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The Little Realty Co. LLC v. PVR UTICA GAS Gathering, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 25, 2018

THE LITTLE REALTY COMPANY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PVR UTICA GAS GATHERING, LLC, ET AL., Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER

          ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Dismissal of Defendant Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Company. To date, no parties have indicated opposition to this Motion. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED. All claims against Defendant Sheehan are DISMISSED and Defendant Sheehan is hereby TERMINATED as a party.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         On or about December 11, 2013, Plaintiff granted an easement on the premises to Defendant PVR Utica Gas Gathering (“PVR”) for the purposes of installing one or more below-ground gas pipelines. (EFC No. 2 at ¶ 12). On or about April 13, 2015, Plaintiff and Defendant Ohio River System entered into a Surface Use Agreement by which Plaintiff granted Defendant Ohio River System additional temporary workspace on the surface of the Premises. (Id. at ¶ 14). On or about July 9, 2015, Plaintiff and Defendant Regency Utica Gas Gathering (“Regency”) and/or Defendant Ohio River System entered into an Amendment and Ratification of Surface Use Agreement in order to amend the area subject to the Surface Use Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 15). During the construction of the natural gas pipeline, the Defendants, individually or collectively, caused or failed to prevent the excavated soil from sliding down a slope to the east of the Premises, resulting in the excavated soil covering undisturbed soil outside of the Premises subject to the initial easement. (Id. at ¶¶ 19, 21). Plaintiff sought compensatory damages attributable to breach of contract, attorney's fees and costs incurred, and all other just and proper relief from Defendants, PVR, Regency, and Ohio River System. (Id. at ¶ 31).

         Plaintiff also sought relief from Defendant Sheehan Pipe Line Construction Company (“Sheehan”), including damages suffered due to Sheehan's negligence, costs and attorney's fees, and other just and proper relief. (Id. at ¶ 35). According to Plaintiff, Defendant Sheehan owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to design, construct, and install the natural gas pipeline on the Premises properly and restore and grade Plaintiff's Premises to its condition prior to the aforementioned displacement of soil. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Sheehan failed to do so properly and thus breached its duty to Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 33, 34).

         On April 15, 2016, Sheehan filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. (EFC No. 14 at ¶ 3). On December 30, 2016, the Sheehan Pipe Line Liquidating Trust (“the Trust”) became the successor to Sheehan, with all of Sheehan's assets transferred to the Trust. (Id. at ¶ 6). On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff and the Trust entered into a Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release, whereby Plaintiff settled its claims against Sheehan, only, and reserved the right to proceed against all other Defendants (Regency, PVR, and Ohio River System) (“Regency Defendants”). (Id. at ¶ 7).

         On December 20, 2017, Counsel for the Plaintiff contacted Counsel for the Regency Defendants to determine whether Regency Defendants were opposed to the relief requested in this Motion. Plaintiff's Counsel has yet to receive a response from the Regency Defendants' Counsel. (Id. at ¶ 8).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21 allows the court “[o]n motion or on its own” to “add or drop a party” “at any time, on just terms.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. See also Philip Carey Mfg. Co. v. Taylor, 286 F.2d 782, 785 (6th Cir. 1961) (“We think that [Rule 21] is the [rule] under which any action to eliminate . . . a party should be taken.”). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1) provides, in relevant part, that a person or entity must be joined as a party if:

(A) In that person's absence, the court cannot afford complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) That person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may:
(i) As a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or
  1. Leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the ...


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