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Broussard v. Dow Chemical Co.

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20008
Nos. 13-30544, (5th Cir., 12/30/2013)

The Fifth Circuit upheld the dismissal of a landowner's suit against a chemical company for damages stemming from natural gas well operations. The company operated the well in the late 1960s and early 1970s under a mineral lease that expired in 1975. The lease granted the landowners the right to sue for damages. The current landowner, who was deeded the property in 2009, now seeks damages from those operations, arguing that she was automatically assigned the right to sue. But relevant case law provides that prior landowners may not transfer the right to sue to an assignee when the lease has already expired. And landowners may only sue as a third-party beneficiary where there is an express assignment. Because the mineral lease expired before the current landowner obtained the property, and because right to sue was not expressly assigned, the suit was properly dismissed.