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Global Geophysical Services, Inc. v. Kuster

United States District Court, D. North Dakota, Northwestern Division

February 11, 2015

Global Geophysical Services, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Louis M. Kuster, Defendant.

AMENDED ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

DANIEL L. HOVLAND, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Plaintiff's "Motion to Amend/Correct Order on Motion for TRO" filed on February 10, 2015. See Docket No. 14. On February 10, 2015, the Court issued a temporary restraining order pursuant to Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Shortly after the Court issued its temporary restraining order, the Plaintiff, Global Geophysical Services, Inc., filed an amended complaint correcting the caption and the name of the Defendant landowner. The Plaintiff seeks an amended the temporary restraining order reflecting these changes and which prohibits the Defendant from interfering with the Plaintiff's geophysical exploration activities on certain real property the Defendant owns in Mountrail County, North Dakota. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Plaintiff's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

The Plaintiff, Global Geophysical Services, Inc. ("Global"), is a Delaware corporation organized under the laws of the State of Delaware with its principal place of business located in Missouri City, Texas. Global is engaged in the business of conducting geophysical exploration operations throughout North Dakota and elsewhere. Global is authorized to do business as a foreign corporation in the State of North Dakota.

The Defendant, Louis M. Kuster ("Kuster"), is a resident of the State of North Dakota and the surface estate owner of certain real property ("Subject Property") in Mountrail County, North Dakota, described as follows:

Kuster does not own any mineral rights in the Subject Property.

Global alleges it was retained by EOG Resources, Inc. ("EOG") to conduct geophysical operations on an area approximately 174 square miles in size located in Burke and Mountrail Counties, North Dakota, referred to as the "Sidonia 3D Project." The Subject Property is located within the Sidonia 3D Project. EOG, along with other individuals, hold an interest in the oil and gas leasehold estate granting them the right to conduct geophysical exploration operations on the Subject Property. EOG and others holding interests in and to the oil and gas leasehold estates have entered into an agreement with Global for geophysical operations to be conducted on the Subject Property. Global commenced geophysical operations on the Sidonia 3D Project on December 8, 2014. Global has already conducted geophysical operations on approximately 83, 200 acres, or 130 square miles, of the Sidonia 3D Project. The purpose of geophysical exploration is to gather data from below the surface of the earth so the same can be processed and analyzed for use in oil and gas exploration activities. Global has obtained a "geophysical exploration permit" from the North Dakota Industrial Commission to conduct geophysical exploration on the Subject Property. See Docket No. 8-1.

By letter dated December 17, 2014, Global gave notice to Kuster that it would be commencing geophysical exploration activities on the Subject Property. See Docket No. 8-2. The notice contained an offer of $4, 955.70 as compensation to the Kusters for the use of the Subject Property. Kuster did not respond to the notice.

On or about January 7, 2015, the Subject Property was surveyed, flagged, and receivers put in place for geophysical exploration. Global contends that on February 4, 2015, a Global crew attempting to enter the Subject Property encountered an individual who identified himself as the landowner and instructed the Global crew to vacate the property. See Docket No. 8. Global further contends that between February 5, 2015 and February 9, 2015, Kuster physically removed receivers from the Subject Property necessary for the geophysical operations to occur. See Docket No. 9.

Global filed a complaint in this Court on February 6, 2015. See Docket No. 1. The complaint makes claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. Global filed a motion for a temporary restraining order along with its complaint. See Docket No. 3. Global seeks to restrain and enjoin Kuster from interfering with Global's geophysical exploration activities on the Subject Property until further order of the Court. Despite difficulties in serving Kuster with the original Notice of Geophysical Operations, Global is attempting to give notice to Kuster of its intention to seek a temporary restraining order. See Docket No. 6.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Global seeks a temporary restraining order pursuant to Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides in relevant part as follows:

(b) Temporary Restraining Order.
(1) Issuing Without Notice. The court may issue a temporary restraining order without written or oral notice to the adverse party or its attorney only if:
(A) specific facts in an affidavit or a verified complaint clearly show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the ...

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