LeBlanc v. Texas Brine Co., LLC, No. 20-30208 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
This diversity action brought by plaintiffs involves a dispute concerning a sinkhole that emerged near the decades-long salt-mining activities of one of the defendants. The district court approved the settlement and defendant appealed.
The Fifth Circuit concluded that the settlement agreement leaves plaintiffs with claims against Texas Brine for post-sinkhole damages, and it affects Texas Brine's ability to seek indemnification and contribution from the pre-2012 Insurers for those claims. The court explained that such a settlement is certainly proper if Texas Brine did not have any right to indemnification or contribution from the pre-2012 Insurers for post-sinkhole damages. The court applied Louisiana law and concluded that Texas Brine has failed to meet its burden to show that the post-sinkhole claims were covered under the 2011 Zurich policy. Therefore, Texas Brine has failed to show plain legal prejudice from the settlement agreement, and that it has a right to contribution or indemnification from the pre-2012 Insurers for the post-sinkhole claims. The court concluded that the settlement thus did not affect any such right and Texas Brine lacks standing as a non-party to object to the settlement. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal.