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Angus Chemical Co. v. Glendora Plantation, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
782 F.3d 175 (2015)


Facts

Angus Chemical Co. (plaintiffs) acquired a chemical plant with an existing 12” wastewater pipeline that ran through neighboring properties to a wastewater treatment facility three-and-a-half miles away. The right-of-way agreement entered by the prior owner and neighboring landowners created “a right of way and easement with the right to construct, maintain, inspect, operate, protect, alter, repair, replace and change the size of a pipeline.” After Angus acquired the plant, the pipe began leaking. Meanwhile, Glendora Plantation, Inc. (defendant), acquired one of the properties with the pipeline running through it. Angus sought permission from all the landowners to abandon the 12” pipeline and install a 16” pipeline. Glendora refused. Angus filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory judgment, constructed the 16” pipeline, and flushed, plugged, and abandoned the smaller one. The court granted Angus’s motion for partial summary judgment, finding that Angus had authority under the right-of-way agreement to construct the 16” pipeline and abandon the other in place. Glendora appealed, arguing that a subsequent agreement’s explicit inclusion of the right to abandon showed it was not intended in the first right-of-way, or at least created ambiguity. Glendora also pointed out that internal documents suggested Angus itself did not believe it had a right to abandon the first pipeline.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Benavides, J.)

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