Property Damage from Louisiana Oil and Gas Operations
Need help cleaning up your property? Can’t hold former or current operators accountable?
Louisiana families whose land has oil and gas operations are often left with a lot of questions, but families can have trouble getting straight answers from the operators. Even if you just live near a pipeyard or oilfield operations and are worried about the possible impact it may have had on your property or your family, we can help you get answers. We can help regardless whether you lease the land to operators, whether you do not own minerals, or whether you simply live near operations.
Oil and Gas operations often result in dangerous concentrations of radioactive material, particularly in pipe scale, produced waters and tanks. There has been a long legacy of polluting leased properties and leaving the radioactive material behind when the lease is spent. Louisiana law requires oil and gas operators not to cause property damage, and holding them accountable does not prevent good operators from working your land. But you have to get help against the bad operators, especially when you just don’t know where to start. That’s why we are here.
Click here for the Grefer family’s story…
For years, neither Joseph Grefer, a retired judge in New Orleans, nor his siblings gave very much thought to the heavy industry taking place on a large tract of land the family had owned for more than 100 years alongside an industrial canal in nearby Harvey, La.
The contactors who owned Intercoastal Tubular Service, or ITCO, had known the Grefer family for ages. ITCO worked with many of Louisiana’s oil-and-gas drillers, including the massive Exxon Corp., to refurbish pipe – as much as 180,000 tons in a given year – and other critical equipment from the oil patch. For the Grefers, the lease had been a dependable source of income until 1987 – the year ITCO abruptly went out of business.
This was right about the same time that the news media and others were discovering a once closely-held secret among Big Oil executives and their scientific experts – that the pipe that once littered the Grefer’s property in Harvey had been covered in a dust called scale that was highly radioactive. Millions of pounds of this dangerous scale, laced with material such as radium-226 and radium-228, had contaminated the soil across much of the Grefers’ property. Our experts determined the clean-up costs would run in the millions of dollars.
Unfortunately, the Grefers’ situation was not unique. All across the Deep South during the height of the oil-industry boom of the latter 20th century, unscrupulous companies leased someone’s property for oil drilling or productions, or for pipe yards like ITCO, and then left behind a polluted mess. In addition to contaminated pipe and the soil that became polluted, these firms typically dug sludge pits or dumped liquid waste that was also radioactive. What’s more, their pollution often tainted the property belonging to neighbors or streams that ran through these parcels.
In the Grefer case, Exxon-Mobil (the two oil giants had merged right before the case went to trial in 2001) refused to consider fair compensation for cleaning up the property, so we took them to court. That was a big mistake on the part of the world’s largest oil company. Our team of lawyers and experts were able to show the jurors that Exxon had known for quite a long time about the radioactive danger from its tainted pipes — yet done nothing about it.
In the end, the jury awarded the Grefers $56 million to clean up the property in addition to a whopping $1 billion (with a “b”) in punitive damages for the gross negligence of Exxon. Despite desperate appeals, an appeals court ultimately order the company to pay more than a quarter-billion dollars. It was the largest judgment of its kind in U.S. history.
In Louisiana, a family’s property is considered sacred. It’s never an easy decision to take legal action, but there comes a time when a landowner needs to assert his rights. Over the years, too many bad operators have abused trust and left properties scarred and badly polluted. That could pose a health threat to you, your family, or to friends who might want to use your land for activities such as hunting or fishing.
Our lawyers are recognized nationally as the experts in oilfield-contamination cases. The Grefer case was just one of many instances in which we successfully fought for the rights of property holders. If you are a property owner who’s had a bad experience with an out-and-gas company leasing your land or operating nearby, our attorneys would like to speak with you, and help you to get the justice that you and your family deserve.
Our lawyers are recognized nationally as the experts in oilfield-contamination cases. The Grefer case was just one of many instances in which we successfully fought for the rights of property holders. If you are a property owner who’s had a bad experience with an oil and gas company leasing your land or operating nearby, our attorneys would like to speak with you, and help you to get the justice that you and your family deserve.
HOW AM I GOING TO AFFORD TO CLEAN MY LAND, WHEN THE ATTORNEY GETS A FEE?
WHAT IF I OWN COMMERCIAL PROPERTY?
WHAT IF A CLAIMS ADJUSTER FROM THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY INSPECTED MY PROPERTY AND IMMEDIATELY OFFERED ME A CHECK?
WHAT IF I FILED A CLAIM ALREADY WITH MY HOMEOWNER’S OR PROPERTY INSURER?
WHAT IF I ALREADY RECEIVED A SETTLEMENT CHECK?
Have you or your family been directly affected by oil and gas operators?
Send us a message and we will have a lawyer contact you for a free consultation.