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Wrong Derrick Braaten?

Derrick Braaten


Baumstark Braaten Law Partners

HQ Phone:  (701) 221-2911


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I agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand that I will receive a subscription to ZoomInfo Community Edition at no charge in exchange for downloading and installing the ZoomInfo Contact Contributor utility which, among other features, involves sharing my business contacts as well as headers and signature blocks from emails that I receive.

Baumstark Braaten Law Partners

109 North 4Th Street Suite 100

Bismarck, North Dakota,58501

United States

Company Description

Baumstark Braaten Law Partners are a general civil practice law firm established January 1, 2005 by Sarah Vogel and Beth Angus Baumstark to provide the very highest levels of legal assistance to our clients, many of whom are farmers and ranchers.... more

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Web References(17 Total References)

Donna Abrahamson - Baumstark Braaten Law Partners, Bismarck, ND - Agricultural Law, Administrative Law, American Indian Law, Business Law, Commercial Real Estate, Employment Law, Environmental Law, Personal Injury, Property Law, Land Use, and Zoning, Fami [cached]

Derrick Braaten

North Dakota's Newest Big Bad Wolf - The Crude Life Media Network [cached]

"It appears to me that eminent domain is being used not the way it was intended but because you have private businesses using it," attorney Derrick Braaten said.
"The legal test for eminent domain is that it has to be for a public purpose in other words have a public benefit and public use." Braaten, a partner at Baumstark Braaten Law Partners in Bismarck, ND, has represented landowners who have been impacted by eminent domain. Braaten's concerns with eminent domain have increased substantially over the past decade as he has witnessed what he deems an abuse of the government-backed power. Braaten also has issue with the Western Area Water Supply Authority's behaviors with eminent domain, which he believes operates in a gray area and are blurring the lines with a public entity. "We have represented landowners who have been impacted by WAWSA (Western Area Water Supply Authority) and by pipeline development and that sort of development in general in respect to negotiating easements and eminent domain actions," Braaten said. Braaten continued saying WAWSA is a tricky situation that has created more questions and concerns because it has become a hybrid of public good and private enterprise "WAWS is deemed a government institution or government instrumentality, but it is not being run that way and it is being heavily subsidized," Braaten said. "You can still make an argument it is for the greater good, but that doesn't mean you should be using what I consider a pretty serious exercise of the state's power of using eminent domain to actually take land from people for the greater good," Braaten said. "That's a step beyond saying something is for the greater good when you are actually going to use the state's power to take property rights from people." This is where things get misunderstood, contested and linguistically manipulated. According to WAWSA, the entire project is for the public good, even the industrial sales that compete with private businesses. Braaten understands that getting potable water to citizens is a legitimate purpose, however, his concerns fall with the parsing of words and bullish behaviors under the blanket of eminent domain. "With WAWS I think it is a little bit different because the idea is more related to there being a public utility, so it is more along the lines of we allow the use of eminent domain to run power lines and things like that," Braaten said. "I take particular objection to the use of what they call 'quick take' eminent domain," Braaten said. "I don't think quick take eminent domain should exist, period, unless there is an absolute emergency like a flood or something like that. I think that is being overused and abused." Braaten said he is seeing more use of the quick take eminent domain in North Dakota, especially in regards to WAWSA. "It is such an easy, cheap process for WAWSA and others that creates this perverse incentive because it is easier than talking with the landowner," Braaten said. Braaten continues saying his issue with the process is that the landowner may not even know their land has been seized. "We have one landowner whose first notice that his land had been taken via eminent domain is when they showed up with the heavy equipment on his property," Braaten said. This landowner didn't even have a chance to negotiate before eminent domain occurred. These actions can take their toll as it creates an environment that forces a landowner to live in fear of having his property taken away. Braaten believes there are a myriad of choices before eminent domain is implemented. "I think they do have options. I think the options are to work with the land owners and negotiate," Braaten said. "I've had companies, for example, offering $40,000 for an easement, but then they go into eminent domain and their damage model is only $2,000," Braaten said. "The amounts being paid for a private easement are many times more than what people are actually getting in eminent domain proceedings. I see that as a serious issue. I think that if it wasn't so easy and cheap for companies to use eminent domain it wouldn't look so appealing to them." The ND legislative body recently denied SB 2047, which was designed to reign in the authority of water resource boards to exercise the power of "quick take" eminent domain. Braaten believes this bill is a good start in curtailing abuse with the power of eminent domain, but wishes the ND legislative body would have adopted an amendment to make it apply to WAWSA.. "It (SB 2047) was literally the exact law in Wyoming, which they've had on the books for ten years," Braaten said. "It provides some additional methodology beyond the traditional appraiser methodology for evaluating damages." According to Braaten, Wyoming's legislature clarified the property owner's rights and put some different checks and balances on eminent domain abuse. "Wyoming is light years ahead of us and I think it is primarily a cultural thing. The landowners in Wyoming got a lot angrier a lot faster about eminent domain abuse," Braaten said. Derrick Braaten

"It's like we brought an action in district court, and the district judge is acting like we are suing them, even though what we are really asking for is a decision," said Derrick Braaten, Peterson's attorney.
"They quite literally put themselves on the side of the oil companies," Braaten said. Independent testing has shown that high concentrations of contaminants remain in the soil, Peterson and Braaten said. "We have had some of our experts go out and they found significantly elevated levels of chlorides, which is an obvious indication that there is still saltwater contamination that exists in the area," Braaten said. Braaten, a lawyer with Baumstark Braaten Law Partners in Bismarck, said at this point, he is unsure how to proceed with the case. "It's weird because the complaint we actually brought was against these operators for spills and other violations," Braaten said. "What we were asking for was the Industrial Commission to look at this and determine whether they were in violation of statutes and regulations, and if they were, to enforce those statutes and regulations." Braaten said he sent out a letter stating that, to his understanding, the Industrial Commission was supposed to serve as the adjudicating body and not a party to the lawsuit. But Braaten said the attorneys for the state responded with: "No, we're a respondent. We're getting sued here. We're a party." Braaten said he disagreed with that fact. He said if Peterson actually wanted to sue the state, he could have done so under different legal standing, but they chose not to go down that path. "Quite frankly, as an attorney, I don't know what to do about that," Braaten said. "They have decided that they are a party, and that they are on the defense." Braaten said the oddest thing about the current circumstances is that the case will still be heard in front of the Industrial Commission, even though they are now a defendant in the case. "It's confusing to me because they are supposed to be the independent objective decision-maker, not the defendant," Braaten said. While the case will have to be heard in front of the Industrial Commission first, Braaten said Peterson had the right to appeal the case to a district court. The one benefit to the state becoming party to the case, Braaten said, is that more state officials are now open to deposition and the legal discovery process. While his law firm would have had access to Department of Health officials before, Braaten said the state's decision to become a quasi-defendant allows his law firm to collect evidence from the Oil and Gas Division, too. Braaten said it was never his intention to depose officials like Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, and Dave Glatt, the director of the Department of Health, but the circumstances have forced his hand.

"The ultimate goal is simply to require the operators to comply with North Dakota law, and the result of that is the mineral owners are paid royalties on flared gas," said Derrick Braaten with Baumstark Braaten Law Partners in Bismarck.
The value of natural gas may be insignificant compared to the value of the oil, but if companies are forced to meet their obligation to pay royalties on that flared gas, they will have an incentive to reduce the flaring, Braaten said.

For the 2013 legislative session, concerns of the NWLA will be voiced by Derrick Braaten, a partner in Baumstark Braaten Law Partners, Bismarck.
"Most of the testimony will come from the membership," Coons said, adding that NWLA members would also be coordinating efforts with Braaten to research and prepare information for legislators.

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