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Crooks v. Louisiana Pacific Corp.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 10, 2014

STEVE H. CROOKS, ET UX.
v.
LOUISIANA PACIFIC CORP., ET AL

APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF LASALLE, NO. 38355. HONORABLE J. CHRISTOPHER PETERS, DISTRICT JUDGE.

For James J. Davidson, III, James J. Davidson, III, Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligott, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards, Lafayette, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Steve H. Crooks, Era Lea Henderson Crooks.

For Virgil Russell Purvis, Jr., Smith, Taliaferro & Purvis, Jonesville, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Steve H. Crooks, Era Lea Henderson Crooks.

For Richard Joseph Wilson, Wilson & Wilson, Jena, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: L. P. Mineral Owners, LLC.

For Sarah Anne Kirkpatrick, Bradley Murchison Kelly & Shea, Shreveport, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Urania Minerals, LLC.

Court composed of Marc T. Amy, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Billy Howard Ezell, Judges.

OPINION

Page 687

[14-724 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] EZELL, Judge.

This appeal presents the issue of whether a suit filed by the owner of land against the mineral servitude owner for damages caused by drilling operations is premature when oil and gas operations are ongoing. The trial court granted an exception of prematurity filed by the owner of a mineral servitude and dismissed the plaintiffs' suit without prejudice. The plaintiffs seek reversal of this ruling on appeal.

FACTS

The land involved in this case consists of approximately 200 acres in LaSalle Parish. On July 26, 2000, Louisiana Pacific Corporation sold the land to Temco Enterprises, Inc., while reserving a full mineral servitude over the property. Subsequently, on August 10, 2000, Temco sold the property to Era and Steve Crooks, subject to the mineral reservation in favor of Louisiana Pacific. In 1968 a portion of the mineral rights was previously conveyed to Urania Lumber Company, Ltd., now known as Urania Minerals, L.L.C. This mineral servitude remained in effect when the Crooks purchased the property. On September 1, 2003, Louisiana Pacific conveyed its mineral rights in the property to LP Mineral Owners, LLC (LPMO).

In 2005, LPMO granted an oil and gas lease to Belle Exploration, Inc. No drilling operations were conducted, so the lease expired by its own terms. In 2009, LP granted an oil and gas lease to Drayco Exploration, LLC. Pursuant to this lease, two wells were drilled and completed. In 2010, SR Acquisition I, LLC acquired the Drayco Lease. This lease is presently an active lease and maintained by oil production.

[14-724 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] In 2012, the Crooks filed suit against Louisiana Pacific, LPMO, and Urania for contamination to their property caused by the oil and gas operations. In response, LPMO filed an exception of prematurity. A hearing on the exception was held on May 12, 2014. The trial court sustained LPMO's exception and dismissed the Crooks' claim against LPMO. In sustaining LPMO's exception of prematurity, the trial court held that ...


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