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Alligator invasion: Couple takes on Exxon over population problem

Alligator invasion in Mississippi?
Alligator invasion in Mississippi?
Commons Wikimedia

An alligator invasion is what is behind the Mississippi Supreme Court hearing arguments between a couple from Wilkinson County and ExxonMobil Corp.

NewsMax reported Feb. 5 that Tom and Consandra Christmas acquired 35 acres of land next to ExxonMobil back in 2003 and learned of the alligators four years ago. The couple charge in the lawsuit that the alligator invasion is a "non-abatable nuisance that has caused a permanent injury to their property and are seeking damages for permanent depreciation of their land," according to the AP report cited by NewsMax.

ExxonMobil fired back that the couple were told by their real estate agent about the alligators around 2003 and and the Christmases "waited too long to file a lawsuit, stating their claim has passed the statute of limitations."

This is the statement that the Christmases filed to the Mississippi Court of Appeals:

"Alligators were allegedly introduced to the Exxon property prior to 1984, and the retention ponds have apparently existed at least that long. It was also attested that by the year 2000 (at the latest), there were 'many, many alligators' on the Exxon property, and a real estate agent involved in the sale of the property to the Christmases stated that an alligator may have attacked a horse he kept on the Christmas property."

ExxonMobil claims that due to the alligators being a protected species of reptile, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will not allow them to do anything about the population.

The department mentioned in a brief that it can exercise authority to rule only in the event that the alligator is a nuisance. In the instance of this alligator invasion story, it seems fitting. However, if the Christmases were forewarned of the reptile population, it was already something that existed.

ExxonMobil charges that it cannot be held responsible for alligators that wander onto their neighbor's land.

What will the outcome of this alligator invasion be and does it sound like Exxon is liable?