I’ll keep this short and sweet folks as time is scarce for me today but we’re getting some referrals from a Joe Nocera column in the New York Times today about Judge Barbier’s recent fee ruling in the Oil Spill MDL and that also allows me to link Becky Mowbray’s reporting for the Times Picayune on Buddy Caldwell’s appeal of Judge Barbier’s ruling, which we covered here in a post that has been very well received in the new media. For my part I’m still cataloguing various instances where lawyers sitting on the PSC that also represent other clients against BP outside the PSC are taking diametrically opposing positions on the fee arrangement in motions filed before Judge Barbier’s court. This in turn lends the whole affair a three ring circus like quality.
Nocera, as is his wont, takes the side of corporate america, namely BP, in his piece but misses the mark by leaving out the fact that BP is an active participant in the cesspool that is this litigation even hiring the plaintiff firm that bears the name of legendary trial lawyer Wendell Gauthier to hand out campaign cash to local “luminaries” such as Bobby Jindal and Mary Landrieu. Nocera is what he is folks and his column is otherwise very accurate, well sourced and this much is true, BP has opened its wallet to make amends.
Becky Mowbray OTOH wrote the column that needed writing as she lent some much needed context to the political environment that got us here. Becky points out that Buddy Caldwell went to the legislature to obtain contingent fee authority from the legislature to pay the state’s contract lawyers in the MDL and was denied by same. She also honed in on the fact that the lawyer representing Team Jindal, Burton LeBlanc’s law firm, Baron & Budd sits on the PSC meaning Team Jindal has potentially interest conflicted council. The report had everything but Caldwell’s appeal itself, which a reader was kind enough to share so everyone could read the entire 56 page document for themselves.
I’ll have more on this down the line as the legal conflicts of interest are open, brazen and have amazingly been allowed to this point by Judge Barbier.
Ladies and Gentlemen in the next MDL Wrestling Federation match we have a Fatal 4 way match! We have Barack Obama’s Wall Street shoe shine boy Ken Feinberg for the GCCF v Bobby “Piyush” Jindal for BP v Buddy “Tickle my ass with a feather” Caldwell v Plaintiff Steering Committee (PSC)
If not for a conflict of interest, some would have no interest at all ~ Nowdoucit
There are too many pigs for the teats ~ Abraham Lincoln
Yesterday Anita Lee at the Sun Herald broke and then added to the story of a ruling by Judge Barbier yesterday which allowed the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee to recoup their expenses from those folks that have settled their claims with BP via the Gulf Coast Claims Facility involving a 4% holdback from Louisiana and Alabama originated claims and 6% for everyone else. Seeing Anita’s story, my Katrina Bro Editilla sent me a bat signal via twitter, Anita was kind enough to share the order and spare me the PACER charge when answering my email inquiry and I shook the tree. I just about got pummeled by everything that fell out but today we’ll start by saying while we’ve favorably blogged on Judge Barbier’s rulings in post Katrina insurance litigation his latest ruling is way off base IMHO. In fact it stinks folks.
Luckily for everyone Rebecca Mowbray at the T-P joined the party today and advanced the discussion by disclosing a somewhat open secret that Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is feuding with Gov Jindal and both have legal teams with snouts firmly entrenched in the BP trough supposedly representing the State of Louisiana by pissing on each other. What Mowbray left out was that Caldwell’s contract council, Allan “Show me the Money” Kanner and Judge Barbier have also been clashing repeatedly in the courtroom and it that was addressed in the Judge Barbier’s Order and Reasons:
The Louisiana Attorney General has objected to the creation of a hold-back account insofar as it applies to the State of Louisiana. Louisiana is one of only two Gulf Coast states that have filed claims in this MDL, the other being Alabama. Notably, the Attorney General for the State of Alabama long ago reached agreement with the PSC to work cooperatively to further their joint or aligned interests. Largely for this reason, the Court appointed Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange as Coordinating Counsel for the Gulf Coast States. The Court has on multiple occasions encouraged the State of Louisiana to cooperate with the PSC and the State of Alabama insofar as their interests are aligned versus the Defendants in this complex MDL. Rather than cooperate or attempt to work collaboratively, the State of Louisiana, through its retained private counsel, has instead often obstructed and frustrated the progress of the litigation. Continue reading “Competing Conflicts of Interest cause Gulf Coast Claims Facility to suspend payments: A periodic report from the gutter where its all going down.”
The subject of the BP claims process is one that has been well blogged upon in this area though not necessarily here on Slabbed despite the natural fit given our origins as a blog devoted to the insurance claims process. Our silence here is due to the fact that I think it is too early to make a call on whether the process is fair overall. On one hand certain elder statesmen type former politicians such as former Mississippi Gov William Winter think the process is fair and that Ken Feinberg’s heart is in the right place. OTOH several of my blogging brethren and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood think Feinberg is a sorry piece of crap from Wall Street. For his part Jim Hood is fanning the anti-Feinberg flames in his most recent call for a whistleblower to step forward so he can nail Feinberg.
He did such a shitty job shielding the whistleblowing Rigsby sisters from State Farm I guess he wants a second crack.
For my part my mind is still open to information on this topic. One of my sources of information is from the professional claims adjusting community in Debbie at Dimechimes, who can be found on our blogroll. She is tracking some of the litigation involving BP, Worley etc and is back in the game after taking a short break from blogging. Continue reading “Jim Hood needs a whistleblower on BP claims: A politician running for re-election update.”
Phillip Thomas, the blogging attorney of the Mississippi Litigation Review (MLR) has two excellent posts up on the BP oil spill litigation. MLR is linked to SLABBED under Law Blogs in the right sidebar; and, if you visit there you will find Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for BP Oil Spill MDL Dominated by Lawyers from Large Firms and BP Oil Spill Update: It’s a Gusher for Feinberg Rozen as Plaintiff Lawyers Head for the Exits
Thomas’ post on the Steering Committee links Judge Barbier’s Order that names the members of the Steering Committee: Brian H. Barr, Jeffrey A. Breit, Elizabeth J. Cabraser,Philip F. Cossich, Jr., Robert T. Cunningham, Alphonso Michael Espy, Calvin C. Fayard, Jr., Robin L. Greenwald, Ervin A. Gonzalez, Rhon E. Jones, Matthew E. Lundy, Michael C. Palmintier, Paul M. Sterbcow, Scott Summy, and Mikal C. Watts:
Want to be on an exclusive MDL plaintiffs’ steering committee? Then you need to be an attorney in a large plaintiffs firm—the type that generally does not exist in Mississippi. That’s my take away from reviewing the list of attorneys on the Plaintiffs’ steering committee in the BP Oil Spill MDL.
Here is Judge Barbier’s Order rendered Friday with the names of the fifteen lawyers on the plaintiffs’ steering committee. Most of the lawyers appointed to the committee practice with large plaintiff firms. The even more exclusive executive committee is composed of four lawyers: James Roy, Russ Herman, Brian Barr and Scott Summy.
My interpretation of the Order is that the steering committee will run the entire litigation. Lawyers who represent victims—but who are not on the steering committee—appear to be getting squeezed out of the litigation.
The only Mississippi lawyer on the steering committee is Continue reading “Latest on BP oil spill litigation – the Mississippi Litigation Review reports”