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Louisiana Supreme Court Rules On Creation of Servitudes

In June of 2019, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion reversing the First Circuit’s decision holding that an act creating a servitude did not authorize a lessee to construct a replacement pipeline. W&T Offshore, L.L.C. v. Texas Brine Corporation, 2018-0950 (La. 6/26/19) — So.3d —- 2019 WL 2896773. In doing so, the Court “emphasized” that its holding is ‘limited to the precise and narrow facts before the court and should not be interpreted expansively beyond the specific factual confines presented.’

The per curiam opinion is abbreviated and perfunctory. More interesting is Judge Weimer’s well-reasoned dissent wherein he opens by reviewing the cardinal civilian principles governing servitudes and reiterates the well-entrenched maxim that, in cases of doubt, such agreements are to be interpreted in favor of the owner of the property. Judge Weimer goes on to reason that the underlying act can in no way be read to authorize the construction of a replacement pipeline.

As noted above, the Court limited its ruling to the facts of the case before it, so its jurisprudential utility is non-existent. But Judge Weimer’s dissent provides an expansive overview of the law governing the interpretation of servitudes and provides a fruitful starting point for anyone dealing with a servitude dispute.

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Hansel Harlan

Prior to forming Harlan Law Firm, Hansel worked with another Law Firm, Phelps Dunbar in the Commercial Litigation Section. Mr. Harlan had a general national commercial litigation practice with a…

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