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Catahoula Lake Investments, LLC v. Hunt Oil Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

January 10, 2018

CATAHOULA LAKE INVESTMENTS, LLC
v.
HUNT OIL COMPANY, ET AL.

         ON SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE TWENTY-EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LASALLE, NO. 40076 HONORABLE J. CHRISTOPHER PETERS, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Gladstone N. Jones, III Bernard E. Boudreaux, Jr. Kevin E. Huddell Eberhard D. Garrison H. S. Bartlett, III Emma Elizabeth Daschbach John T. Arnold Lindsay E. Reeves Jones, Swanson, Huddell & Garrison, LLC Counsel for Plaintiff/Relator: Catahoula Lake Investments, LLC

          Jennifer Jones Jones Law Firm Counsel for Plaintiff/Relator: Catahoula Lake Investments, LLC

          William Michael Adams Paul M. Adkins Stacey Denise Williams Brian C. Flanagan Blanchard, Walker, O'Quin Counsel for Defendant/Respondent: Petro-Hunt, LLC

          Jamie D. Rhymes April L. Rolen-Ogden Hunter A. Chauvin Liskow & Lewis Counsel for Defendant/Respondent: XH, LLC

          Joseph I. Giarrusso, III Liskow & Lewis Counsel for Defendant/Respondent: XH, LLC

          Michael P. Cash Liskow & Lewis Counsel for Defendant/Respondent: XH, LLC

          Matthew Joseph Randazzo, III Christopher B. Bailey Charles W. Montz, Jr. Jackson D. Logan, III Randazzo, Giglio & Bailey, LLC Counsel for Defendant/Respondent: Kingfisher Resources, Inc.

          Court composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, Phyllis M. Keaty, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          PHYLLIS M. KEATY, JUDGE

         Plaintiff-Relator, Catahoula Lake Investments, LLC, seeks supervisory writs from a judgment which granted, in part, an exception of no right of action filed by Defendants-Respondents, XH, LLC; Kingfisher Resources, Inc.; and Petro-Hunt, L.L.C. In Docket Number 17-651 with this court, Defendants-Relators, XH, LLC; Kingfisher Resources, Inc.; and Petro-Hunt, L.L.C, seek supervisory writs from the same judgment which denied, in part, their exception of no right of action.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants claiming that their operations on Plaintiffs property under mineral leases and a mineral servitude caused damage to the property. Defendants filed exceptions of no right of action, asserting that because all mineral operations had ceased prior to Plaintiffs purchase of the subject property, [1] the subsequent purchaser doctrine[2] prohibited Plaintiff from recovering against Defendants since Plaintiffs contract purchasing the property did not expressly pass the seller's personal rights of action to Plaintiff. The trial court granted the exception of no right of action in part, stating:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the Exceptions of No Right of Action filed by Defendants are hereby GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART In particular, those exceptions are GRANTED as to the pre-acquisition damages claims made against Defendants by the Plaintiff, and those claims are dismissed. Defendants' exceptions are DENIED as to plaintiffs post-purchase claims for regulatory mediation pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statute[s] 30:29 (Act 312).

         Ordinarily, we would deny Plaintiffs writ application as the judgment at issue dismisses portions of Plaintiffs claims and, therefore, falls under La. Code Civ.P. art. 1915(B). As such, Plaintiff could obtain review of the judgment by having the trial court designate the partial judgment as final and immediately appealable. However, in this instance, Defendant has filed a writ application seeking the granting of the remainder of their exception of no right of action. Plaintiffs opposition to Defendants' writ application is based on the same arguments made in support of Plaintiffs writ application. Thus, in ruling on Defendant's properly-filed writ application, we will necessarily need to address whether Plaintiffs arguments are meritorious. Therefore, judicial efficiency mediates toward considering the merits of both writ applications at this time.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

"The function of the exception of no right of action is to determine whether the plaintiff belongs to the class of persons to whom the law grants the cause of action asserted in the suit." Hood v. Cotter, 2008-0215, p. 17 (La. 12/2/08), 5 So.3d 819, 829. An appellate court reviewing a lower court's ruling on an exception of no right of action should focus on whether the particular plaintiff has a right to bring the suit and is a member of the class of persons that has a legal interest in the subject matter of the litigation, assuming the petition states a valid cause of action for some person.
The determination whether a plaintiff has a right to bring an action raises a question of law. A question of law ...

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