TransCanada Keystone summary judgment win affirmed, rice farmer alleges pipeline work impacted crop

By David Yates | Oct 4, 2018

BEAUMONT – TransCanada Keystone recently had a summary judgment win affirmed in a case alleging the taking of private rice farm leasehold without just compensation. 

The appeal stems from a lawsuit brought by Kevin Geheb, who alleges Keystone’s failure to restore the surface on his farm made it impossible for him to farm the tract of land.

In 2008, Geheb leased a tract of land from Michael Gaus, where Geheb operated a farm. Two years later, Gaus sold Keystone an easement, which allowed it to build an underground pipeline across Geheb’s farm.

When the construction project reached Geheb’s farm in 2012, Geheb signed a release, in return for money, that released Keystone from any damages that it caused to Geheb’s 2012 crop.

The 2012 Release, however, did not include damages that Geheb might suffer after 2012, court records show.

When Keystone failed to complete its work on its pipeline across Geheb’s farm by year-end 2012, Geheb and Keystone mutually agreed to a second release. But unlike the 2012 release, the 2013 release contained no language limiting the scope of the release to Geheb’s 2013 crop.

In December 2013, Gaus terminated Geheb’s lease for nonpayment of rent. One year later, Geheb brought an inverse condemnation suit against Keystone for damages, which he alleged were related to Keystone’s failure to restore the surface on his farm to the condition it was in prior to the date that Keystone built a pipeline across his farm.

Keystone moved for summary judgment and the trial court issued a judgment dismissing all of Geheb’s claims.

On Oct. 4, the Ninth Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling, finding the scope of the release signed by Geheb included all the claims relied upon in his suit.

“Based on our conclusion that the summary judgment evidence conclusively proved that each of Geheb’s claims related in some way to Keystone’s acquisition of the easement, we hold the trial court did not err by granting Keystone’s motion for summary judgment,” the opinion states.

Geheb is represented by the Beaumont Law Offices of Robert Keith Wade.

Keystone is represented in part by Karen Bennett, attorney for the Germer law firm in Beaumont.

Judge Kent Walston, 58th District Court, presided over the case.

Jefferson County District Court No. A198-034

Appeals case No. 09-17-00107-CV

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Germer PLLC Jefferson County District Court

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