BATON ROUGE – An acquisition and payout led to the state of Louisiana filing an appeal after it lost its case against an oyster bedding occupant based on a May 14 opinion from the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit.
The state, through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), filed an appeal after the Nineteenth Judicial District Court ruled against it in a lawsuit filed by Bayou Canard Inc.
Bayou Canard beds oysters. CPRA informed Bayou Canard it would acquire part of its property and that Bayou Canard would be paid. The acquisition was successful, and CPRA purchased 10.15 percent of Bayou Canard’s property and paid it more than $174,000.
Bayou Canard subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state, through CPRA and stated the amount it received was based on a harvest efficiency ratio, which subsequently led to a lesser payout. Both parties filed a motion for summary judgment. The lower court denied CPRA’s and granted Bayou Canard’s. Bayou Canard was also awarded $7,500 in legal expenses.
The appeals court agreed with the defendant’s appeal and reversed the lower court’s decision.
In the appeal, CPRA stated four issues: 1) the trial court erred when it permitted the lawsuit to continue prior to Bayou Canard exhausting its administrative remedies 2) the trial court should have not granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment because the harvest sufficiency ratio is not a regulation via the state. CPRA also said issues between Bayou Canard and the Louisiana Oyster Task Force and whether Bayou Canard was obligated by the task force’s endorsements is still in question.
CPRA argued the trial court should have granted the state’s motion for summary judgment as Bayou Canard’s contract as an occupant blocks it from bringing a lawsuit.
The appeals court first stated the two issues were meritless. It pointed out the OLACP allows an oyster lessee to appeal the appropriateness of the acquisition and compensation of the lease via an administrative hearing. It stated the harvest efficiency ratio procedure is a regulation that cannot be enforced as it is not correctly accepted.
For the third issue, the appeals court saidt the lease “eliminates any right whatsoever of Bayou Canard to make any claims against CPRA…” Considering this, it reversed the summary judgment in favor of Bayou Canard and the denial against CPRA. This lead to the appeals court reversing the attorney fees in favor of Bayou Canard.