The trial involving Energy Transfer Partners, Enterprise Products and Enbridge is not surprisingly receiving close scrutiny.  ETP claims that Enterprise ended its partnership concerning a pipeline project to pursue a relationship with Enbridge instead.

ETP claims that it legally formed a partnership with Enterprise in 2011 to create a pipeline that would transport oil into Texas.  Enterprise and Enbridge claim no such arrangement ever existed.

Though the litigation is about the possible creation of a business concern, the parties appeared to take this matter very personally.  The attorney for ETP claims his client was a victim of cheating.  “”They kicked us out like we were dogs,” he told the jury.

On the other hand, the attorney for Enterprise stated there was no exclusivity concerning the pipeline and that ETP was “trying to create a partnership through ambush.”  And the Enbridge lawyer stated: “It’s not a marriage.  They will never love each other.”  The parties are sifting through evidence to demonstrate whether there was a joint venture between ETP and Enterprise.

What is significant is the amount of damages claimed.  ETP’s attorney stated his client lost between $594 million and $1.3 billion.  This attorney was also seeking punitive damages.  The Enterprise lawyer countered that ETP only had $35,000 in out-of-pocket expenses while Enterprise had spent $1.7 million.

There is much more to these business dispute claims than this and that’s why experienced business attorneys need to be involved.  These disputes revolve around definitions of what a partnership or joint venture could be, contract language and possible loss of business opportunity.  In any case, the amount at stake in such disputes means these matters need to be handled professionally.

Source: Dallas News, “Billion-dollar pipeline trial taking shape as a nasty divorce case,” Mark Curriden, Feb. 2, 2014