Use of eminent domain for Bayou Bridge Pipeline is unconstitutional, attorney says

By Carrie Bradon | Dec 3, 2018

Owners of a 38-acre portion of land in the Atchafalaya Basin are infuriated as their land is now being challenged, not by the government, but by a pipeline company, a posting on said. 

A group including the Center for Constitutional Rights, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper and a Loyola University law professor, Bill Quigley, are suing Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, on behalf of the landowners. 

The group alleges that the eminent domain law for Louisiana does not constitutionally allow for a pipeline company to take action in seizing land without direct permission from a government agency; most states have requirements for these companies which don't allow eminent domain to take place without a permit from the public service commission.

Peter Vujin, a Miami-based attorney, recently spoke with the Louisiana Record about the situation and why the constitution is, in his opinion, being violated by the pipeline company.

"The intent to skirt the statute is obvious: the gas company never spoke to the landowners and therefore did not follow the law and did not fulfill a condition precedent – to attempt to settle with the landowners. ... The gas company just acted like a governmental entity and seized the lands," Vujin said. 

According to Vujin, the landowners have been put in a very difficult decision, as they have now have had to seek out legal representation just to maintain what is already theirs.

"Luckily they were able to find pro-bono attorneys due to the constitutional enormity of this case and battle this in court for an unknown period of time just to receive what the constitution already gives them, that is, just compensation," Vujin said.

Vujin said that this is, in his opinion, another assault by large multinational corporations on the constitution.

"The original owners must be compensated, and the gas company should be penalized for its failure to follow the statutes," Vujin said.

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