Donnell Lands, Eagle Ford Shale, Eminent Domain, gas, LaSalle Pipeline, oil, Pipelines, Property Laws, property rights, San Antonio, Texas Supreme Court
In some condemnation proceeding involving pipelines, three types of damages can potentially be taken into consideration: 1) the permanent damage caused by the presence of the pipeline; 2) the temporary damage caused by the laying out of the pipeline; and 3) the remaining lands’ diminution of value. In LaSalle Pipeline, LP v. Donnell Lands, LP, the landowner was initially offered a special commissioners’ award of $19,026 in compensation for the temporary workspace easements, $34,533 for the permanent easements, and $604,950 for the diminution of value to the remaining property. LaSalle Pipelines appealed, arguing for insufficient evidence as to the amounts awarded for the temporary easements and the remaining property. Additionally, LaSalle argued that two of the jury members had a preexisting bias in favor of Donnell Lands. The Court of Appeals ruled the following: 1) the jury did not err in its $604,950 award for the diminution of value to the remaining property; 2) the expert appraisals’ methods were sound; 3) the trial court did err in its award for temporary workspace damages, reducing the award to $6,402; 4) LaSalle failed to establish venire members’ existing bias.
The implications of this case are quite large. With the growing number of condemnation cases in the Eagle Ford Shale area, pipeline companies are now obligated to provide compensation for the damage done to the remainder of the condemnee’s land. Not only does this alter the general predictability of eminent domain cases in Texas, it also implies gradual shifts towards increasing the value of the landowner’s voice.