Tort Law

Damage Claims Make Oyster Leases Lucrative

Some oystermen are hauling in big bucks—not from oysters but from oil companies—with or without threat of lawsuits.

A study by two Louisiana State University economists has found that oystermen can make more money from damage settlements than from their trade, the New York Times reports.

Louisiana grants offshore oyster leases for $2 an acre “in virtual perpetuity,” the article says. When oil companies interfere with lease rights—or even plan to do so—oystermen make a claim for damages. The companies often quickly pay up.

Money from the oil companies “appears to flow to leases irrespective of their ability to produce marketable oysters,” professors Walter R. Keithly Jr. and Richard F. Kazmierczak conclude.

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