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Pipeline owners file $300 million breach of contract lawsuit against midstream operator

An amended breach of contract lawsuit was filed by Magellan Midstream Partners and Plains All American Pipeline against Stampede Energy, seeking over $300 million in damages over an oil transport deal.

The lawsuit claims that Stampede did not meet minimum volume obligations on the BridgeTex pipeline from March 2015 through 2016, breaching its contract. The BridgeTex pipeline carries around 300,000 barrels per day from Colorado City, Texas to the Gulf Coast. Stampede is a privately held midstream operator.

From mid-2014 to early 2016, oil prices dropped by more than 70 percent, prompting production cuts and leading several energy firms to declare bankruptcy. Pipelines function like toll roads, so they are generally considered to be better protected from commodity price fluctuations, but with fewer barrels to ship, pipelines have been affected by output declines.

An amended petition filed March 22 claimed that Stampede owed the plaintiffs over $311.8 million, including interest and late fees, for breaching its shipping obligations. The BridgeTex firms also filed a claim against Ballengee Interests, which guaranteed payments owed by Stampede.

According to court documents, Stampede agreed in August 2014 to ship 30,000 barrels per day of crude and condensate on BridgeTex, which is about 10 percent of the pipeline’s capacity. Court filings state that Stampede executed a Transportation Service Agreement calling for the company to ship on the pipeline for 29 quarters.

Texas mental health center files breach of contract lawsuit against software provider

A mental health center in Texas is suing a software provider for breach of contract.

The lawsuit was filed in state district court in Waco by the Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center (MHMR), against CoCentrix Inc., a Florida-based company. The lawsuit seeks a refund of $250,000 that the agency claims it paid the software provider, as well as triple damages available under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

According to the lawsuit, MHMR contracted with UNI/CARE Systems Inc. to provide software for a records system. CoCentrix later assumed all obligations under the contract, which specified that support documentation, training, installation and consulting would be provided.

MHMR claims that it paid $250,000 under the contract, but the software provider was not able to provide a system that met the necessary criteria. In fact, MHMR alleges that the software system provided could not even be tested successfully. The agency claims that the contract provides for the return of the $250,000 if the system could not be properly installed.

According to the lawsuit, CoCentrix missed more than 10 deadlines for the software to be completed. MHMR states that it terminated the contract on or about September 3, 2015 and demanded a refund of the money it had paid to the defendant, but CoCentrix did not refund the money.

Former Professor Sues University of Houston, Alleging Employment Discrimination

The University of Houston has been sued by a former life sciences professor who claims her employment was unlawfully terminated.

Adriana Alcantara filed the lawsuit in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas on February 25, naming the University of Houston as defendant and alleging employment discrimination.

The lawsuit argues that Alcantara was harassed by an assistant professor, Dr. Leigh Leasure, while she was employed as a professor at the university, beginning in September 2007. Alcantara taught phycology, the study of algae.

According to the suit, Leasure yelled at Alcantara, prevented her from using essential lab equipment, and interfered with her experiments and recruitment of students.

The suit also claims that Leasure was a participant in Alcantara’s tenure evaluation, and that Alcantara was denied tenure on May 29, 2012. Alcantara alleges that she was denied tenure because she is a Hispanic female.

Federal law and Texas law prohibit employment discrimination based on race or gender.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and benefits, damages, attorney’s fees, interest and court costs. The case is Houston Division Court Case No. 4:14-cv-00463.

The University of Houston is a state research university with nearly 41,000 students and over 3,000 academic staff members.

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