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In Randle v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. (5th Cir. 2018), the Fifth Circuit affirmed that a tug owner was neither negligent in providing medical care to an injured seaman nor vicariously liable for the alleged medical malpractice committed by the seaman’s treating physicians. In September 2014, the plaintiff seaman, Randle, fell ill while working aboard a tug owned by Crosby Tugs, L.L.C.  Upon learning about his illness, the ship’s personnel immediately called 911.  The 911 operator…
The Texas Supreme Court has yet to determine whether a party may contract for indemnification against its own gross negligence, and the Court has noted that this issue raises public policy concerns.  The Texas Courts of Appeals are split on this issue. On the one hand, in Smith v. Golden Triangle Raceway, 708 S.W.2d 574 (Tex. App. 1986), the court refused to honor a provision in a release agreement purporting to release a party from…
In January, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal reinstated a permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) back in April 3, 2017 to allow a new pipeline, reversing the district court that ordered the DNR to reevaluate the possible environmental effects.  Joseph v. Sec’y, La. Dep’t of Nat. Res., 18-414 (La. App. 5 Cir. 1/30/19); 2019 WL 364466.  This decision clears the way for the proposed pipeline to advance. On February 22,…
Although Louisiana courts routinely decline to find oil and gas defendants strictly liable under the pre-1996 version of Louisiana Civil Code article 667, plaintiffs continue to plead a cause of action under article 667 for alleged property damage caused by oil and gas exploration and production.  Like many other landowners in legacy lawsuits, the plaintiffs in Watson v. Arkoma Development claimed that defendants were strictly liable for damages caused by contamination to their property before…
In Louisiana, the owner of a mineral servitude is under no obligation to exercise it.  However, a mineral servitude will prescribe from ten years of nonuse.  To interrupt the running of prescription, the owner of a mineral servitude may undertake “good faith operations for the discovery and production of minerals.”  Article 29 of the Mineral Code defines “good faith operations” as those: Commenced with reasonable expectation of discovering and producing minerals in paying quantities at…
Earlier this month, the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law limiting tax credits for Louisiana taxpayers who pay taxes in other states; thus these taxpayers may now have refund opportunities.  The law at issue is Act 109 of the 2015 Regular Legislative Session.  Act 109 amended Louisiana Revised Statute 47:33 to disallow credits for taxes imposed on net income tax paid to other states that do not offer reciprocal tax credits to those…
The federal Fifth Circuit recently signaled its continued skepticism of permitting class certification for royalty owners.  In Seeligson v. Devon Energy Production Company, L.P., No. 17-10320, 2018 WL 5045671 (5th Cir. Oct. 16, 2018), a group of royalty owners in the Barnett Shale in Texas alleged that Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. breached its royalty obligations “by selling the raw, unprocessed gas to its corporate affiliate at the wellheads at a price artificially reduced by…
On September 27, 2018, the FCC released its Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order, which is expected to help accelerate the deployment of 5G cellular service. In the Matter of Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Inv., WT Docket No. 17-79, WC Docket No. 17-84. To support the rollout of 5G service, the wireless industry is turning to small cell devices, a new technology designed to expand network coverage and capacity.…
In United States v. Nature’s Way Marine, L.L.C., 904 F.3d 416 (5th Cir. 2018), the Fifth Circuit held that a tug owner fit the definition of “operator” of an oil-spilling barge and consequently was ineligible under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) for reimbursement of cleanup costs in excess of the share allocated to the tonnage of the tug. In January 2013, a tug owned by Nature’s Way Marine, L.L.C. was moving two…
The continuous reciprocation of tariffs between the United States and China could leave businesses and suppliers in a bind.  With rising costs of supplies, contracts that once appeared lucrative for a business could soon become a financial liability.  As there appears to be no end in sight to the tariffs, can a company claim force majeure or seek to pass on the burden of the tariffs to the other party? Generally speaking, force majeure refers…