In this episode of Magnum J.D., Bull Durham sells his machines to BP and creates a conflict of interest for Magnum's firm Gauthier Houghtaling and Williams

Magnum J.D.

Folks our blogging on John Houghtaling, aka Magnum J.D. and his association with Kevin Costner has been pure gold for us and literally opened the floodgates for information as my inbox has received quite the workout on the subject of lil’ ol Magnum and more. Let’s begin with Val Bracy at Fox 8 who explores the inherent conflict of interest involving a law firm which is copiously advertising for oil spill clients to sue BP while the managing partner of the same firm is selling BP Costner’s Oil-Water separating machines:

Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Rasapnti says the situation is unusual.

“He has a business relationship with BP and he needs to disclose that to any prospective client to let them know ‘I’m doing business with these folks even though I’m suing them on your behalf,'” said Raspanti.

I can imagine Magnum’s partners aren’t very happy about all this, especially since it very well may take money out of their pockets due to lost spill business while Magnum cashes in with Costner:

Houghtaling has taken a leave of absence.

It’s not clear whether he will be paid during the leave.

Law firm partners typically make money from every case the firm handles.

Indeed they do and that would include DA Paul Connick but that is another post. I for one am gratified to see one local media outlet get this story right instead of being blinded by Costner’s star power as have the national outlets and unfortunately more than one local pundit. You go Val!

Speaking of being blinded, investing $20 million dollars in technology 17 years ago which never paid off certainly has blinded Costner to the person he jumped in bed with. Turns out Magnum was planning a multi-pronged PR offensive against BP while he was trying to make them to buy Costner’s machine and predictably he is accused of screwing his partners in very short order as I introduce the Slabbed Nation to the case of Levy v The Will to Drill, LLC, John Houghtalng et al filed in the 24th Judicial District in Jefferson Parish.

The case involves the formation of a LLC to make a movie about the spill, no doubt to help drive spill related litigation business over to Houghtaling’s firm. At issue are financial guarantees Houghtaling made his prospective partners in writing that he then refused to honor.  As is Houghtaling’s wont, at the first sign of trouble he threatens to sue Levy, “dragging his ass before a CDC judge and jury”. In response Levy sued to get his money back, such suit I’ve embedded for the consideration of the Slabbed Nation courtesy of Scribd:

[scribd id=33183523 key=key-62uocudn9tv34pawcpy mode=list]

We have more coming on Mr Houghtaling and his firm as we finally introduce legendary trial lawyer Wendell Gauthier’s once storied firm to the Jefferson Parish corruption woodpile.


30 thoughts on “In this episode of Magnum J.D., Bull Durham sells his machines to BP and creates a conflict of interest for Magnum's firm Gauthier Houghtaling and Williams”

  1. Nice post! How can you not recognize this as an ethical conflict? You cannot represent clients suing BP without disclosing that you are in bed with them too. Mr. Plattsmier, where are you? I am just amazed (and angry).

  2. Iaamangry : Conflict? Ethics? Surely you jest? Re: Plattsmeier…let me offer the following info to him since no one in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel appears capable of locating their laws re Conflicts: See Article XVI. Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7 & 1.8.

  3. You asked, so I’ll tell you. Just before Pelican left DC yesterday, he said he saw Platzmier sitting alone in the Congressional Hearing Room where the impeachment proceedings of Porteous were held; home of the infamous testimony of lawyers such as MR. “I have no recollection one way or the other” CLINE, and MR. “that is absolutly forbidden by the Cannons of Ethics” MOLE.

    deBrief said Platzmier had his head up his ass, moaning something like, “shit or shinola, shit or shinola…..”. Pelican asked him what the hell was he doing there in such a voluntary debilitating
    position. Platzmier slowly pulled his head out his ass and replied “I’m thinking”. With that cue, Pelican, as he turned to leave, replied, “oh, is that what you call it ?”

    deBrief mumbles to himself… qu’est- ce que la baise est-il parler…no wonder the Louisiana Bar is held in such low esteem; they’ve got an asshole who heads the displinary committee who can’t tell the difference between shit and shinola !

    There, you have it; and now you know where Platzmier is…

    1. A reader wanted to make make sure I was clear that Houghtaling’s use of the term CDC referrs to the Civil District Court in NOLA where his partner James Williams is an ad hoc judge. I’m told he routinely passes that threat even when the courts in NOLA clearly do not have jurisdiction as was the case with Levy. Houghtaling has most likely never picked a jury or given an opening argument but he has bought alot of friends through time.


  4. Yes and the opposeing party gets to appeal improper venue to the fourth curcuit which means the only hope for that motion is the top state court. Want to know why cases go on for ever

  5. What is “Ocean Therapy Solutions” shown there at the bottom of each page of the Petition?

    Well now:

    Charter Number: 40202881 K
    Registration Date: 5/10/2010

    Registered Agent(s)
    Address 1: ONE GALELRIA BLVD., SUITE 1100
    City, State, Zip: METAIRIE, LA 70001
    Appointment Date: 5/10/2010

    Officer(s) Additional Officers: Yes
    Title: Member
    Address 1: 201 ST. CHARLES AVENUE, 45TH FLOOR
    City, State, Zip: NEW ORLEANS, LA 70130

    Title: Member
    Address 1: 50 PIERMONT AVENUE, SUITE L2
    City, State, Zip: NYACK, NY 10960

    Title: Member
    Address 1: 333 ROYAL STREET
    City, State, Zip: NEW ORLEANAS, LA 70130


    There’s the Chehardy firm again.

    Say, you know who used to love to play big time movie mogul? Aaron Broussard.


    Wow, look what turns up in old property transfers: “Muirfield Place 15. Carol Chetta Ellis and Michael H. Ellis to Marilyn Cutrone Contogouris and Spyro Contogouris , $615,000.” From the 9/28/02 TP.

    Muirfield Place is in English Turn.

    Mr. Ellis is of course Broussard’s attorney and is of course at the Chehardy law firm too.

    Annnd it looks like someone has already started following some similar strings…. nationally:

    Uhhhhmmmm, so ***who brought this Costner concept to the JP Council again???

    As for Spryo Contogouris, wow. Wow.

    >>>At the heart of this story is a freelance research analyst named Spyro Contogouris, whose previous

  6. I can’t believe you guys haven’t connected the dots yet. John & Jason’s law firm is formally associated with the Chehardy, Ellis firm. This isn’t speculation. If one has a conflict on a legal matter then both have a legal conflict. The Gautier Houghtaling firm was set up after Wendell’s death to continue the Jefferson Parish legacy.

  7. Gauthier is dead…why is it so important to ” Haughty” Haughtaling to keep the Gauthier banner flying … he couldn’t lick, shine or wear Wendell’s boots, that’s why ! … Haughty, you can’t buy balls backed up with ambition and ability … coupled with the raw drive to make a lot of money … that doesn’t come from Daddy’s pocket.

    Yea, right, Haughtaling … you put people in fear by your bully threats… enfin, celles qui aiment se faire bouffer les rotules.

    This is going to be a lot of fun as the Magnum J.D. series continues…

  8. Yes Iggy they are all snakes. And yes Gauthier and Murphy A Law Firm began in Kenner on Florida Avenue back in the late 70’s with Aaron Broussard . The building also housed Sam Schudmak Esq and Stoulig and Buckley, CPAs. Schudmak eventually went into practice with Charles ‘Chuck’ Cusimano whom Aaron B recently appointed Hearing Officer in J P for Code cases. Cusimano had retired from 24th JDC, got elected to Justice of the Peace for the 5th District and continues to suck money from tax dollars. Robert Murphy got elected to 24th JDC and his wife is being investigated along with Bryan Wagner in the Redflex ( red light cameras) matter. Yawn, time to get outside and enjoy life. Later.

  9. Oh p s : Stoulig went to jail, Buckley sold company to Phil Rebowe. Rebowe has JP work. Surprise, surprise , surprise.

  10. Don’t know where AB is now. This one was in first few blocks of Florida closest to the Interstate. D’Aquila Volk et al is at other end of Florida closer to Lake.

  11. And for anyone wanting to know more past history of the formulative Gauthier years, well he and Murphy had an office at the corner of Palmyra and South Jefferson Davis on the lake side, NW corner during the early to mid-seventies. Seems like the Rebel Yell hasn’t killed the few memory cells I have left, and that the good news. The bad news is that wanabe- and never-will-be Gauthier, “Haughty” Haughtaling, is in the present.

  12. Sorry, forgot. Again for you JP legal history buffs, Aaron’s office, similar to the time Gauthier was on So. Jeff Davis, was where his father’s office was, a block upriver from the corner of Williams and River Road on the levee side in Old Kenner.

    Wow, the previous comments have shaken my memory into state of nostalgia.

  13. Telemachus: Whatever happened to Wilson Lagraize? Anyone heard from his CPA firm lately? Isn’t he tight with Lawrence Chehardy? Didn’t old man Chehardy raise Lagraize or something?

  14. Fellas, ya’ll are missing the silver lining to this dark cloud. Since Costner has now sold 32 of his machines to BP, Don Johnson will now be forced to create a rival machine and clean up the gulf.

  15. Unslabbed: “Cusimano had retired from 24th JDC, got elected to Justice of the Peace for the 5th District and continues to suck money from tax dollars.”

    Hm, Mortilaro gets a job at JP, and Cusimano takes his JOP spot.

    So, that’s what Mortilaro was doing at JP, i.e. nothing but enjoying a payoff to allow Cusimano to take his job???

  16. Wilson Lagraize:

    Not sure about his childhood, but he was auditor/accountant for WJMC, was deputy assessor for Chehardy, and was in several business with him.

    He did the audit on the WJMC “dirty” linen deal, per the 8/1/07 TP.

    It also looks like they had the JP auditing contract:

    “When Jefferson Parish opened its auditing contract to competition last fall for the first time in eight years, taxpayers seemed poised to save a bundle. Four of the six responding companies offered to take the job for less than the parish had been paying, the cheapest being 40 percent lower, and an administrative evaluation committee deemed all six qualified.

    But the Parish Council ultimately picked two of the same companies that have shared the audit contract for more than a decade, Rebowe & Co. and Kushner LaGraize, even though they submitted the highest and the third-highest prices and both had been under scrutiny by regulators in recent years. Four months later, the council added a third auditor, Vincent Protti, who had not even submitted a proposal.

    In picking these three auditors, the council bypassed Postlethwaite and Netterville, which submitted the best price, boasts more than 30 large government clients statewide and is the only Louisiana CPA firm ranked among the 100 largest in the United States.

    Postlethwaite and Netterville stands out for another reason. It was the only company of the six responding to Jefferson

  17. Telemachus, commet puis-je vous remercier d’etre un ami, je n’ai jamais recontre…

    So, are we talking about the Sheriff laundering Davy’s dirty diapers, or laundering dirty dealing for his company, Associated Hospital Services Inc. ?

    This Sheriff is slick… oil slick ! (he learned from the master, Lee). He and Nungesser have an off-shore catering gig, then there’s Nungesser’s marina, and no telling what deals mini-me Roberts has negotiated for them and their cronies with boats and dredging and mexican rakers on the beach etc., etc. No matter what the rumors are, I don’t believe they had anything to do with the oil spill, no matter how slick they are. But we all know that reliable rumors always turn out to true, but too late to alter the course of events. However, I do believe that the berm idea is their faux pas, a brash canard, that can best be critiqued as, well, STUPID !

    I don’t know Telemachus… bruler au bucher me semble un peu dur… who’s first ?

  18. Do any of you contributing authors really know John H.?
    Have any of you worked with him? How about worked for him? Have any of you done philanthropic work with him?

    If you did, you might paint a much different picture…
    That is, unless you graduated at the bottom of your law school class, didn’t have the dedication to pass the bar on the first try, couldn’t find job after graduation because you were a jack off during school, struggle(d) to make sure you can pay your electricity bill so you wouldn’t sweat your ass off & have to go into court looking like a disheveled sloth…

    John is a great guy… and one who seeks to put 100% effort toward everything he does. He began working for Mr. Gauthier at a young age, and was mentored by him- a man who truly cared about people & whom was loved by all who knew him. John is highly intelligent and very successful, and further, he is an easy going guy who actually listens to what people have to say. He conducts himself in accordance with the decorum, dignity, respect, and honor with which he was raised. He stands his own ground rather than succumb to the bullshit others try to impose upon him, and further, doesn’t lower himself to the standard of so many lawyers in this city…
    Who, instead of focusing on their own potential and challenging themselves, seek to diminish another’s good fortune or accomplishments- because, after all, “If I point my finger at you, nobody’s looking at me.”
    We all know this type… the perfect image of “that kid”- who always was picked on in elementary & high school because s/he never fit in & found him/herself in law school so that s/he could, just maybe, finally, “be somebody”…who never got over it and is still determined to “get that [bully]” or “show him!!!”

    Or were just “that damn close” to making the Top Lawyers in New Orleans list AGAIN!!!

    I have a suggestion… find a nice lady or man with “LCSW” or “BCSW” or “PhD” behind his or her name & make a series of appointments with his/her couch. It will make you feel MUCH better than blogging about what John Houghtaling has going for him.

    Seriously…the jealousy, bitterness, grief, sadness, anger, or whatever else you may call it, only hurts you…not Mr. Houghtaling, Mr. Gauthier, Judge Cusimano, or anybody else…

    1. Thanks for reminding me I have more material in stock on Magnum. Some of the emails I’ve gotten from those close to the hive are priceless.

      Stay tuned and thanks for commenting with us Mr Milanesq.


  19. Ou diable venez-vous ?

    Your defense of Mr.Houghtaling sounds like you read the Real Estate section of the Times-Picyournose, that included a picture of a mansion at 4714 St. Charles that Mr. Houghtaling purchased for $5,400,000 Million dollars and you apparently have crawled up his ass and have applied to be the ‘head’ butler. Well great, good or whatever…

    However having been personal friends with Gauthier beginning some time in 1976, till the time of his death, I can tell you this rich-boy punk Haughtaling couldn’t shine his shoes. Period !

    And as to Chuck Cusimano whom I’ve known since the first days he clerked for Judge Louis DeSonnier in the late 70’s, well apparently you don’t know him as I do.

    And I have a suggestion…why don’t you go lay on a couch with “Haughty” and work ya’ll’s problems out. I’ m sure he can afford to pay…

    Qu’est-ce qui te prend? Vous pensez que nous sommes assui stupides que vous etes ?

    It’s about time for another Rebel Yell, auvoir…

  20. I have been practicing for about 25 years all over Louisiana. Wendell Gauthier, with whom I never had a case, was reputed to be a great trial lawyer; there was no question about that, and he tried cases; I had the fortune to observe one of his trials before he passed.

    John Houghtaling, on the other hand, I have never seen in court, had a case with or heard anyone say anything flattering about. He simply had the good fortune to be where he was when Wendell passed, then basically “took over the firm” relegating Wendell’s daughter to a nominal partner.

    Yes, he brags about his multi-million dollar settlements, which I guess is great for him and his firm. But, I became a lawyer to try cases, not settle them. I would love to see him in a courtroom!

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