United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
JOE D. MAGEE, ET AL.
BHP BILLITON PETROLEUM PROPERTIES (NA) LP
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
MAURICE HICKS, JR., JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document
131) filed by defendant BHP Billiton Petroleum Properties
(N.A.), L.P. (“Defendant”). Plaintiffs Joe D.
Magee and Joanne Fulmer Magee (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) oppose the motion. See
Record Document 135. Defendant filed a Reply Memorandum
(Record Document 140) in response to Plaintiffs'
opposition. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document 131) is hereby
executed four separate mineral leases in favor of
Petrohawk. Record Document 1-3 at 2. Paragraph 11 of
each of the leases provides as follows:
In case of suit, adverse claim, dispute or question as to the
ownership of the royalties (or some part thereof) payable
under this lease, Lessee shall not be held in default in
payment of such royalties (or the part thereof in dispute)
until such suit, claim, dispute or question has been finally
disposed of and Lessee shall have thirty (30) days after
being furnished with a certified copy of the instrument or
instruments disposing of such suit, claim or dispute, or
after being furnished with proof sufficient, in Lessee's
opinion, to settle such question within which to make
Document 27-6 at 7, 14, 21, 27.
Defendant removed this action on July 24, 2015,
Plaintiffs' complaint included the following claims for
relief related to the leases: (1) a claim for unpaid
royalties under Paragraph 11 of the leases; (2) a claim for
double damages, interest, and attorney's fees under La.
R.S. 31:139 (“Article 139”) for Defendant's
“willful or fraudulent” failure to pay the
royalties; (3) a claim for unpaid bonuses under the leases;
and (4) a claim for legal interest on the unpaid bonuses.
See Record Documents 1-3. On August 20, 2015,
Defendant paid Plaintiffs $467, 785.55 for royalties owed
under the leases. Plaintiffs never sought leave to file a
supplemental pleading to allege that Defendant's
performance of its obligation to pay royalties under the
lease was inadequate.
November 13, 2017, the Court granted partial summary judgment
in favor of Defendant. See Record Documents 86 &
87. The Court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims for unpaid
bonuses and interest. It also dismissed Plaintiffs' claim
under Article 139. See Record Document 86. The
Court's order (Record Document 87) left only one issue
for resolution in the case: “the correct amount of
royalties owed the Magees under the leases.” Record
Document 86 at 17. However, after further review, the Court
now finds that the case should have been dismissed in its
entirety, as there were no remaining claims in the case.
noted above, Plaintiffs never requested leave to file a
supplemental pleading after the royalty payments were made by
Defendant to allege that Defendant's performance was
inadequate. Thus, at the time the Court ruled on
Defendant's motion for summary judgment, only two claims
related to the royalties due under the leases existed: (1)
the claim for unpaid royalties and (2) the claim under
Article 139. In its memorandum ruling (Record Document 86),
the Court clearly dismissed Plaintiffs' Article 139
claim. It reasoned that because proper notice, as required
under Paragraph 11 of the leases, had not been given to
Defendant, Defendant was not in default on its obligation to
pay the royalties, and therefore could not be liable under
Article 139 for its failure to pay the royalties. This logic
also requires dismissal of the claim for unpaid royalties,
itself. Therefore, every claim outlined in the complaint
should have been dismissed, and the case should have been
Court recognizes that this is contrary to its prior opinions
in this case. Specifically, in its Memorandum Ruling (Record
Document 86) granting Defendant's motion for partial
summary judgment, the Court stated that its ruling
“only pertain[ed] to the applicability of Article 139
of the Mineral Code and not the correct amount of royalties
owed the Magees under the Leases.” Record Document 86
at 17. Additionally, the Court reiterated this conclusion in
its recent Memorandum Order (Record Document 142) denying
Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate (Record Document 136).
However, both of these orders were interlocutory orders,
subject to revision by the Court under Rule 54(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Court also notes that Plaintiffs have had multiple
opportunities to request leave to file a supplemental
complaint. Rule 15(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides, in part, that, “[o]n motion and reasonable
notice, the court may, on just terms, permit a party to serve
a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction,
occurrence, or event that happened after the date of the
pleading to be supplemented.” Plaintiffs did, in fact,
supplement their pleadings after the royalty payment at issue
was made, but did not include any allegations about the
payment, including whether the payment failed to satisfy
Defendant's obligations under the leases. Additionally,
in the current Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant raises
the argument that, “Plaintiffs have not pleaded a claim
for inaccurate payment of royalty.” Record Document
131-1 at 5. Plaintiffs were given an opportunity to respond
to this argument in their opposition to Defendant's
motion for summary judgment. See Record Document
135. Despite this opportunity, Plaintiffs still have not
requested leave to file a supplemental pleading, or otherwise
amend their current pleadings, to assert such a claim.
these reasons, there is no genuine dispute of material fact,
and Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Therefore, Defendant's Motion for ...