A 2015 update:
Texas Brine Co., beset by a series of lawsuits blaming it for the Bayou Corne sinkhole disaster, is seeking $100 million in damages from Occidental Petroleum Corp., claiming that the worldwide oil driller caused the now 31-acre hole in the south Louisiana swamp.
The claim, made Thursday in Assumption Parish through a series of suits filed in ongoing sinkhole litigation, puts forward a theory for the sinkhole’s beginning that tries to deflect any liability for Texas Brine and partly contradicts the official theory of the sinkhole’s appearance in early August 2012.
State scientists and a special panel of worldwide experts have said for more than two years that Texas Brine mined a salt dome cavern too close to the dome’s outer, supporting wall of salt. A breach opened up in that salt wall and allowed surrounding rock to flood into the massive underground cavity carved from the salt deposit, creating the sinkhole in the cypress swamp near Bayou Corne.
In 2016, litigation is still pending:
A federal court in Louisiana has found that Louisiana law applies to a Texas company’s claims against its excess insurer relating to actions filed against the company for damages resulting from an incident on property in Louisiana. LeBlanc v. Texas Brine Co., LLC, 2015 WL 7451196 (E.D. La. Nov. 23, 2015).
Actions were filed against a Texas company for damages resulting from a sinkhole that developed on property in Louisiana. It sued its liability insurers seeking defense and indemnity and moved for summary judgment, urging the application of Louisiana law universally to all of its insurers. Its excess insurer cross-moved for summary judgment, seeking a ruling that Texas law applied to the company’s claims against it.
The court denied the insured’s motion for a choice of law ruling against all of its insurers but found that as to the excess insurer, whose policy contained no choice of law provision, Louisiana has the most significant relationship with the litigation and the most interest in having its law applied to the coverage dispute. Accordingly, it held that Louisiana law governs any dispute under the excess policy.
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