Michael Sanders of Sanders PLLC was part of a team of attorneys who secured victory for a client in the 9th Court of Appeals of Texas on a case involving municipal attempts to stop oil & gas operations. Mr. Sanders and his co-counsel represent an individual landowner in a lawsuit filed against a Texas city, alleging that the city was improperly interfering with oil & gas activities. In the lawsuit against the city, the plaintiff sued for violations of Section 81.0523 of the Texas Natural Resources Code. The Texas Legislature enacted Section 81.0523 in 2015 in response to one city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing. Section 81.0523 prohibits cities and counties from regulating oil & gas activity, with certain exceptions. Cities are not allowed to use traffic, noise, and similar ordinances to stop oil & gas activity. When the city began using an inapplicable traffic ordinance to stop trucks going to and from the landowner’s property for the purpose of oil & gas activity, the landowner filed suit.
The defendant city and its director of public works moved to dismiss the lawsuit based on sovereign immunity. The trial court in Jefferson County denied the plea to the jurisdiction, and the defendants appealed that decision. The Beaumont Court of Appeals ruled that claims against the defendants could proceed in the trial court. Importantly, the 9th Court of Appeals held that the trial court did have the power to enjoin the defendants from violating Section 81.0523.
The case has been remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. The firm’s client will continue pursuing his claims against the defendants, with the goal of stopping the city’s interference with oil & gas activities.
When they are sued, cities will almost always assert the doctrine of sovereign immunity to dispose of the lawsuit. Sanders PLLC and its co-counsel were able to successfully defend the landowner’s position that he should be allowed to pursue the litigation to stop the city’s violations of state law. For more information on Mr. Sanders’ experience, please see his bio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-338-2677.