United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana
STATE OF LOUISIANA, EX REL. KENNETH JAMES GUILBEAU
BEPCO, L.P., ET AL.
RICHARTTL. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report
has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen
(14) days after being served with the attached Report to file
written objections to the proposed findings of fact,
conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to
file written objections to the proposed findings,
conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being
served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from
attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual
findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which
have been accepted by the District Court.
NO EXTENSION OF TIME SHALL BE GRANTED TO FILE WRITTEN
OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT.
JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
the Court is Defendant Hess Corporation's
(“Hess”) Motion to Transfer Venue. (R. Doc. 12).
The Motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 22). Plaintiff has filed a
Reply. (R. Doc. 30).
instant litigation concerns alleged contamination on real
property in Avoyelles Parish that was subject to two previous
lawsuits brought by Kenneth James Guilbeau
(“Guilbeau” or “Plaintiff”) that were
removed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District
of Louisiana and subsequently dismissed.
(with co-plaintiffs Justin Dale Tureau and Ritchie Grocer
Company) filed his first suit in the 12th Judicial District,
Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, which was removed to the Western
District of Louisiana on October 31, 2013. See Kenneth
James Guilbeau v. 2H, Inc., et al., Civil Action No.
14-2867 (W.D. La.) (“Guilbeau I”). On
August 23, 2015, the court dismissed the action by way of
summary judgment, concluding Guilbeau did not have a right of
action for pre-acquisition damage to his property pursuant to
the subsequent purchaser doctrine. See Guilbeau v. 2 H,
Inc., No. 14-2867, 2016 WL 4507634, at *2 (W.D. La. Aug.
23, 2016). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the decision on April
18, 2017, and denied rehearing on May 24, 2017. See
Guilbeau v. Hess Corp., 854 F.3d 310 (5th Cir. 2017),
rehearing denied, No. 16-30971 (5th Cir. May 24,
9, 2017, while his petition for rehearing was pending before
the Fifth Circuit in Guilbeau I, Guilbeau,
purportedly on behalf of the State of Louisiana, filed a
second suit in the 12th Judicial District Court, Avoyelles
Parish, Louisiana. See State of Louisiana ex rel. Kenneth
James Guilbeau v. BEPCO, L.P., et al., Civil Action No.
17-779, (W.D. La.) (“Guilbeau II”), ECF
No. 1-2. The action was removed to the Western District of
Louisiana on June 16, 2017. Id. ECF No. 1. On June
21, 2017, the court issued a sua sponte order
requiring briefing on the issue of diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Id., ECF No. 6. The
same day, in a separate action brought by Justin Dale Tureau,
purportedly on behalf of the State of Louisiana, the court
issued a finding that it had diversity jurisdiction over the
action notwithstanding Tureau's assertion that he was
proceeding on behalf of the State of Louisiana. See
Louisiana ex rel. Tureau v. BEPCO, L.P., No. 17-780,
2017 WL 2676792 (W.D. La. June 21, 2017). Guilbeau
immediately filed a Notice of Dismissal Under Rule 41(a)(1)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Guilbeau
II, ECF No. 7. On June 23, 2017, the district judge
dismissed Guilbeau II without prejudice.
Id., ECF No. 8.
September 15, 2017, Guilbeau, purportedly on behalf of the
State of Louisiana, initiated the instant action in the 19th
Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana,
naming as defendants BEPCO, L.P., BOPCO, L.P., Chisolm Trail
Ventures, L.P., and Hess Corporation (collectively,
“Defendants”). (R. Doc. 1-2 at 6-12). Guilbeau
brought the action against Defendants pursuant to La. R.S.
30:14 and 30:16 for violations of Statewide Order 29-B, along
with other regulations and orders. Guilbeau seeks an
injunction ordering remediation of alleged contamination of
his property in Avoyelles Paris as a result of oil and gas
operations, an order restraining Defendants from further
violations, and costs pursuant to La. R.S. 30:29.
October 23, 2017, Hess removed the instant action on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction. (R. Doc. 1).
November 10, 2017, Guilbeau filed a Motion to Remand on the
basis that the presence of the State of Louisiana as a real
party defeats diversity jurisdiction. (R. Doc. 11). In
opposition, Defendants argue that the State of Louisiana is,
at most, a nominal party whose presence must be disregarded
for the purpose of determining diversity jurisdiction. (R.
November 14, 2017, Hess filed the instant Motion to Transfer
Venue. (R. Doc. 12). Hess argues that transfer of this action
is warranted because “[t]he Western District is (1)
where the Plaintiff resides; (2) where the subject property
is located; and (3) where the operations that allegedly
caused environmental damage to the subject property
occurred.” (R. Doc 12-1 at 1-2). Hess argues that the
Court should transfer this action before deciding
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (R. Doc. 12-1 at 5-7). In
addition to arguing that this action could have been brought
in the Western District, Hess argues that the various factors
to be considered ...