THE SWEET LAKE LAND AND OIL COMPANY, ET AL.
OLEUM OPERATING COMPANY, L.C., ET AL.
SUPERVISORY WRITS FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 2010-1272 HONORABLE DAVID ALEXANDER
RITCHIE, DISTRICT JUDGE
Wall Paul E. Bullington Jonathon R. Cook Sara Lewis Wall,
Bullington & Cook, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT:
Sweet Lake Land & Oil Co., LLC.
P. Doré Alan J. Berteau Shannan Sweeney Rieger Deborah
J. Juneau R. Benn Vincent, Jr. Matthew B. Smith Hattie V.
Guidry Kean Miller LLP COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS-APPLICANTS:
Sohio Petroleum Company BP Exploration & Oil, Inc. BP
Exploration, Inc. BP Products North America, Inc.
composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and
Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.
BP Products North America, Inc.; BP Exploration & Oil,
Inc.; BP Exploration, Inc.; and Sohio Petroleum Company
("BP"), seek a supervisory writ from the judgment
of the trial court which denied their Motion for Adoption of
LDNR's Most Feasible Plan Pursuant to La.R.S. 30:29 and
ordered LDNR to submit a final plan by July 8, 2017.
OF THE CASE
case involves an oilfield contamination lawsuit that is
governed by the 2012 version of La.R.S. 30:29, which was
originally enacted by 2006 La. Acts 312 (Act). The plaintiff,
the Sweet Lake Land & Oil Company, LLC, (Sweet Lake)
filed suit against BP, among other defendants, alleging
environmental damage to its property caused by decades of oil
and gas exploration activities. After trial, conducted from
May 11 through May 27, 2015, the jury found BP 100% liable
for the environmental damage. On September 11, 2015, the
trial court referred the case to the Louisiana Department of
Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, (LDNR) for a
public hearing and the development of the most feasible plan
under La.R.S. 30:29. The judgment also ordered BP to submit
to LDNR a plan to "remediate to applicable regulatory
standards the contamination that resulted in the
environmental damage to the Property." LDNR held a
public hearing from April 25 through April 28, 2016.
upon the evidence presented and in response to questions
raised by the LDNR panel, the LDNR issued and filed in the
trial court record its "Most Feasible Plan and Written
Reasons in Support as Required by La.R.S. 30:29" (LDNR
plan) on October 3, 2016. Thereafter, on October 16, 2016, BP
filed its motion for adoption of LDNR's plan pursuant to
La.R.S. 30:29. Sweet Lake opposed the adoption, arguing the
motion was premature because the plan was not a "final
plan" to clean up the property and was not even a
"final plan" to evaluate the property. In reply, BP
argued that the LDNR plan was a final plan, as La.R.S. 30:29
specifically contemplates that the final most feasible plan
can require evaluation only, and the LDNR plan does much
February 15, 2017 hearing, the trial court denied BP's
motion, ordering LDNR to perform additional work because the
plan was only partially a remediation plan. The trial
court's greatest concerns were those "parts" or
areas of contamination, namely the groundwater and flowlines,
where LDNR admittedly did not have enough information to
formulate a remediation plan. In its written judgment, signed
on May 9, 2017, the trial court specifically required the
final plan to address those questionable areas and provide a
remedial plan of action for same:
a. Address groundwater remediation on the property. . . . The
final remediation plan may contain clean up options that
depend upon the results of additional information and should
be accompanied by an estimate of the cost to obtain the
additional information. If LDNR is unable to provide the
foregoing final remediation plan, it shall provide the Court
with information to help the Court better order LDNR to do
what needs to be done;
b. Specify the regulation or standard for each clean up
activity so that the Court can enforce it;
c. Specify the flowlines on the property and include a
remediation plan for flowlines that must be removed; and
d. State whether a response or command was received from any
other agency to whom the October 3, 2016 LDNR plan was
submitted pursuant to ...