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Bradbury v. Phillips Petroleum Co.

815 F.2d 1356 (1987)

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Bradbury v. Phillips Petroleum Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

815 F.2d 1356 (1987)

Facts

Phillips Petroleum Company (Phillips) (defendant) conducted a three-year project exploring for uranium near Placerville, Colorado. The project involved drilling numerous holes to test subsurface minerals where landowners and mineral-rights owners gave Phillips permission. Phillips hired a survey company to locate the mining claims and Desert Drilling Company (DMC) to drill the holes. Phillips’s geologist, Cathy Suda, oversaw the operation. Phillips was supposed to confirm the surveys had located the mining claims correctly but evidently failed to do so. During the summers of 1979 and 1980, seven landowners claimed DMC employees trespassed on their land, causing property damage or escaped livestock. Phillips or DMC settled each claim by paying for the damage, with Phillips trying to maintain good public relations. Landowner Alan Bradbury (plaintiff) told DMC employees they were drilling on land belonging to his neighbor, Thom Panunzio (plaintiff) without permission and photographed them. The next day, Bradbury returned with a mineral-rights owner and maps, and Suda conceded they might be on the wrong land. When Bradbury took more photos, DMC employees demanded the film. Bradbury ran. DMC employees chased him onto his property and violently wrestled the camera away, causing injury. Panunzio and Bradbury sued for trespass, property damage, assault and battery, and outrageous conduct. At trial, the judge allowed evidence of the other claims Phillips had settled. The jury awarded Panunzio and Bradbury over $75,000 each. Phillips appealed, arguing that the judge should have excluded the settlements.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barrett, J.)

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