Justia Utilities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Oglethorpe Power Corp., et al. v. Forrister, et al.
Appellant owned and operated the Sewell Creek Energy Facility, a "peaking" power plant that began operating in 2000. Appellees, neighbors of the power plant, filed suit in 2007 alleging that the power plant constituted a nuisance. At issue was whether appellants were entitled to summary judgment where the power plant was either a permanent nuisance or continuing nuisance that could be abated. The court found that the power plant's exhaust silencing system, which was an integral part of the gas turbines that generated power, was an enduring feature of the power plant's plan of construction and the noise emanating from the exhaust stacks resulted from the essential method of the plant's operation. Consequently, the exhaust stacks were a permanent nuisance. Thus, the court held that the Court of Appeals erred when it omitted any consideration of whether the nuisance resulted from an enduring feature of the power plant's plan of construction or an essential method of its operation and grappled only with whether the nuisance could be abated at "slight expense." The court held that appellees' action was barred under the statute of limitation for permanent nuisances because they did not file their lawsuit until almost seven years after the plant became operational, unless some new harm that was not previously observable occurred within the four years preceding the filing of their cause of action. The court also held that, to the extent the trial court found that a factual issue remained concerning whether there was an "adverse change in the nature" of the noises and vibrations coming from the plant after the start of the 2004 operating season, the denial of summary judgment was appropriate. By contrast, to the extent that the trial court found that a factual issue remained concerning whether there was an "adverse change in the... extent and amount" of the noises and vibrations after the 2004 operating season, the denial of summary judgment was inappropriate. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Oglethorpe Power Corp., et al. v. Forrister, et al." on Justia Law
MCI Communications Serv., Inc. v. Hagan, et al
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, Wayne Hagan and James Joubert, alleging that Joubert was negligently excavating on a backhoe and severed plaintiff's underground fiber-optic cable in violation of the Louisiana Damage Prevention Act, LA. REV. STAT. ANN 40:1749,11 et seq., and that Hagan was vicariously liable because Joubert was acting as his agent at the time. At issue was whether the district court erred when it refused to give the jury plaintiff's proposed instruction on trespass. Also at issue was whether the district court erred when it excluded statements made by Hagan's attorney to plaintiff's employee under Federal Rule of Evidence 408; when it refused to certify plaintiff's witness as an expert; and when it held that defendants were entitled to attorneys' fees and costs. The court certified the first issue where the Louisiana Supreme Court had not previously determined what standard of intent was used for trespass to underground utility cables and the issue was determinative of whether plaintiff was entitled to a new trial on its trespass claim. The court held that the statements made by Hagan's attorney to plaintiff's employer could have been excluded on other grounds given that it was inadmissible hearsay against Joubert and therefore, the court declined to remand for a new trial on this ground. The court also held that the district court did not commit a reversible error where plaintiff did not proffer the substance of plaintiff's witness' excluded testimony. Finally, the court deferred addressing the attorneys' fees issue pending the Louisiana Supreme Court's decision on the first issue.