Sibley was a lawyer in the old Castano Group, the Louisiana based trial lawyer syndicate led by the late Wendell Gauthier that handled some of the tobacco litigation back in the 1990s. Besides Gauthier, Calvin “Calhoun” Fayard was involved as was Fayard’s political operative/lawyer associate Hugh Sibley. Trout Point Lodge owner Danny Abel was also a part of that group, trying his best to inflict his boy Vaughn Perret on the rest. After Gauthier died, time has not been kind to many of the old Castano Group members as I illustrate today with Sibley:
So why do I bring up news Slabbed covered in 2009? Sweet serendipity that’s why. Sources familiar with the Sibley’s law practice indicate to Slabbed that while Sibley was Fayard’s political go to guy, Nipun “Nick” Desai was Sibley’s right hand man. Desai, a one time college exchange student from East India that graduated from LSU in 1996, reportedly parlayed the association with Sibley into a real estate empire that stretches across Louisiana and includes the now fabled Super 8 Motel on Clearview Parkway.
This is important because Desai is a bit of a mystery man. You see folks multiple sources have indicated to Slabbed that Desai Continue reading “Let’s start building the case: Allow me to reintroduce William “Hugh” Sibley to the Slabbed Nation”
To repeat part of the lead from Part 1, rarely am I presented with a topic that neatly ties in so many concepts previously presented on Slabbed, such as cognative bias. For purposes of this post cognative bias involving the media as we again visit with Matt Labash at the hard line GOP media resource The Weekly Standard. We profiled Matt’s 1998 profile of the Castano Group of trial lawyers that took down big tobacco before training their sites on the nation’s gun manufacturers in part 1, where I labeled Matt’s story a “hit piece” and it is true it was one and beyond my own opinion I’ll add I’m merely repeating Matt’s 2006 description of his first profile of Wendell Gauthier, Danny Abel et al thus the post title. In the interim and despite the earlier “hit piece” Matt ended up befriending Abel and using his NOLA area contacts to write a second story on the big easy for the Weekly Standard, this time post Katrina plus 6 months that I thought was simply excellent. Before we highlight some of that story’s high points we need to fill in a bit of the gap between the death of Gauthier and Hurricane Katrina for Trout Point Lodge/La Ferme D’Acadie owner Danny Abel and his boy toy sidekick Shane (D’Antoni) Gates and for that we need to highlight one of Abel’s true life literary adventures in OUTGUNNED: The First Complete Insider Account of the Battle Over Gun Control. Luckily for all of us Abel’s co-author Peter Brown has been kind enough to share his thoughts on the endeavor with the Slabbed Nation but before we delve into the lawsuit Abel and his boy toy Shane Gates recently filed against Mr Brown using the legal services of Aaron Broussard we must first visit with a 3rd party review of the book, which Brown claims was a complete flop:
Meanwhile, Outgunned, by journalist Peter Harry Brown and trial attorney Daniel G. Abel, is about what’s happening in the here and now. More specifically, the book is a sympathetic look at the efforts of a nationwide consortium of trial lawyers (including Abel) who called themselves the “Castano Group,” and who took on the gun industry in the late 1990s. Why are these lawyers particularly interesting? While it’s true that others had already tried to sue the gun industry (including in a well-publicized New York litigation), the Castano lawyers were different. In the world of the plaintiff’s bar, they were the A-Team. They had resources, connections, and experience–including the experience of winning a $346 billion settlement from the tobacco companies. They were also ambitious. Beginning in 1998, the Castano lawyers launched anti-gun suits in cities across the country–until more than 30 state and local governments were involved in litigation against the gun industry.
The Castano lawyers knew this would be extremely challenging litigation and were proven correct–most of it has floundered or failed. So why did they do it? Not for the cash, insist the authors, who point out that the gun Companies do not have the same deep pockets as Big tobacco and could never offer the same kind of rich settlement that the tobacco litigation yielded. But even if one accepts that the lawyers’ motives were largely pure (maybe they were, maybe they weren’t)–and, indeed, even if one discounts their failures in court–Outgunned is not a book that inspires great confidence in the potential of litigation to solve the nation’s most vexing policy issues.
It also is not a very reflective or analytic book. To be fair, Outgunned bills itself as an “insider account of the battle over gun control.” This is meant to be juicy stuff, not a policy tract. But without much critical argument to distract the reader, the book bogs down in a muck of appalling details about the Castano lawyers who are supposed to be our heroes–facts that the authors unabashedly trot out and never successfully excuse. The key players include well-connected Washington, D.C., lawyer John Coale–who is called “the clown prince of the legal world”–and Cincinnati’s Stanley Chesley, a.k.a. the “sultan of settlement.” But the lion’s share of the limelight is reserved for the book’s co-author Abel and his partner, Wendell Gauthier, with whom Abel bonded at the site of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. Ah yes, those were the days. “While an elephant chased Gauthier through the streets of India,” recall the authors, “Abel crept over terrain with thickets full of cobras to spy on the Union Carbide plant.” Continue reading “Laissez les bons temps rouler! Slabbed travels back in time with the girls and ties a few things together. A Trout Point Lodge / Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal Update Part 2.”
Rarely am I presented with a topic that neatly ties in so many legal concepts we’ve advocated here on Slabbed such as ordinary citizens losing their basic constitutional rights under the ruse of Tort Reform and as luck would have it, this area was used as the poster child for the need to strip ordinary citizens across this country of their constitutional rights so my sources on this topic can’t be better placed. The story includes all the finest corrupt trial lawyers from the now incarcerated Dick Scruggs to Calvin Fayard and beyond. It also includes a group of gay men we affectionately call the girls here on Slabbed that were affiliated with Wendell Gauthier. Luckily for me I don’t have to reinvent the wheel as two articles in the conservative publication the Weekly Standard well tells the story of the abuses that lead to a few men becoming obscenely wealthy while everyone else lost basic constitutional rights so lets hop in the wayback machine to 1998 and Matt Labash’s wide cited story Lawyers, Guns and Money:
Wendell Gauthier loves to smile. Sure, the most renowned class-action lawyer in New Orleans possesses many other trademarks. He has full-bodied Atticus Finch hair, and he’s tailored like a mogul from Milan. With a soft Cajun accent, he’s a fount of country-lawyer malapropisms (he says his old friend Edwin Edwards, the frequently indicted former governor of Louisiana, has a “photogenic mind”). But Gauthier’s defining characteristic is the infectious, perpetual, coprophagous grin. Indeed, an opposing lawyer once objected to a judge that Wendell Gauthier smiled too often. With his track record, who wouldn’t?
A veritable Zelig of mass-disaster litigation, Gauthier has twice ranked as one of the National Law Journal’s “100 Most Powerful Lawyers.” From the 1982 Pan Am plane crash to the 1980 MGM Grand hotel fire, from bone screws to breast implants, if it burns, leaks, seeps, or (praise God) explodes, chances are Gauthier is heading up the plaintiff’s committee, siphoning 25 percent to 35 percent contingency fees from the multi-million dollar jackpots relinquished by accident-prone companies waiting to get milked in class action lawsuits.
Matt nailed Gauthier’s career “hittin’ the walls” with every stroke of his jaded poison pen. Not mentioned though except here on Slabbed is that the Pan Am Crash was the launching pad for Gauthier’s subsequent mega legal successes as then Kenner Mayor Aaron Broussard greased the marketing skids for Gauthier giving him sole early access to the families of the victims. Continue reading “Actually Matt, you had this one called right to begin with. Slabbed travels back in time with the girls and ties a few things together. A Trout Point Lodge / Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal Update Part 1.”