Landown­ers’ law­suit against pipeline dis­missed

Texarkana Gazette - - MORE METRO/STATE ON PAGE 6C | METRO/STATE - By Blake Ni­chol­son

BISMARCK, N. D.— A fed­eral judge has dis­missed a law­suit filed by nearly two dozen North Dakota landown­ers who al­leged the de­vel­oper of the Dakota Ac­cess oil pipeline and a con­sul­tant used de­ceit and fraud to ac­quire pri­vate land ease­ments for the project.

But a court case in Iowa in­volv­ing the pipeline and landown­ers is ex­pected to linger into next year.

In North Dakota, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Daniel Hov­land in a rul­ing dated Tues­day sided with a sub­sidiary of Texas-based En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners and Con­tract Land Staff, a land ac­qui­si­tion con­sult­ing busi­ness also based in that state. The two com­pa­nies dis­puted that the landown­ers had any valid claims, and Hov­land also found their ar­gu­ments lack­ing.

“The court finds that the plain­tiffs have clearly failed to specif­i­cally al­lege who made the fraud­u­lent state­ments, when the state­ments were made, and to whom the state­ments were made,” the judge wrote.

The $3.8 bil­lion pipeline be­gan mov­ing North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a dis­tri­bu­tion point in Illi­nois on June 1.

The 21 North Dakota landown­ers sued in Jan­uary, seek­ing more than $4 mil­lion in dam­ages for what they called “mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions, de­cep­tion or other un­fair tac­tics.”

They al­leged the Texas com­pa­nies en­gaged in fraud while ne­go­ti­at­ing to lay pipeline on pri­vate land, re­sult­ing in com­pen­sa­tion that was as much as nine times lower than what other landown­ers got. They also al­leged they were told that if they didn’t agree to the of­fered amount, they faced los­ing money or get­ting noth­ing ei­ther be­cause their land would be con­demned through em­i­nent do­main or the pipeline would be moved else­where.

Hov­land ruled that the landown­ers didn’t ad­e­quately prove their claims of wrong­do­ing, and he said it’s im­pos­si­ble to know whether they might have re­ceived a bet­ter deal un­der other cir­cum­stances.

At­tor­neys for the landown­ers did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to phone and email re­quests for com­ment Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day.

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