Pipelines must have access to land in order to install new pipes to transport oil, gas or other chemicals. However, one case in Texas provided a significant victory for landowners with a judgment for $2.1 million because the company reduced the property value.
In North Texas, landowners claimed that an easement for a pipeline caused the rest of the property to lose value. The easement was for a gas line to export natural gas by Peregrine Pipeline Company. The company sued a family-owned company to gain access to a mile-long stretch of property. The pipeline company claimed $80,000 in damages which was supported by a group of special commissioners, but the appraisers for the family argued that damages should not just be for the portion included in the easement but for any damages to the rest of the property.
The trial was held in County Court in Johnson County in 2014 with Judge Robert Dohoney presiding. The jury voted in favor of the family and awarded the family over $1.6 million. That amount was then increased to $2.1 million to include interest on the original amount.
This is a situation that often happens when a company obtains an easement on to a property. The surrounding property may be affected either because of restricted access or another issue that reduces the value. In the case of transporting gas, the risk of leakage is another issue that can impact land values.
This is the third time that landowners in Texas have been victors in eminent domain cases. However, it is the largest win with over 25 times the amount offered being awarded. Two previous cases also awarded damages for decreased value for surrounding properties which were affected by easements, which are setting precedents for future cases.