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Global Marketing Solutions, L.L.C. v. Blue Mill Farms, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 6, 2018

GLOBAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS, L.L.C.
v.
BLUE MILL FARMS, INC., ET AL

          Appealed from the 18th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of West Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Case No. 35, 373 The Honorable Alvin C. Batiste, Jr., Judge Presiding

          Richard J. Ward, Jr. Maringouin, Louisiana Martin K. Maley, Sr. Baton Rouge, Louisiana Donald T. Carmouche Victor L. Marcello John H. Carmouche William R. Coenen, III Brian T. Carmouche Todd J. Wimberley Ross J. Donnes D. Adele Owen Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Global Marketing Solutions, L.L.C.

          David M. Culpepper New Orleans, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Key Production Company, Inc.

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, GUIDRY, THERIOT, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          THERIOT, J.

         Global Marketing Solutions, L.L.C. appeals the judgment of the Eighteenth Judicial District Court sustaining the exceptions of no cause of action filed by Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Exxon Mobil Corporation, Key Production Company, Inc., and Seal Energy Company, Inc. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         By act of cash sale recorded in the conveyance records of the Parish of West Baton Rouge on September 12, 2005, Global Marketing Solutions, L.L.C. ("Global") purchased 144 acres of land located in the Bayou Choctaw Oil and Gas Field from Water Oak Plantation, L.L.C. Global alleges that after purchasing the land, it discovered that the land was contaminated by various forms of toxic waste that had seeped through the soil from drilling operations that had been conducted since 1937 to the present time.

         At no time did Global possess mineral rights to the land. The mineral rights had been severed years prior by various mineral leases beginning in the 1930s. Through investigation and discovery, Global learned that the defendants were mineral lessees at various points in the land's history and had conducted drilling operations.

         On March 14, 2006, Global filed suit against several defendants, including Chevron U.S.A., Inc. ("Chevron"), Exxon Mobil Corporation ("Exxon"), Key Production Company, Inc. ("Key"), and Seal Energy Company ("Seal"), asserting contract and tort claims. According to Global, the various defendants were responsible for the contamination of the property at issue. The trial court ultimately dismissed the claims against the defendants pursuant to the Supreme Court of Louisiana's holding in Eagle Pipe and Supply, Inc. v. Amerada Hess Corporation, 2010-2267 (La. 10/25/11); 79 So.3d 246.[1] On September 19, 2014, this court affirmed the dismissal. See Global Marketing Solutions, LLC v. Blue Mill Farms, Inc., 2013-2132 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/9/14); 153 So.3d 1209, writ denied, 2014-2572 (La.App. 1 Cir. 4/23/15); 173 So.3d 1164.

         On November 16, 2015, Global filed a fifth supplemental and amending petition seeking damages from Chevron, Exxon, Key, Seal, and other defendants.[2] In the fifth supplemental and amending petition, Global sought a mandatory and prohibitive injunction ordering the various defendants in the supplemental petition to remediate the contamination on Global's property caused by oil and gas exploration and production activities to a level that complies with applicable regulations and orders, including Statewide Order 29-B, and restraining defendants in the supplemental petition from further violating, or threatening to violate, applicable regulations and orders, including Statewide Order 29-B.

         The fifth supplemental and amending petition referenced two letters sent by Global to the Commissioner of Conservation ("the Commissioner"). The first letter, dated September 23, 2015, informed the Commissioner that Global owns contaminated property and deemed the letter to be formal notice of regulatory violations under La. R.S. 30:14. This letter also stated that if the Commissioner did not take action within ten days, Global would sue the responsible parties for injunctive and other appropriate relief. On October 14, 2015, Global sent a second letter to the Commissioner, which referred to the September 23, 2015 letter and reiterated Global's request that the Commissioner file suit under La. R.S. 30:14 or that Global would do so under La. R.S. 30:16.

         On November 6, 2015, the Commissioner sent a compliance order to Chevron seeking a work plan for assessing soil and groundwater conditions at the site at issue. The compliance order noted that there are constituents of concern present in the soil and/or groundwater of the property in question which indicates potential impact from historical oil and gas exploration and production activities in excess of regulatory allowances. As a result, the Commissioner ordered Chevron to submit a plan for assessing soil and groundwater conditions at the subject site by January 6, 2016. Chevron and Exxon allege that Chevron timely responded to that order by submitting a work plan, and that the Office of Conservation approved that work plan. However, in its fifth supplemental and amending petition (filed November 16, 2015), Global claimed that the Commissioner had failed to act on those letters, thus giving Global the right to seek relief set forth in La. R.S. 30:14 and30:16.[3]

         In March 2016 and April 2016, Key, Exxon, Chevron, and Seal filed various exceptions of prescription and res judicata seeking to have Global's claims against them dismissed. On June 1, 2016, the trial court denied their exceptions, but dismissed several other defendants on exceptions of no cause of action. In May 2017, Chevron, Exxon, Key, and Seal filed multiple declinatory and peremptory exceptions, including an exception of no cause of action.[4] In their exceptions of no cause of action, the defendants alleged that Global had no cause of action under La. R.S. 30:16 to prevent wholly past violations.

         The trial court heard arguments on the May 2017 exceptions on July 26, 2017. On July 31, 2017, the trial court rendered a final partial judgment which granted the exceptions of no cause of action filed by Chevron, Exxon, Key, and Seal. The judgment also declared that the other pending exceptions filed by Chevron, Exxon, Key, and Seal were moot. Additionally, the judgment was designated as a final judgment as to Chevron, Exxon, Key, and Seal pursuant to La. Code Civ. P. arts. 1911 and 1915(A)(1).[5] Global subsequently moved for a new trial, which was denied. Global now appeals the July 31, 2017 judgment and the judgment denying Global's motion for new trial.

         ASSIGNMENTS ...


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