Braaten Law Firm filed the response brief in the North Dakota Supreme Court appeal of its successful case in the district court. On January 21, 2021, Bottineau County District Court Judge Anthony Benson ruled in favor of the Northwest Landowners Association, and had this to say about the law it struck down:
SB 2344 is an absolute bar to not just money damages, but all other remedies generally available to landowners; that it is an absolute bar or the functional equivalent of an absolute bar…. The provisions of SB 2344, both individually and taken together, prohibit landowners from obtaining any compensation for any oil and gas operators’ use of their pore space estate, whether reasonable or unreasonable, whether at large or small volumes, whether at a large financial detriment or small financial detriment. These provisions act as an absolute bar to not just money damages, but to all other meaningful remedies, including trespass, nuisance or other torts. The three provisions at issue here, enacted or amended within SB 2344, render pore space worthless in every instance of its application, and it is unconstitutional on its face.
The State has allied with Continental Resources, Inc., and the North Dakota Petroleum Council in an appeal to try to overturn the district court. These parties all filed briefs with the Supreme Court, and NWLA responded last Friday. The State and others will get one more brief, and the case will go to oral argument in the March term of the North Dakota Supreme Court. In its brief, NWLA pointed out that the United States Supreme Court has very recently voiced its agreement with landowners everywhere, when it said the following last July:
The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, provides: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The Founders recognized that the protection of private property is indispensable to the promotion of individual freedom. As John Adams tersely put it, “[p]roperty must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” Discourses on Davila, in 6 Works of John Adams 280 (C. Adams ed. 1851). This Court agrees, having noted that protection of property rights is “necessary to preserve freedom” and “empowers persons to shape and to plan their own destiny in a world where governments are always eager to do so for them.”
NWLA has stood tall on behalf of landowners throughout North Dakota and beyond. Braaten Law also stands beside the land and its stewards, and we always will.
The briefs to the North Dakota Supreme Court can be accessed and downloaded here.