NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court has overturned a lower court's finding that the plaintiffs were too late in asking for review of summary judgments on companies constructing pipelines on their property.
Plaintiffs Alden Chauvin, Anyce Chauvin Lambert and Melvin Cannon of St. Charles Parish sued Shell Oil, Shell Pipeline, Air Products and Chemicals, Valero Refining-New Orleans, Bengal Pipeline and Parkway Pipeline, claiming trespassing and illegal construction of pipelines and accessory equipment on their properties.
A trial court judge ruled in favor of the defendants in March 2016, dismissing the plaintiffs' claims with prejudice.
According to an order entered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, the trial court judgment was on March 30, 2016.
Plaintiffs sought a new trial on April 14, 2016, arguing that the judgment was "contrary to the law and evidence," which a judge denied on April 29, 2016, the Fifth Circuit ruling said.
Later, plaintiffs filed a motion for "devolutive appeal" on June 22, 2016, seeking review of the trial court’s March 24, 2016 summary judgment ruling.
The trial court ultimately found that the Fifth Circuit had jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs' devolutive appeal. When the appeals court took up the matter, it held that the plaintiffs' motion for appeal was untimely and should not have been granted.
Plaintiffs had 60 days from April 8, 2016 to file an appeal, but they did not file their motion until June 22, 2016, the Fifth Circuit held.
The Louisiana Supreme Court found otherwise.
"This request for a new trial was timely as was the subsequent devolutive appeal," the high court held in a March 31 order.
The high court reinstated the plaintiffs' appeal and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit for consideration on merits.
Dissenting from the majority were justices Marcus Clark and Scott Crichton, who would have denied the plaintiffs' writ of certiorari.