On October 31, 2014, Judge Janice Clark of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ruled that Louisiana Act 544 is unconstitutional. Act 544 was passed by the Louisiana legislature last session to block a lawsuit against multiple oil and gas industry defendants for coastal erosion and damage to Louisiana’s coastal lands and wetlands.
Act 544 specifically provides that state and local governmental entities cannot file lawsuits or pursue causes of action arising from permitted activity. The Act was passed after the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed suit in 2013, seeking billions of dollars in damages from more than 100 oil and gas industry defendants. The levee board claims that oil, gas, and pipeline companies cut at least 10,000 miles of oil and gas canals and pipelines into Louisiana coastal lands, and that according to terms of their permits, the companies must repair the damaged lands.
A separate lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans before U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown on the constitutionality of Act 544. This lawsuit, filed by the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, seeks to invalidate the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s contract with its attorneys in the coastal erosion lawsuit.
For more information and updates, stay tuned to this blog, or contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.