Civil Procedure Keyed to Glannon
Avitts v. Amoco Production Co.
Avitts (Plaintiffs) filed suit in Texas state district court against Amoco Production Co. and other oil companies (Defendants) to recover money damages for property damage caused by Defendants’ oil and gas operations. Since Plaintiffs’ complaint stated that the damages caused by Defendants were “in violation of not only State law but also Federal law,” the matter was removed to federal court in the Southern District of Texas. Although Plaintiffs’ complaint referenced federal law, Plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action under federal law by not specifying which federal laws Defendants had violated. With a notice of removal, Defendants also filed a motion for a more definite statement under 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After the district court denied Defendant’s motion for a more definite statement, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint but failed to state a federal question. Despite several amended complaints, Plaintiffs’ complaints never conferred federal jurisdiction. Plaintiffs did reference the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) in the Joint Pretrail Order (PTO) as a means to calculate the measure of damages owed to Plaintiffs; however, Plaintiffs failed to raise such causes of action in any of Plaintiffs’ complaints. After the district court entered interim orders requiring Defendants to complete an environmental study and to pay around $650,000 in interim costs and attorney’s fees, Defendants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on a consolidated appeal.
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