Texas trucking company must face lawsuit over pipeline damage

A two-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the 11th District in Odessa, Texas, ruled that Motley Capital LLC must face a $500,000 negligence lawsuit over alleged damage the company caused to a wastewater pipeline and manhole cover in 2018.

The panel ruled that Gulf Coast Authority (GCA) can proceed with its lawsuit against Motley Capital LLC and owner Marco Davis.

Motley Capital and Davis filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act (TCPA). The act allows a judge to dismiss a case to protect citizens from retaliatory lawsuits that seek to silence or intimidate them for exercising their free speech.

Motley and Davis contend that the damages pipeline operator GCA claimed against them are based on communications protected by TCPA.

“The GCA’s claims for negligence and for a violation of the Water Code are factually predicated on appellants’ conduct prior to Davis’s communications and not on the communications that appellants contend are protected by the TCPA,” Justice Keith Stretcher wrote for the panel.

Davis founded Motley Capital LLC in 2010. Davis also operated Motley Services Inc. in Odessa during 2018. Motley Services is an oilfield services provider in the Permian Basin region of West Texas and New Mexico. The company has a fleet of 19 trucks and 19 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In 1996, the city of Odessa entered into an agreement with the GCA for all easements held by the city, including an easement through Motley Capital and Davis’ property.

A wastewater pipeline is located through the easement on Davis’ property. The city granted a license to GCA for that easement to operate, maintain and repair the pipeline for the transportation of wastewater to the South Dixie Wastewater Treatment Plant.

On April 18, 2018, the pipeline was shut down because it was not receiving wastewater, according to court filings. It was determined that there was a blockage in the pipeline on Davis’ property.

GCA alleges that a manhole and the pipeline on the easement were damaged when heavy equipment was driven over it. According to GCA, one of the manholes on the easement was “severely crushed” and the pipeline was “crushed” and “catastrophically damaged.”

GCA alleges that it incurred costs of $263,093 to repair the pipeline and manhole and to clean up discharged wastewater, and that it suffered lost income of $210,400.

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