For Immediate Release
Trial Concludes: Judge Rules Pipeline Company Trespassed But Allows Taking of Private Property
WASHINGTON - Today, a Louisiana judge found that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Company (BBP) trespassed on privately owned land when it constructed its oil pipeline in the sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, but allowed the company to exercise eminent domain over the property for its use. Landowners with property interests that span 38 acres in the basin, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, challenged the land grab and damage to the property resulting from the construction of the pipeline without their permission. Following three days of trial that concluded last Thursday, Judge Keith Comeaux awarded each of the landowners $150 in total for the expropriation and trespass. The landowners' attorneys say they will appeal court's ruling.
Attorneys say BBP trespassed onto the land and began constructing the pipeline-including clearing trees and trenching-long before beginning a legal process to obtain the land, and that the company continued construction while permits were under challenge. In addition to defending against BBP's eminent domain lawsuit, the landowners countersued BBP for trespass and illegal construction. They argued that far from serving a public and necessary purpose that would allow BBP to exercise eminent domain, the pipeline is contrary to the public interest. Attorneys say the judge's award to compensate the landowners $150 vastly undervalues the land.
Said Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Attorney Misha Mitchell, "Although we are disappointed the court did not find that the crisis facing Louisiana's coast and the Atchafalaya Basin warranted additional consideration in its determination of the public and necessary purpose of the project, the fact that the court found BBP unlawfully trespassed on the property at issue is substantial. For any individual to attempt to hold a huge company like BBP accountable under the law is no small feat-these landowners should be commended for their courage in confronting the illegal acts of a substantial opponent and standing for what is just."
For more information, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights' case page.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.