May 21, 2013 2:23 PM
After a decade and a half of legal wrangling, a legacy lawsuit over oil company contamination in Vermilion Parish came to a close with a settlement deal signed Friday.
"We are I can't go into any great details because of confidentiality agreement, but as a member of the family and as attorney for the Broussard family, I can say that we are very, very happy with this settlement," said Warren Perrin, a lawyer from Erath.
Filed in 1997, the lawsuit sprouted from a 75-year lease signed in 1942 between Aristide Broussard and Texaco Oil Company. Over the years, environmental damage on the property and growing contamination from saltwater pits, radioactive material and other industrial waste led the family to end the lease and seek damages from the current owners of the property, where a portion of the Henry Hub gas transfer facility had been built.
"It marks a major step forward for cleaning the environment around the Henry Hub facility and for the long-term protection of the Chicot water aquifer in the region," Perrin added.
The case had gone through three judges during its long life. The first, Judge Byron Hebert, retired. His replacement, Judge Edward Broussard, recused himself because of a conflict of interest. Judge Ed Rubin was appointed, but asked supreme court to appoint an ad hoc judge because of the complexity of the issues involved in the case.
That led to the reappointment of Judge Hebert, who came out of retirement to handle the case.
The details of the settlement between the Broussard heirs, Chevron and Sabine are confidential, but the amount is predicted to be in the millions of dollars. The family had turned down a request to sell the land to the companies previously for $1 million.
"We still have several other cases pending in area and have much work to be done," Perrin said, "but I am happy this settlement ends some 16 years of litigation between the companies and descendants of Aristide and Leontine Broussard."
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