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New Eminent Domain Laws in Texas Critical for Eagle Ford Shale Landowners to Know

Landowners and communities stand to greatly benefit from the oil and natural gas boom that is happening in the Eagle Ford shale area in south Texas. With attractive figures to lease land, negotiate mineral rights, and have land appreciate quickly, landowners are lining up to attract oil and gas companies. But with that comes oil and gas companies that want to exert their influence through their powers of eminent domain.

The laws recently changed on September 1 of this year so that oil and gas companies cannot be as cut-throat with landowners as they have been in the past couple of years. Public and private companies now have new requirements and deadlines under Texas law when they want a landowner’s easement for the coveted natural resources. Overall, companies must register with the Texas Comptroller by December 31, 2012 to keep their eminent domain powers. Otherwise, a company will lose their right to condemn a piece of land on September 1, 2013.

The new law also allows landowners to build a street or road above a pipeline easement on their land. Landowners must still adhere to size, construction material, and road direction regulations according to the state laws. The road cannot interfere with a pipeline operation or the ability to maintain it; but this also is a benefit to the landowner in his or her negotiations with a natural resources company.

Landowners should be happy to learn that the new law requires pipeline and power companies to give them a good faith offer before any lawsuit is filed to obtain an easement on their land. Companies must offer an amount that is at least equal to a current appraisal of the land desired. Landowners will have more time to review the offer and are allowed legal representation to help negotiate for the fairest offer. When landowners have an oil and gas offer or dispute, they need to promptly contact an experienced Texas oil and gas lawyer. To learn more, contact Austin oil and gas attorney Gregory D. Jordan at (512) 419-0684.

Wrongful Termination Sabine Pilot Claims Are a Hot Topic in Employment Law

A wrongful termination Sabine Pilot claim can be made when an employee is fired for refusing to commit an illegal act. Such claims have been in the spotlight because of a case recently argued by Austin employment attorney Gregory D. Jordan in front of the Texas Supreme Court, Safeshred, Inc. v. Louis Martinez, III.

As a result of the Martinez case, the Texas Supreme Court should soon decide whether an employer can be held liable for punitive damages if it fires an employee for refusing to engage in illegal conduct. In order to deter reprehensible conduct that promotes illegal activity, such damages should be allowed.

There are at least two basic concepts that every employee or employer in Texas should know about Sabine Pilot claims. First, if an employee is fired for refusing to do something illegal, that employee may have a cause of action against his employer. Second, even if the employee is a lower paid employee, he may be able to recover very significant damages if the Texas Supreme Court decides that punitive damages can be recovered in this type of case.

To learn more about employee and employer rights, contact Austin employment lawyer and Austin business attorney Gregory D. Jordan who handles Sabine Pilot matters for both employees and employers at (512) 419-0684.

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