley Your well consultant just cemented 10,000 feet of tubing inside the casing of your eight million dollar well, … a neighboring operator frac’ed his Eagle Ford well into your Austin Chalk completion, thereby trespassing and contaminating your well. Righteousness and vengeance are yours. The jury will draw and quarter the offender. Not So Fast Texokan Operating,… Continue Reading

How to Manage Credit and Collect Unpaid Bills in Today’s Oil Patch

Posted in Contract Disputes, Litigation

Co-authors Preston Kamin and Joe Virene Everybody from the well site to the board room has an opinion about when oil prices will “rebound”. Rather than an opinion, we have a question:  How do I collect my money while we’re waiting? This post is a refresher for service companies and suppliers looking for money from operators, and for operators looking to non-operators.  There are many steps… Continue Reading

Lipsky Revisited – Details and Debate

Posted in Hydraulic Fracturing, Litigation, Pollution

I often wonder if anybody actually reads our modest, quasi-weekly offerings. They do! And they respond! To criticize!  I earn my keep being “critiqued” by impatient judges, aggressive opposing counsel and, occasionally, less-than-happy clients, so – challenge accepted. “Critique” One: Lipsky was not Range’s lessor, therefor I know nothing about the case. Surely, this person lives in my house, where I enjoy a… Continue Reading

How Are the Texas Anti-SLAPP Statute and Jade Helm 15 Alike?

Posted in Hydraulic Fracturing, Litigation, Pollution

May a court “draw rational inferences from circumstantial evidence” when determining if a plaintiff  has met its burden in a suit in which the defendant has invoked the Texas Citizens Participation Act . That was the question in In re Lipsky. What is The Anti-SLAPP Statute? The purpose of the TCPA (the “Anti-SLAPP” statute) is to protect citizens from… Continue Reading

5th Circuit Blocks Punitive Damages in Maritime Case

Posted in Litigation

Co-author Shannon Thorne In McBride v. Estis Well Service, LLC, the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that punitive damages are not available to seamen under the Jones Act or under general maritime law. In those cases, recovery is limited to pecuniary losses. The Drill Barge Accident Estis Well Service owned and operated Estis Rig… Continue Reading

Listen to the Words In the Injunction Battle

Posted in Litigation, operations

If it’s an injunction you want, some words are your friend and others aren’t. For example: “Imminent” = friend “Might” = not friend “Likely” = friend “Could” = not friend “Irreparable” = friend “Money damages” = not friend In Lightning Oil Company v. Anadarko E&P Offshore, LLC, the surface and 1/6 of the minerals of the… Continue Reading