QUALITY ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES, INC., MICHAEL X. ST. MARTIN, AND VIRGINIA RAYNE ST. MARTIN
ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND PHILLIPS PETROLEUM COMPANY MANDALAY OIL & GAS, L.L.C.
ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, MICHAEL X. ST. MARTIN, VIRGINIA RAYNE ST. MARTIN, AND QUALITY ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES, INC.
Appeal from the 32nd Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of Terrebonne State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 129,
412 c/w 132, 981; Div. D, The Honorable David W. Arceneaux,
Gray, III Lake Charles, Louisiana, Attorney for Appellants
Plaintiffs - Michael X. St. Martin, Virginia Rayne St.
Martin, and Quality Environmental Processes, Inc.
Michael X. St. Martin Christopher J. St. Martin Houma,
Louisiana, Attorneys for Appellant Plaintiff - Quality
Environmental Processes, Inc.
S. Manuel Baton Rouge, Louisiana and H. Alston Johnson, III
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorneys for Appellee Defendant- LP.
Petroleum Company, Inc.
BEFORE: PETTIGREW, McDONALD, AND CALLOWAY,  JJ.
protracted litigation in this case involves mineral rights
and royalties associated with a production well, IP Pet. PPCO
No. 1 well, located on a certain tract of land owned by the
plaintiffs in Terrebonne Parish (hereinafter "St. Martin
property"). In this appeal, the plaintiffs, Quality
Environmental Processes, Inc. (hereinafter
"Quality"), Michael X. St. Martin, and Virginia
Rayne St. Martin, appeal a trial court judgment granting
partial summary judgment in favor of the defendant, IP
Petroleum Company, Inc. (hereinafter "IP
Petroleum"), and dismissing with prejudice the claims of
the plaintiffs for mineral royalties attributable to
production on the IP Pet. PPCO No. 1 well prior to April 1,
2001. In this appeal, we affirm the partial summary judgment
in favor of IP Petroleum.
related appeal, also rendered this date, 2016 CA 0230, IP
Petroleum and International Paper Company challenge a trial
court judgment on remand which awarded the plaintiffs: (A)
$107, 612.67 in unpaid mineral royalties; (B) $215, 225.34 in
statutory penalties pursuant to La. R.S. 31:139; (C) $230,
563.83 in interest from October 31, 2002, on the unpaid
royalties and penalties; (D) $138, 350.46 representing 25%
statutory attorney fees on unpaid royalties, penalties, and
interest; and (E) $691, 752.30 in damages for intentional
tort. The plaintiffs assert their own appeal of the judgment
on remand which: (F) dismissed their claim for $817, 464.29
in mineral royalties.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
background facts and procedural history of this case are more
detailed and fully set forth in the Louisiana Supreme
Court's opinion in Quality Environmental Processes,
Inc. v. LP. Petroleum Co., Inc., 2013-1582 (La. 5/7/14),
144 So.3d 1011 (rehearing denied July 1, 2014) (hereinafter
"Quality I"). For additional background
facts, see Quality Environmental Processes, Inc. v. IP.
Petroleum Co., Inc., 2012-0776, 2013 WL 690535 (La.App.
1 Cir. Feb. 25, 2013). For efficiency, we discuss only the
facts and procedural history relevant to the current appeal.
29, 2000, Quality and the St. Martins filed a petition for
declaratory judgment and damages against Energy Development
Corporation (hereinafter "EDC"), Phillips Petroleum
Corporation (hereinafter "Phillips"), Mobil
Exploration & Producing U.S., Inc. (hereinafter
"Mobil"), and IP Petroleum. The plaintiffs alleged they
were entitled to receive from the defendants all mineral
royalties on production from the IP Pet. PPCO No. 1 well
attributable to the St. Martin property from June 29, 1997,
through the date the well was plugged and
abandoned. The petition sought: (1) a declaratory
judgment that the 1966 mineral deed did not create a mineral
servitude; (2) an accounting of all pre-1992 royalties from
Mobil, Phillips, and IP Petroleum; (3) an accounting of all
post-1992 royalties from IP Petroleum and Phillips; (4)
payment by Mobil and Phillips to plaintiffs "as
damages" double the amount of royalties due and unpaid;
(5) cancellation of described mineral leases; and (6)
unspecified damages for nonpayment of royalties. The trial
court granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their suit to add
Noble Energy, Inc. (hereinafter "Noble Energy"), as
the successor to EDC, as a defendant.
time the instant suit was filed, some $817, 464.29 in
royalties had been paid by IP Petroleum to Noble Energy and
Phillips between June 29, 1997, and April 1, 2001, while the
remaining $106, 977.66 in royalties (derived from production
between April 1, 2001, and September 1, 2001) had been placed
in escrow. See Quality I, 144 So.3d at 1018. The
instant suit bears trial court docket number 129, 412 and was
assigned to Division D of the 32nd JDC in Terrebonne Parish,
presided over by Judge David W. Arceneaux. This suit is
referred to by the parties as the "Blue Line I"
litigation. See Quality I, 144 So.3d at 1018.
Mobil was dismissed from the instant suit. The plaintiffs
settled their claims with Phillips in 2001 and with Noble
Energy in 2005, who were also dismissed from the suit.
See Quality I, 144 So.3d at 1018. In the 2001 and
2005 settlement agreements with Phillips and Noble Energy,
the plaintiffs obtained all of the mineral interests in the
St. Martin property that had belonged to Phillips and Noble
Energy respectively, i.e., the "after-acquired
mineral rights." See Quality I, 144 So.3d at
1018. IP Petroleum is the sole remaining defendant in this
2006, the plaintiffs attempted to amend their petition to add
as a defendant International Paper Company (the parent
company of IP Petroleum) and to assert a claim for tortious
conspiracy against the defendants, as well as the attorneys
for IP Petroleum, John Y. Pearce and the law firm of
Montgomery, Barnett, Brown, Read, Hammond & Mintz, L.L.C.
See Quality I, 144 So.3d at 1018. By
judgment rendered February 27, 2007, the trial court denied
the plaintiffs' motion to amend their pleadings to add
the above-described defendants. See Quality I, 144
So.3d at 1018.
Quality and the St. Martins filed a second suit against IP
Petroleum and International Paper, asserting their claim for
unpaid royalties from June 29, 1997, through the date the
well was plugged and abandoned. The plaintiffs also sought
damages under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act
(hereinafter "LUTPA") against IP Petroleum,
International Paper, and IP Petroleum's attorneys, Mr.
Pearce and the law firm of Montgomery Barnett. See
Quality I, 144 So.3d at 1018. The second suit bears
trial court docket number 149, 973 and was assigned to
Division B of the 32nd JDC in Terrebonne Parish, presided
over by Judge John R. Walker. The second suit is referred to
by the parties as the "Blue Line II" litigation.
See Quality I, 144 So.3d at 1018. The Blue Line II
suit is the subject of the related appeal pending before this
court, 2016 CA0230.
August 2007, the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial
summary judgment, seeking judgment against IP Petroleum for
royalties due since June 29, 1997. IP Petroleum opposed the
motion. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the
November 13, 2008, IP Petroleum filed a motion for partial
summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the plaintiffs'
claims. Following a hearing, the trial court denied IP
Petroleum's motion in a judgment signed May 8,
August 29, 2014, IP Petroleum filed a motion for partial
summary judgment, seeking dismissal of "all of the
claims of the plaintiffs herein to any and all mineral
royalties from production prior to April 1, 2001 from the IP
Pet. PPCO No. 1 well, " that is, the $817, 464.29 in
previously-paid royalties by IP Petroleum to Noble Energy and
Phillips between the stipulated dates of June 29, 1997, and
April 1, 2001. Royalties derived from production between
April 1, 2001, and September 1, 2001, in the amount of $106,
977.66 and placed in escrow, were not at issue in IP
Petroleum's motion. IP Petroleum prayed for partial
summary judgment in its favor and "that plaintiffs'
claims for the sum of $817, 464.29 in royalties paid to
Phillips and [Noble Energy] prior to April 1, 2001 be
dismissed, with prejudice and at their costs." The
plaintiffs opposed the motion.
November 10, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss
IP Petroleum's motion for partial summary judgment on the
grounds that it was filed untimely, based on a previously
issued pre-trial order. IP Petroleum opposed the
plaintiffs' motion. Additionally, on November 13, 2014,
the plaintiffs filed a motion requesting ex parte
dismissal of the entire matter based on abandonment.
See La. C.C.P. art. 561. The next day, the trial
court entered an ex parte order dismissing the case.
IP Petroleum subsequently filed a motion to set aside the
order of dismissal on November 19, 2014.
a hearing, the trial court granted IP Petroleum's motion
to set aside the order of dismissal, denied the
plaintiffs' motion to dismiss IP Petroleum's motion
for partial summary judgment filed August 29, 2014, and took
IP Petroleum's motion for partial summary judgment under
advisement. On April 8, 2015, the trial court signed a
judgment granting IP Petroleum's motion for partial
summary judgment and dismissing all claims of the plaintiffs
against IP Petroleum for previously-paid mineral royalties
attributable to production prior to April 1, 2001, with
prejudice. The trial court assessed all costs associated with
IP Petroleum's motion for partial summary judgment
against the plaintiffs. The trial court also issued written
reasons for judgment. On August 28, 2015, the trial court, at
the request of IP Petroleum, issued an order certifying the
April 8, 2015 judgment rendered in its favor as a final
judgment in accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 1915.
and the St. Martins now suspensively appeal the April 8, 2015
certified final judgment of the trial court, designating
portions of record on appeal. See La. C.C.P. art.
2128; see also Uniform Rules, Courts of Appeal, Rule
courts have a duty to examine subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte, even when the parties do not raise the
issue. Texas Gas Exploration Corp. v. Lafourche Realty
Co., Inc., 2011-0520 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/9/11), 79 So.3d
1054, 1059, writ denied, 2012-0360 (La. 4/9/12), 85
So.3d 698. Our appellate jurisdiction extends to "final
judgments." See La. C.C.P. art. 2083. A
judgment must be precise, definite, and certain. Laird v.
St. Tammany Parish Safe Harbor, 2002-0045
(La.App. 1 Cir. 12/20/02), 836 So.2d 364, 365. Moreover, a
final appealable judgment must name the party in favor of
whom the ruling is ordered, the party against whom the ruling
is ordered, and the relief that is granted or denied. See
Carter v. Williamson Eye Center, 2001-2016 (La.App. 1
Cir. 11/27/02), 837 So.2d 43, 44. These determinations should
be evident from the language of the judgment without
reference to other documents in the record. Laird,
836 So.2d at 366. In relevant part, a final appealable
judgment "must contain appropriate decretal language
disposing of or dismissing claims in the case."
State in Interest of J.C., 2016-0138 (La.App. 1 Cir.
6/3/16), 196 So.3d 102, 107.
appellate court, we are obligated to recognize any lack of
jurisdiction if it exists. This court's appellate
jurisdiction extends to "final judgments, " which
are those that determine the merits in whole or in part. La.
C.C.P. arts. 1841 and 2083; see Van ex rel. White v.
Davis, 2000-0206 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/16/01), 808 So.2d
478, 483. However, a judgment that only partially determines
the merits of an action is a partial final judgment and, as
such, is immediately appealable only if authorized by La.
C.C.P. art. 1915. Rhodes v. Lewis, 2001-1989 (La.
5/14/02), 817 So.2d 64, 66.
A of La. C.C.P. art. 1915 designates certain categories of
partial judgments as final judgments subject to immediate
appeal without the necessity of any designation of finality
by the trial court, while Subpart B of La. C.C.P. art. 1915
provides that when a court renders a partial judgment,
partial motion for summary judgment, or exception in part, it
may designate the judgment as final when there is no just
reason for delay. Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article
1915, in pertinent part, provides:
A. A final judgment may be rendered and signed by the court,
even though it may not grant the successful party or parties
all of the relief prayed for, or may not adjudicate all of
the issues in the case, when the court:
(1)Dismisses the suit as to less than all of the parties,
defendants, third party plaintiffs, third party defendants,
(2)Grants a motion for judgment on the pleadings, as provided
by Articles 965, 968, and 969.
(3) Grants a motion for summary judgment, as provided by
Articles 966 through 969, but not including a summary
judgment granted pursuant to Article 966(E).
(4) Signs a judgment on either the principal or incidental
demand, when the two have been tried separately, as provided
by Article 1038.
(5) Signs a judgment on the issue of liability when that
issue has been tried separately by the court, or when, in a
jury trial, the issue of liability has been tried before a
jury and the issue of damages is to be tried before a
(6) Imposes sanctions or disciplinary action pursuant to
Article 191, 863, or 864 or Code of ...