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What is a Legacy Lawsuit?
A legacy lawsuit refers to a lawsuit by a landowner claiming that oil and gas operations, often many years ago, caused his property to become polluted and contaminated. These suits typically name every operator who ever worked at the site as defendants, often going back decades. Legislation was enacted to balance the rights of landowners with the requirement to clean up sites. However, it has been circumvented by a handful of plaintiff lawyers who file outrageous claims while not allowing for cleanup at the site. This results in companies- often many years removed from exploration activities- facing numerous lawsuits and being forced to choose between extreme settlement demands or going through a lengthy trial without having the opportunity to address the clean up.
LSU Center for Energy Studies Report
According to a recent report by David Dismukes, professor and associate executive director of the Center for Energy Studies at LSU, legacy lawsuits have led to a significant reduction in state conventional drilling activity. A few key findings of the report are highlighted below.
Cumulative legacy-induced economic impacts are estimated to have led to the reduction of:
- Approximately $6.7 billion (in 2010 dollars) in decreased drilling expenditures
- Close to $10.5 billion in Louisiana economic output
- Over 30,000 employment opportunities in oil and gas activities and supporting jobs
- More than $1.5 billion in wages for those employed directly and indirectly in the oil and gas business