CROSSTEX ENERGY SERVICES, LP; CROSSTEX LIG, LLC; AND CROSSTEX PROCESSING SERVICES, LLC
TEXAS BRINE COMPANY, LLC; ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY; AND AMERICAN GUARANTEE AND LIABILITY INSURANCE COMPANY
APPEALED FROM THE 23rd JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
ASSUMPTION PARISH, LOUISIANA DOCKET NUMBER 34, 202, HONORABLE
THOMAS J. KLIEBERT, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.
Leopold Z. Sher James M. Garner Peter L. Hilbert, Jr. Neal J.
Kling Jeffrey D. Kessler Kevin M. McGlone New Orleans,
Louisiana and Robert Ryland Percy, III Gonzales, Louisiana
and Travis J. Turner Gonzales, Louisiana and Eric J. Mayer
Houston, Texas, Attorneys for 3rd Party Plaintiff/ Appellant
Texas Brine Company, LLC.
N. Bagwell White Castle, Louisiana, Attorney for 3r6 Party
Defendant/ Appellee Averille Browning Dawson.
BEFORE: McDONALD, CHUTZ, and PENZATO, JJ.
appeal, a defendant challenges a judgment dismissing its
third-party demand against a Texas resident, in her personal
capacity and as trustee of a Texas trust, based on a lack of
personal jurisdiction. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
suit is one of several arising from the August 2012
appearance of a sinkhole near Bayou Corne in Assumption
Parish, Louisiana. EnLink f/k/a Crosstex, the plaintiffs
in the underlying litigation, own and operate a natural gas
pipeline that traverses the edge of a salt dome. Texas
Brine operates brine production wells, including
the Oxy Geismar #3 well, on property above the salt dome. For
many years before the appearance of the sinkhole, Colorado
Crude Company and several of its assignees had an
oil/gas/mineral lease, the Colorado Crude Lease (CCL), on
land next to where the Oxy Geismar #3 well was located. In
1986, one of the CCL assignees drilled and began to operate
the Hooker #1 well, an oil and gas well, on that adjacent
land. The Hooker #1 well reservoir and the Oxy Geismar #3
salt cavern allegedly shared a common underground wall. Under
the CCL, all assignees were bound to "diligently
endeavor not to damage any salt formations which may exist
upon the leased premises and shall pay for any actual damages
which may occur from operations upon said leased
1986, HECI Exploration Company (HECI), the then current CCL
assignee, became the operator of the Hooker #1 well. On
December 31, 1990, HECI assigned its CCL interest to Jane H.
Browning and Michael G. Starnes, co-trustees of the Browning
Children's Trust (BCT), a Texas trust governed by Texas
Three days later, on January 2, 1991, the BCT co-trustees
assigned the CCL interest to Browning Oil Company. Under
these assignments, the BCT co-trustees and Browning Oil
Company, respectively, agreed to "assume and be subject
to the proportionate share of all obligations" under the
CCL. On February 13, 2001, over 10 years later, Mr. Starnes
resigned as BCT co-trustee, and on that date, Averille
Browning Dawson became BCT trustee.
the sinkhole appeared in 2012, Crosstex filed suit against
Texas Brine, among others, alleging the sinkhole was caused,
in whole or part, by the failure of the Oxy Geismar #3 salt
cavern and that the sinkhole damaged Crosstex's pipeline.
In response, Texas Brine filed incidental demands against
several parties, including Mr. Starnes, BCT co-trustee, as a
past CCL assignee. Texas Brine alleged, among other things,
that the CCL assignees caused the sinkhole, in whole or part,
and were liable to Texas Brine due to negligence, strict
liability, breach of contract, breach of duties under the
Louisiana Mineral Code, and for contribution and
indemnification. Later, pursuant to Texas Brine's motion,
the trial court signed an order substituting Ms. Dawson for
Mr. Starnes as third-party defendant, in her capacity as
"current trustee of the Lessee Trust [the BCT]."
Dawson then filed a declinatory exception pleading the
objection of lack of personal jurisdiction, and Texas Brine
filed an opposition. After a hearing, the trial court signed
a judgment on July 6, 2017, granting the exception and
dismissing Texas Brine's claims without prejudice against
Ms. Dawson, individually and as BCT trustee.
Brine first sought review of the July 6, 2017 judgment via a
supervisory writ application to this Court. Under docket
number 2017 CW 1079, we refused to consider the writ because
the judgment dismissing Ms. Dawson is an appealable judgment
under LSA-C.C.P. art. 1915A. Texas Brine now appeals from the
adverse judgment, contending the trial court erred in
concluding it did not have personal jurisdiction over Ms.
Dawson. On appeal, Texas Brine does not argue that Ms. Dawson
herself had sufficient minimum contacts with Louisiana to
support personal jurisdiction over her. Rather, in two
assignments of error, Texas Brine argues the trial court
should have found that Mr. Starnes, Ms. Dawson's
predecessor as BCT trustee, had sufficient minimum contacts
with Louisiana to support the exercise of personal
jurisdiction over him and that his contacts should be imputed
to Ms. Dawson.
Louisiana Long Arm Statute provides for the exercise of
personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, who acts
directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action arising from
having an interest in, using, or possessing a real right on
immovable property in this state. LSA-R.S. 13:3201A(5).
Additionally, the Long Arm Statute provides for the exercise
of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident on any basis
consistent with the United States and Louisiana
Constitutions. LSA-R.S. 13:3201B; Southeast Wireless
Network, Inc. v. U.S. Telemetry Corp., 06-1736 (La.
4/11/07), 954 So.2d 120, 124. The addition of Subsection B to
the Long Arm Statute ensures that the long-arm process
extends to the limits allowed by Due Process. Id.
Thus, rather than focusing on the examples set forth in
Section A, the sole inquiry into jurisdiction over a
nonresident is an analysis of the constitutional Due Process
requirements. See Ruckstuhl v. Owens Corning Fiberglas
Corp., 98-1126 (La. 4/13/99), 731 So.2d 881, 885,
cert, denied,528 U.S. ...