Land Contamination Case Results

Oil Company Fails To Clean Up Contamination

We represented owners of ten acres of rural land situated in Acadia Parish for the contamination of their land from oil field operations by an oil company. The ten-acre property was the subject of a surface lease obtained by the oil company in 1955. The lease allowed the oil company to use the 10-acre property exclusively, for any and all purposes, including the erection and operation of a gas plant. The lease also required the oil company to promptly restore the land to as near its former condition upon termination of the lease. The lease was held for 50 years as a result of various renewals. The lease expired on Feb. 24, 2005. As often happened, the oil company paid little heed over the 50-year term of the lease to the contamination that was arising from its operation of a gas plant and other facilities on the plaintiffs' land. The evident problems continued to be ignored when the lease expired. As a result, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the landowners.

Result: Our firm discovered evidence that the oil company was aware of the contamination, yet chose to ignore it. In fact, oil company documents revealed that it chose to continue the lease rather than clean up the property.

We are proud that our firm's senior partner, Mike Veron, pioneered land contamination litigation in Louisiana. In Corbello v. Iowa Production, 850 So.2d 686 (La. 2003), Mike was the lead attorney at both trial and appellate levels who successfully battled Shell Oil Company to obtain a final judgment worth $76 million in a landmark case involving Shell's trespass, unlawful saltwater disposal, and contamination of land held by his family for decades. The judgment obtained on behalf of the landowners is considered to be a milestone for environmentalists and landowners everywhere. Mike later authored a book about the case, entitled Shell Game, which was praised by Publishers Weekly as a "cracking good read." The Library Journal added: "Veron knows how to hold readers' interest. An engaging plot, colorful characters, well-written narration, and an ultimately happy ending make this a satisfying work." As a measure of the case's significance, Shell and oil industry allies have gone to the Louisiana legislature on multiple occasions since to sponsor new laws curbing landowners' rights to seek damages for oilfield contamination. We are proud of the role we play in this fight and of our other successes in representing landowners across the state of Louisiana who seek to restore their property and hold polluters responsible for contaminating their property.