Oil and water don’t mix – and, apparently,federal and state Attorneys General feel likewise about having their claims overseen by the “big money pot in the little one” Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee appointed by Judge Barbier.
Rebecca Mowbray reports one chapter of the story in the Money section of today’s Times-Picayune:
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier told participants in the BP oil spill litigation Friday that he wasn’t trying to deny the state of Louisiana a voice in the proceedings when he rejected a motion for a special government track Thursday. He’s just trying to make the litigation more efficient, Barbier said…
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell…[a]Appearing at his first monthly oil spill status conference Friday morning, Caldwell said he wasn’t reassured by what Barbier said and is evaluating the state’s legal options.
“The state’s claims are still subject to the plaintiffs steering committee,” Caldwell said, noting that Barbier also didn’t rule on Louisiana’s request to bar private attorneys from sharing any proceeds ultimately due to the state. With Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator Kenneth Feinberg settling claims and removing plaintiffs from the litigation, the concern is that public recoveries could become the deepest pockets in the litigation, and that governmental bodies could be forced to share if they’re operating under the auspices of the plaintiffs committee.
Meanwhile, Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood wants Barbier to take control of the claims process: Continue reading “Bum steer – Barbier adds goverment liasions to Steering Committee but denies motion for special government track in oil spill litigation”
So much for my thinking the next item listed on the Rigsby qui tam docket would be one of the two remaining motions argued at the recent Status Hearing. State Farm filed its first Notice of Intervening Authority before the ink was dry on Judge Vance’s order dismissing the Branch qui tam case; and, when Judge Vance filed an Amended Judgment, State Farm filed a second Notice. (Notices in scribd format follow)
The Rigsbys legal team obviously differed with State Farm’s take on case and Friday they, too, filed a Notice of Intervening Authority citing the Branch decision (Notice in scribd format follows):
[T]he Rigsbys believe that the latest Branch decision again supports their motion to reconsider the scope of the current litigation. The Branch court’s ruling recognized that “a relator need not be an original source of the actual false claims made by the defendants to the government,” as long as the relator is “an original source of a certain core of information, such as the basic modus operandi of the fraud.” Thus, this most recent opinion reinforces the Branch court’s prior ruling, which held that original-source knowledge would have “entitle[d] [the Branch relator] to discovery on all the alleged instances of fraud in the loss-shifting scheme, even those outside the examples in the First Amended Complaint.”
State Farm incorrectly contends that the Branch decision suggests that the “threshold issue in this litigation” is the McIntosh claim rather than State Farm’s scheme to defraud the government. Continue reading “Double Vision – Rigsbys and State Farm each file Notices citing Branch as “Intervening Authority””