Co-author Rusty Tucker
In Hlavinka v. HSC Pipeline P’ship, LLC, a Texas court denied a pipeline company’s claim that it is a common carrier with the power of eminent domain.
The Hlavinkas own 15,000+acres in Brazoria County. HSC owns pipeline systems in Texas. HSC’s manager Enterprise Products applied to the Railroad Commission for a permit to operate a new 44-mile long pipeline for the transportation of products including polymer grade propylene. The parties were unable to agree on terms for an easement across four tracts of land.
HSC filed a condemnation suit. The Hlavinkas challenged HSC’s eminent domain power asserting that the pipeline was not for public use and propylene is not crude oil. As a result, they alleged, HSC is not a common carrier and thus does not have authority to condemn private property. HSC filed a motion for partial summary judgment to establish its right to condemn as a matter of law.
The trial court excluded testimony of Terrance Hlavinka related to damages and valuation of the easement. Ultimately, the trial court awarded HSC a permanent 30-foot pipeline easement and a temporary workspace easement, and awarded the Hlavinkas $132,293.36. These were the questions on appeal:
Is HSC a common carrier? Continue Reading Status as a Common Carrier Denied by a Texas Court