Appeals court affirms partial summary judgment, dismissal in dispute over pipeline construction

By Gabriel Neves | Mar 15, 2019

BEAUMONT -- Two landowners, who had a pipeline passing through their land in Liberty County, and who lost the property during construction, have suffered a loss in court.

Justice Charles Kreger of the Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals, issued a 27-page ruling Feb. 28, affirming the Liberty County Court decision in the lawsuit filed by Lone Star NGL Pipeline LP against Julie Graves, and Lois St. Pe.

The court confirmed the previous decision that granted Lone Star a motion for partial summary judgment of the case.

Lone Star had sued Graves and St. Pe in order to condemn a portion of the appellants' land in the county, which would be needed to build a pipeline.

"Lone Star sought to condemn a portion of the landowners’ property in Liberty County for a permanent easement to construct its Lone Star express pipeline, the ruling said. "The pipeline commences in Baden, Texas, north of Midland, and terminates in Mont Belvieu, Texas. The pipeline is to operate as a common carrier transporting natural gas liquids." 

Graves and St. Pe opposed the route chosen by Lone Star to build the pipeline, and took legal action.

"The landowners were unhappy with Lone Star’s chosen route," the ruling said. "In the initial offer letter, the route travelled diagonally through their properties, as opposed to following the property line around the perimeter which the landowners preferred. The parties negotiated, re-surveyed the property, and attempted to adjust the location of the route. 

"Ultimately, they were unable to agree, and Lone Star began condemnation proceedings. The landowners objected to an award of damages by special commissioners. The landowners also filed a plea to the jurisdiction and a motion to dismiss in support of its plea, which was amended several times. In their plea to the jurisdiction and accompanying motion to dismiss, the landowners complained Lone Star failed to establish necessity as a threshold matter, because the determination contained in its consent was not valid as it was not executed by someone with authority to do so." 

Alleging it did not act in bad faith, and that it fulfilled the requirements for easement, Lone Star had its motion for summary judgment granted by the lower court.

In his ruling, Kreger dismissed the landowners' claims of error, stating "the trial court did not err in denying the landowners’ plea to the jurisdiction and motion to dismiss, and the trial court properly granted Lone Star’s motion for partial summary judgment on that issue."

Texas Ninth District Court of Appeals case number 09-18-00173-CV

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