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Parish of Plaquemines v. Total Petrochemical & Refining USA, Inc.

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20256
Nos. 13-6693, (E.D. La., 12/01/2014) (Zainey, J.)

A district court remanded to state court a Louisiana parish's lawsuit against 19 oil and gas companies for alleged environmental damages stemming from the companies' exploration, production, and transportation activities. The parish claims these operations were conducted in violation of the State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act of 1978 and caused considerable damage to its coast. The case was originally filed in state court, but the defendant companies then removed the action to federal court. In opposition to the parish's motion to remand, the defendant companies argued that this action was properly removed from state court, but the court disagreed. The court refused to find diversity jurisdiction based on the defendants' argument that the parish egregiously misjoined the claims asserted in the petition. Nor does the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act provide federal jurisdiction. The activities and operations that the parish alleges to have caused its injury all occurred in state waters where defendants’ activities were subject to Louisiana’s permitting scheme. None of the activities, including those that involved pipelines that ultimately stretch to the outer continental shelf (OCS), took place on the OCS. The "mere connection" between the claims asserted and an OCS operation is simply "too remote" to establish federal jurisdiction. Likewise, the defendants failed to establish that maritime law provides a basis for removal. The court, therefore, remanded the matter to the state court from which it was removed.