Energy prices have new pipeline construction increasing throughout the Southeast United States. Three new gas pipelines in Mississippi are in various stages of development, regulatory approval, and/or construction. Ozark Gas Transmission will cross the north part of the State, cutting through private property in Coahoma, Quitman, Panola, Lafayette and Calhoun Counties. A second company, Mid-Continent Express, has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] for approval of a pipeline through Central Mississippi. The third, Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP, is already in litigation taking right-of-way through Warren, Hinds, Copiah and Simpson counties.
Gas pipeline companies are private, for-profit companies. The government has granted them the power of eminent domain, that is, the power to take private property for the construction of pipelines over the objections of private landowners. Such “takings,” even for easement purposes, are subject to due process requirements of the Constitution, which entitles landowners to compensation and to protection of the courts.
SPMS&N partner Paul Scott, the only Mississippi lawyer recognized by Best Lawyers in America in the field of eminent domain, represents landowners throughout the State whose land is being crossed by the new pipelines. Scott says the pipeline easements have a much greater negative impact on property values than gas companies let on. “These pipelines adversely impact the entire tract of land,” says Scott.
Scott recently completed trials in two of the first new pipeline cases. In both cases juries returned verdicts for the full amounts requested by Scott and the SPMS&N landowner-clients. “We are very pleased with these verdicts,” said Paul Scott, the SPMS&N partner who represented both the Martins and the Eleys. “When given all the facts, jurors understand the negative impact a gas transmission pipeline can have on the value of a piece of property.”
Scott, managing partner of the Smith Phillips office in Hernando, is the only Mississippi member of Owners Counsel of America, the national organization of eminent domain and property rights litigation specialists committed to preservation of private land owners' rights. [click here for more information on Owners Counsel of America] For more information on Smith Phillips eminent domain and property rights litigation.
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