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State of Louisiana Seeks to Claim Privately Owned Lands

by Kenneth E. DuBose on May 23, 2014

A dispute over mineral rights ownership, originating in DeSoto Parish, LA, has now evolved into a sticky situation that could potentially impact thousands of Louisiana mineral owners. The issue specifically centers around the state’s attempt to claim ownership of certain tracts of privately owned land that have previously been traversed by navigable waterways.

In January of 2014, the DeSoto Parish District Court ruled the state of Louisiana could not intervene in an unsettled civil lawsuit between landowners and oil and gas companies over mineral rights covering more than 1,000 acres in the parish. The state, which has claimed approximately 800 acres of the privately held land, claims the acreage was traversed by navigable waterways at the time of statehood, although most portions of the land are no longer covered by water. Currently, the state of Louisiana is appealing the ruling of the DeSoto Parish District Court before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Shreveport, LA.

Should the state win its appeal, and be included in the original lawsuit, the case has the potential to set a precedent that could impact mineral owners whose lands have been traversed by navigable waterways. Mineral owners in Louisiana need to pay particular attention to how this case plays out, and other similar cases currently being litigated in the state, because even if your land is not covered by navigable waterways, it’s possible it was at some point. Therefore, the state could potentially lay claim to your property.

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