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In re Oracle Oil, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 1, 2019

ORACLE OIL, LLC, Plaintiff
v.
EPI CONSULTANTS, Defendant

         SECTION: “E”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SUSIE MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion in Limine[1] filed by Oracle Oil, LLC (“Oracle”), seeking to exclude or limit the testimony of Lindsay Longman as to the “orphan well issue.” Defendant EPI Consultants opposes the motion.[2] For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         Oracle is a company owned solely by Robert “Bob” Brooks[3] and is the operator of the Lucille Broussard, et al. No. 1 well (“the Well”) located in Vermillion Parish.[4] Oracle alleges it contracted with EPI to provide consulting engineering services, on-site supervision, and other services in connection with the Well in order to rework the Well.[5] Oracle alleges that, in connection with the contracted work, EPI used rusty, scaly pipe and failed to properly inspect or clean the pipe before running it in the Well.[6] Oracle further alleges that EPI set retainers, bridge plugs, and/or pokers near joints in the casing, causing a split in the casing.[7]Oracle seeks damages as a result of EPI's actions.

         EPI hired Lindsay Longman, a petroleum engineer, to provide an expert opinion regarding the Well and the actions of various parties with respect to the Well. Oracle moves to exclude Mr. Longman from testifying that the Well or other wells operated by Oracle are “orphaned.” EPI argues this testimony is wholly irrelevant and more prejudicial than probative.[8]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Evidence 401 provides, [e]vidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Federal Rule of Evidence 403 provides, “[t]he court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by . . . unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         In his expert report, Mr. Longman discusses “orphaned wells.” La. R.S. 30:91 defines an “orphaned well” as follows:

         A. A site may be declared to be an orphaned oilfield site by the assistant secretary upon a finding that:

(1) No responsible party can be located, or such party has failed or is financially unable to undertake actions ordered by the assistant secretary; and
(2) The oilfield site either:
(a) Was not closed or maintained in accordance with all statutory requirements and the regulations ...

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