Louisiana’s Subsequent Purchaser Rule Bars Property Owner’s Claims


On April 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling in a Louisiana case that dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for property damage based on contamination caused to his property by long-term oil and gas operations conducted by the predecessors of Hess Corporation. The case is Guilbeau v. Hess Corporation.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Hess Corporation’s argument that Louisiana law (known as the “subsequent purchaser rule”) bars claims for damages that occurred before the plaintiff’s purchase of the property. According to the Court of Appeals, Hess Corporation’s predecessors obtained mineral leases and conducted oil and gas operations until 1971; the leases themselves expired in 1973. Although in a diversity action Louisiana law controls, holding that Louisiana law was clear, the Court of Appeals saw no need to certify this case to the Louisiana Supreme Court.