Assistance to North Dakota Surface and Mineral Owners

Recently Northwest landowners Association and the Dakota Resource Council failed to persuade North Dakota legislators to help them protect their private property from the attenuation or destruction of their property by nearby location of oil energy facilities. They also attempted but failed to persuade the legislators to protect their mineral royalty interests.

They were concerned about (a) loss of production payments and (b) setbacks.

Our law firm can help. We four (Paul Neilan, Bradley Block, Bill Bontrager, and Fintan Dooley) are committed to solving problems on these and related issues. While we may not know all of the "loss of production payment" situations which your North Dakota surface and mineral owners have experienced, we are experienced in many, and for that reason are confident that we are positioned to advise you on the following and related matters

  • failure to pay an owner because of title issues or mere neglect to notify;
  • improper computation of decimal interest resulting in underpayment;
  • under-reporting of production vis-a-vis non-reporting to the NDIC;
  • failure to report and pay for a produced hydrocarbon, especially drip gas aka LNG or ultra-light Bakken fluids;
  • flaring of gas; and,
  • loss through well-head leakage, pipeline leakage.

Our position on the issue of set-back issue is that no statute, or regulation of the NDIC concerning set-backs, can negate the clear message of Article I, Section 16 of the North Dakota Constitution. Our Constitution goes much further in the direction of protecting private property from damage or taking than does United States Constitution's Fifth and 14th Amendments. The North Dakota Constitution protects private property from any damage or taking. The language in our North Dakota Constitution is clear.

For these reasons are position is that citizens who look to the language of the North Dakota setback law or the legislative intent of the elected officials who are beholden to the North Dakota Petroleum Council have made a great mistake. Our North Dakota Constitution protects your private property. With the legislators have done is authorized to condemnation or taking your property. Do not be misled. You have a right to the value of your property that is been damaged, diminished or destroyed.

We will take your case; we will assert the North Dakota constitutional provision and prove your case based upon loss of view shed, light pollution, destruction of industrial noise, and air pollution. Damage to surface or subsurface estate, be it large or small is compensable under our Constitution

The North Dakota constitutional provision in relevant part reads as follows and as a preliminary we point out that the words "All or any" invites you as surface and mineral owners to adopt a comprehensive definition of damage to meaning what the Constitution says "any diminution of property value".

Read the following provisions thinking of taking or diminishing of your property by state action inherent in statutes or state agency issuances of permits to the oil industry.

North Dakota Constitution Article 1 Section 16 :

Section 16. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation ... paid ... the owner.... No right of way shall be appropriated to the use of any corporation until full compensation therefore be first made ... irrespective of any benefit from any improvement proposed... by such corporation. Compensation shall be ascertained by a jury, .... When the state ... or political subdivisions seeks to acquire right of way, it may take possession upon making an offer to purchase and by depositing the amount of such offer with the clerk of the district court...

For purposes of this section, a public use or a public purpose does not include public benefits of economic development, ...or general economic health. Private property shall not be taken for the use of, or ownership by, any private individual or entity, unless that property is necessary for conducting a common carrier or utility business.

Taking means the "State is taking for a public use or purpose". Taking may occur even though it is not called condemnation. In that event the law calls the citizens claim Inverse Condemnation.

The Dooley Law office takes on these cases expecting to shift the fees to the other side. In the law of eminent domain or its counterpart, inverse condemnation, a shifted fee basis means we obtain more money from the jury in damages than was deposited in court. If nothing was deposited and we went to victory is assured and attorney fees are taxed on the other side .

Be aware that documentation and employment of qualified experts will critical to success.

We consult with land owners and/or mineral owners, prepare and file litigation, or assist you in mediation offered by the North Dakota Agricultural Department. Often we can stiffen what was initially lacking in state enforcement of rules, statutes, and the North Dakota Constitution.

As part of any plaintiff cases we have two goals.

  1. Help to discover or develop the data, and seek to recover what has been lost.
    One example is a failure to report production of, and pay for, "drip gas", aka LNG. It even seems these failures to report may have been encouraged by Lynn Helms, who allegedly has instructed the Oil and Gas Division's field staff not to require reporting of these "ultra-light Bakken fluids" being produced.

    2. Gather and analyze mineral leases, statutes, royalty case law, and relevant provisions of the ND Constitution.

The attorneys at Dooley Law Office have the skills to help and background of case experiences to do so quickly. Call us today!