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Angus Chemical Co. v. Glendora Plantation, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

July 23, 2015



ROBERT G. JAMES, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is the "Appeal to District Judge and Objections to Magistrate Judge's Memorandum Order" ("Appeal") [Doc. No. 62] filed by Defendant and Plaintiff-in-Counterclaim Glendora Plantation, Inc. ("Glendora"). For the following reasons, Glendora's Appeal is DENIED.


Plaintiff Angus Chemical Company ("Angus") owns an 80-acre facility in Sterlington, Louisiana, where the plant produces nitroparaffin products. This case concerns Angus's rights to transport wastewater from the plant via an underground pipeline on the land belonging to Glendora under a March 28, 1978 "Right of Way Easement Option" executed with the prior landowners.[1] On August 31, 1978, Angus's predecessor, IMC, exercised the option which then became the Right-of-Way Agreement.

In 2007, Angus's 12" pipeline leaked wastewater because of cracks in the pipeline. Instead of replacing the pipeline, Angus performed above-ground inspections of the property where the pipeline was buried. When the pipeline leaked again in 2010, Angus began taking steps to replace it.

On December 11, 2011, the pipeline ruptured, which caused wastewater to spill onto Glendora's property. After the spill, Angus temporarily shut down the wastewater transfer pumps and constructed an earthen dam to prevent impact to surface waters. Angus and its contractors also took steps to remediate the effects of the spill.

On June 14, 2012, Angus filed the instant Complaint, seeking a declaratory judgment that Angus has a valid servitude under the Right-of-Way Agreement; that it had the right to abandon the 12" pipeline once a new pipeline was in place; that it had the right to lay the pipeline, cables, and tracer wire; that the servitude would be fifty feet in width during construction and thirty feet in width thereafter (fifteen feet on either side of the center line of the original pipeline); and that it had (and continues to have) right of ingress and egress. Alternatively, Angus prayed for a declaratory judgment that it obtained the servitude via acquisitive prescription.

Glendora filed an answer and counterclaim, arguing that Angus had no right to install additional lines or fiber optic cables adjacent to the new pipeline, nor did it have the right to abandon the existing pipeline. Glendora prayed for a declaratory judgment on these issues and also sought damages for trespass, as well as damages for agricultural losses, soil degradation, cleanup costs, and remediation as a result of the December 11, 2011 pipeline rupture and wasterwater spill. Finally, Glendora sought an order compelling Angus to remove that portion of the pipeline located in a different area from the drawing attached to the Option.

While the lawsuit was pending, Angus installed a new 16" pipeline on Glendora's property on or about August 17, 2012, along with two fiber optic cables running parallel to the 16" pipeline and a tracer wire located on top of the pipeline. Between October 3 and November 12, 2012, Angus cleaned, plugged and abandoned the old 12" pipeline. Angus did not precision level the pipeline right of way after installing the 16" pipeline.

On October 25, 2012, Glendora amended its counterclaim to allege that Angus violated the Right-of-Way Agreement by conducting construction outside the thirty foot right of way and by using the right of way for two pipelines. Glendora also alleged that Angus's action constituted a bad faith trespass. Glendora sought damages for land leveling, ditching, the substitution of lesser quality topsoil, and road damage.

On February 5, 2013, Glendora propounded discovery requests to Angus in which it sought discovery of the gross income, net income, and total profit, as well as daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and/or yearly profit and loss statements for the Sterlington facility for the time period between Angus's commencement of construction on the 16" pipeline through the present.

Angus objected to the discovery requests as irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

On March 5, 2013, Glendora filed a Motion to Compel First Supplemental Discovery Responses from Angus ("Motion to Compel") [Doc. No. 23]. Glendora sought a court order compelling Angus to respond to its discovery requests seeking the requested income information and profit and loss statements. Relying on Williams Land Co., LLC v. BellSouth Communications, Inc., Nos. Civ. A. 02-1628, Civ. A. 02-1629, 2003 WL 1733529 (E.D. La. Mar. 28, 2003), Glendora argued that it was entitled to this discovery because Angus is a bad faith trespasser by virtue of its installation of the 16" pipeline partially outside the drawing attached to the Option and because it abandoned, rather than removed, the original 12" pipeline. Thus, as in the Williams case, Glendora argued that it is entitled to this discovery because it has a viable claim for damages for all of Angus's profits at the Sterlington facility. See id. at *1 (citing Corbello v. Iowa Prod., 850 So.2d 686, 709 (La. 2003) (superseded by statute on other grounds as explained in State v. Louisiana Land and Exploration Co., So.3d, 2013 WL 360329 (La. Jan. 30, 2013)).

On March 27, 2013, Angus filed a memorandum in opposition to the Motion to Compel. [Doc. No. 39], as well as a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 40] which contained overlapping arguments. In its opposition memorandum, Angus argued that it is not a bad faith trespasser, but that, even if it were, Glendora was not entitled to the requested ...

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