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      RS 30:20     


§20.  Illegal gas, etc., contraband; seizure and sale; procedure; disposition of proceeds

A.  In addition to other remedies and penalties, all illegal oil, illegal gas, or illegal products, shall, except under the circumstances stated herein, be contraband and shall be seized and sold, and the proceeds applied as herein provided.  The sale shall not take place unless the court shall find, in the proceeding provided for in this Subsection, that the commodity is contraband.  Whenever the commissioner believes that illegal oil, illegal gas, or illegal product is subject to seizure and sale, he shall, through the attorney general, bring a civil action in rem in the district court of the parish where the commodity is found.  Or the action may be maintained in connection with any suit or reconventional demand for injunction or for penalty relating to any prohibited transaction involving the illegal oil, illegal gas, or illegal product.  Any person in interest who shows himself to be adversely affected by the seizure and sale shall have the right to intervene in the suit to protect his rights.

B.  The action referred to in Subsection A shall be strictly in rem and shall proceed in the name of the state as plaintiff against the illegal oil, illegal gas, or illegal product described in the petition, as defendant, and no bond shall be required of the plaintiff in connection therewith.  Upon the filing of the petition, the clerk of the court shall issue a citation with a copy of the petition attached directed to the sheriff of the parish, or to any other officer or person the court authorizes to serve process.  He shall cite all persons, without undertaking to name them, who may be interested to appear and answer within fifteen days after the issuance and service of the petition and citation.  Service shall be made by posting a copy of the petition and citation upon the courthouse door of the parish where the commodity involved is alleged to be located and by posting another copy near the place where the commodity is alleged to be located.  The posting of the petition and citation shall constitute constructive possession of the commodity by the state.  Proof of service of citation, and the manner thereof, shall be made as is required by law.

C.  Where it appears by a verified pleading on the part of the plaintiff, by affidavit, or by oral testimony, that grounds for the seizure and sale exist, the court shall issue an order of seizure.  This order shall specifically describe the alleged contraband so that it may be identified with reasonable certainty.  The order shall direct the sheriff to whom it is addressed to take into his custody, actual or constructive, the commodity described and to hold it subject to the orders of the court.  The sheriff shall be responsible upon his official bond for proper execution of the order.

D.  The court may direct the sheriff to deliver the custody of any contraband seized by him to a sequestrator who shall act as the agent of the court and shall give bond with surety as the court directs conditioned that he will faithfully conserve the contraband which comes into his custody and possession in accordance with the orders of the court.  The court may appoint an agent of the commissioner as sequestrator.

E.  Any person testing the validity of a seizure or sequestration, may obtain the release of oil, gas or other products upon furnishing bond issued by a corporate surety company qualified to do business in the state in an amount exceeding by one-half the current market value of the oil, gas, or other product under seizure or sequestration.  The bond shall be in favor of the sheriff and shall be conditioned upon and shall remain in full force and effect until final determination of the validity of the seizure or sequestration.

F.  Sales of contraband seized under the authority of this Chapter, and notices of these sales, shall be in accordance with the laws of this state relating to the sale and disposition of property seized under a writ of fieri facias.

G.  The court may order that the commodity be sold in specified lots or portions, and at stated intervals, instead of being sold at one time.  Title to the amount sold shall pass as of the date of that act which is found by the court to make the commodity contraband.  The amount sold shall be treated as legal oil, legal gas, or legal product in the hands of the purchaser, but the purchaser and the commodity shall be subject to all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and orders with respect to the transportation, refining, processing, or handling in any other way, of the commodity purchased.

H.  The proceeds of the sale of contraband shall be applied first to the payment of the cost of the action and the expenses incident to the sale after these expenses have been approved and allowed by the court.  All funds then remaining shall be paid to the department of conservation for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Chapter.

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