Court affirms exemption of peremption against Lafourche Paris Water District on pipeline construction

By Gabriel Neves | Apr 15, 2019

BATON ROUGE – The Lafourche Paris Water District, which was attempting to fight an exemption of peremption against a building company that has been building a pipeline, has suffered a loss in court.

State Judge Vanessa Whipple, on the bench of the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, issued an eight-page ruling on March 13, affirming the 17th Judicial District Court's decision in the lawsuit filed by the district against Digco Utility Construction LP and Auger Services Inc.

In addition to affirming the exemption, the court also dismissed all claims against Digco with prejudice.

"On May 22, 2006, LPWD entered into a contract with Digco to construct an 18-inch public water pipeline from the Leeville Booster Station to the Leeville Bridge," Whipple wrote, "(where Digco) utilized directional drilling to lay a water transmission line underground" to complete the project.

The project was completed on Jan. 31, 2007.

Over seven years later, subcontractor Auger was transporting steel caissons into the ground as part of a project of installation of electrical transmission lines, when the caissons came into contact with the water lines built by Digco.

The water lines ruptured and flooded to the surface, forcing the Lafourche Paris Water District (LPWD) to make emergency repairs.

"On Aug. 27, 2015, LPWD filed a petition for damages and breach of contract against Digco and Auger, averring that Digco laid the waterline nearly 30 feet deeper than the plans and specifications required, outside of the existing 8-foot right of way, and without correctly marking the location of the waterline. LPWD sought damages for all costs associated with remedial work to repair and replace any and all damaged waterlines and valves," the ruling said.

After LPWD sought damages in a lawsuit, Digco filed an exemption of peremption, stating, per the ruling, that "LPWD' s claims against it are perempted under the five-year peremptive period" established by state law.

The lower court granted the exemption on May 15, 2018.

In her ruling, Whipple stated that "where the Supreme Court has specifically instructed that the five-year time limitation period set forth in LSA-R.S. 38: 2189 is peremptive, because LPWD' s suit was not filed within five years of either acceptance of the work or substantial completion, we find no error in the judgment of the district court maintaining Digco' s exception of peremption."

Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Case No. 2018 CA 1112

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