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Plaintiff attorneys argue Bayou Bridge should pay up for violating property rights

Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 29, 2018

 

After three days, testimony ended on Thursday for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline eminent domain lawsuit.

16th Judicial District Judge Keith Comeaux is taking the testimony into consideration and will issue a written ruling sometime next week.

Both sides are writing memos to Judge Comeaux while he considers the evidence presented over the trial.

Energy Transfer Partners is asking the judge to grant the company eminent domain for the private land they built the Bayou Bridge Pipeline despite not having the landowners permission.

The environmental attorneys are asking Judge Comeaux to deny the company expropriation and pull the pipeline out of the private property.

Energy Transfer Partners presented boxes full of permits and document during the trial to argue that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline is environmentally up-to-standard, as well as a benefit to the public.

Environmental attorneys argue that ETP violated the landowner’s constitutional rights by not following proper due process before seizing the land.

“The only person that testified as to why we need more pipelines in Louisiana is a guy at LSU that they paid $10,000 dollars. He didn’t say anything about cancer alley, he didn’t say anything about the destruction of the Atchafalaya Basin, he didn’t say anything about the destruction of the wetlands,” said Loyola University New Orleans Law Professor Bill Quigley.

They hope that the judge’s ruling will set a precedent for future eminent domain disputes between oil corporations and landowners.

“Public purpose should consider more than just economic gain of the company and the economic benefit of the project. And, so what we are trying to impress upon the court and the entire legal system in the state of Louisiana is the entire picture should be taken into account. All of the benefits, the touted benefits, as well as all the detriments that this type of activity would cause,” said Atchafalaya Basin attorney Misha Mitchell.

If the plaintiffs win, they want to send ETP a message that attorneys say will be in the only language they say the company seems to understand.

“What we’re asking the judge in the memo that we’re going to file, is that the judge should award these people enough money for the damage to that property, and the damage to their constitutional rights, to award these folks enough money to send a message to this corporation that just because you’re worth a billion dollars, that you still have to follow the law,” said Quigley.

The plaintiffs say they will put any money they’re awarded in the trial toward conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin and Louisiana’s natural environment.

KATC reached out to ETP’s attorneys again, but they declined to comment.