Keystone XL Pipeline landowners argue Transcanada should pay legal fees

Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News 

The Nebraska Supreme Court heard from Transcanada and landowners in a case that goes back to 2015.

When Transcanada tried to file for eminent domain for 71 landowners, those land owners lawyered up, costing 354 thousand dollars.

Then, because of legal issues including being denied eminent domain, Transcanada ended up dropping those cases, and filing an application with the public service commission instead.

Now, landowners are saying Transcanada needs to pay for the cases the company *voluntarily dismissed.

Jim powers, the lawyer for Transcanada had two arguments against this.

First, the landowners should provide live testimony instead of written affidavits, and that the law firm never provided evidence of a payment agreement including an hourly rate the lawyer would charge.

"It doesn’t define exactly what that agreement was at the outset. They say they may owe it, but what do they owe? What was the agreement when they started, what was the rate,” Jim Powers, Transcanada’s Lawyer said.

Dave Domina, the lawyer for the landowners says there never was an agreed upon hourly rate. But that’s not required by law, and the landowners understood they were to pay for the lawyer’s services.

He also said that using affidavits as evidence is the long–standing precedent in the Supreme Court.

"There’s an unbroken line of precedence in statehood that says that’s the correct way to do it, that’s how it was done here, I think the court will have no trouble with that,” Dave Domina, Lawyer for Landowners said.

The landowners who each have more than $8,000 to pay in a case Transcanada dismissed say they don’t have the extra money.

"We aren’t rich people. None of us are rich and we all have other obligations and we try to make a living and for us farming and ranching right now it’s difficult out there in rural America, rural Nebraska,” Art Tanderup, a landowner said.

Powers had no comment on how the proceedings went.

The Supreme Court will announce a decision in the coming months.

Transcanada and the landowners will be back in front of the Supreme Court later this year to figure out if Transcanada can move forward with the route the public service commission approved.