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Legal Issues

Iowa landowners file lawsuit against Iowa Utilities Board - July 27, 2015

Press conference regarding Iowa Utilities Board and eminent domain lawsuit scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, at the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa.


On Monday, July 27, Bill Hanigan of the Davis Brown Law Firm and Richard A. Cook of Herrick, Ary, Cook, Cook, Cook, & Cook filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Iowa landowners against the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB).


The lawsuit regards the Texas-owned company, Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66, and their planned use of eminent domain to forcibly access Iowa landowners’ property for the 1,134-mile Bakken oil pipeline. The underground pipeline would carry 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois to a crude oil hub near Patoka, Illinois.


Last summer, Dakota Access contacted Iowa landowners with property in the path of the proposed pipeline, including the plaintiffs Brent Jesse, Verdell Johnson, and Richard Lamb. They requested meetings to take soil samples and/or to survey the property.


Dakota Access officially submitted their proposed pipeline project to the IUB last fall. The IUB determines whether Dakota Access can use eminent domain for their pipeline. If the IUB approves the project, Dakota Access will be able to use eminent domain and forcibly access Iowa landowners’ property for the pipeline.


Davis Brown is arguing on behalf of Jesse, Johnson, and Lamb that the IUB does not have the authority to grant eminent domain rights to an interstate crude oil pipeline company.


"Out of state companies shouldn't be allowed to use Iowa law to take farmland from Iowans and install a hazardous pipeline and then not be subject to our laws about safety," Hanigan said.


"Our clients are rightfully upset. This is their land," Cook said, "And a Texas company just gets to come here and take it? That is not what the legislature had in mind."


The proposed pipeline would affect 18 Iowa counties as well as hundreds of Iowa landowners, including the wife of Verdell Johnson, who owns a farm in Cherokee county. “We’re past time to redefine eminent domain. This has gotten out of hand,” said. Mr. Johnson.


Press Conference Details:

When: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.

Where: Davis Brown Law Firm, 215 10th Street, Des Moines, IA; proceed to the 13th floor


  • Richard A. Cook, Herrick, Ary, Cook, Cook, Cook, & Cook
  • Bill Hanigan, Davis Brown Law Firm
  • Verdell Johnson, plaintiff
  • Richard Lamb, plaintiff
  • John Murray, Private Property Rights Coalition
  • Keith Puntenney, Private Property Rights Coalition

About the Cook Law Firm

Herrick, Ary, Cook, Cook, Cook, & Cook was established in 1869 in Cherokee, Iowa. The firm practices primarily in the areas of estate planning and probate, civil litigation, income tax, banking and commercial law, real estate, and general practice matters, regularly assisting clients with agricultural issues.