A Johnson County judge last week last month ordered a pipeline company to pay more than $1.6 million for a property easement that had previously been valued just under $80,000. The easement dated to 2007, and with back interest and expenses the jury's valuation came to $2.1 million.
According to court records, Peregrine Pipeline sought a 6,400-foot-long easement across a 99-acre parcel owned by Eagle Ford Land Partners L.P. for installation of a 16-inch natural gas pipeline. When the property owner and Peregrine could not agree on a value, Peregrine condemned the 20-foot-wide strip of land under eminent domain, and in October 2007 a special commissioners court set a value of $79,979 for the easement. That award included a permanent easement on the 20-foot easement, which altogether covered nearly 3 acres, and a temporary easement on a 55-foot-wide strip used only during construction.
But after a one-week trial in February, a Johnson County jury valued those two easements at $282,590. The six-person jury then found that the market value of the rest of the property was diminished by $1,350,410, for a total award of $1.633 million. With interest accruing at 5 percent annually, Judge Robert Dohoney issued his order on March 20 requiring Peregrine to pay a total of $2.1 million to Eagle Ford Land Partners.
According to a statement issued by Eagle Ford's attorney, Austin lawyer Luke Ellis, "this verdict sends a strong message that pipeline easements often cause significant damages to property beyond the easement area." Ellis said "many Texas landowners don’t realize that they have a constitutional right to seek just compensation for such damages." Peregrine plans to appeal, according to a statement from Ellis' firm.
-- Jim Fuquay