LOGA Industry Report - Fall 2015 - (Page 78)

fEATURE coUrT waTch A Silver Lining in the BP Settlement Hourly rates saved the state millions in attorneys' fees How would you like a $700 million payday for five years of work? that's a long way from the minimum wage. But that's about what trial lawyers would have made off the Bp settlement if some lawmakers and the attorney General had been allowed to use contingency fee contracts to hire outside attorneys in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf oil spill. by Melissa Landry Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Fortunately, business and legal reform advocates didn't let that happen. But this story serves as a cautionary tale of what could happen if lawyers and lawmakers are allowed to abuse the legal system for their own personal gain. Here's the back-story. Unless you've been on vacation or living under a rock, you have probably heard the state recently settled its claims with BP for more than $6.8 billion. According to the historic agreement approved by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in July, Louisiana will get $5 billion for natural resources damages, at least $787 million for civil penalties under the federal Clean Water Act, and $1 billion for economic damages caused by the spill. In addition to this, the settlement also provides for up to $1 billion to resolve more than 500 lawsuits filed by local governments across the region. Locally, those governments include Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Tammany parishes and the City of New Orleans. Then there's the last piece of the pie - paying the lawyers. Representatives from the Attorney General's office testified that just "one quarter of one percent" of all the money recovered has gone to legal expenses. In dollars, that translates to about $27.6 million for attorneys' fees with an additional $10 78 | loGa INDUSTRY REPORT | Fall 2015 million spent on other legal fees, such as experts and environmental damage assessments. Now that's a lot for the state's lawyers, especially given that BP accepted responsibility and set up a $20 billion compensation fund long before Louisiana ever filed a claim, but a brief trip down memory lane reveals that things could have been much worse. In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell partnered with former Democratic Sen. Joel Chaisson, a trial lawyer who was serving as president of the Senate at the time, on Senate Bill 731, which would have allowed the Attorney General to hire lawyers on a contingency fee basis. Rather than paying outside lawyers a reasonable hourly rate, Chaisson and Caldwell wanted to compensate them through contingency fees, which would have allowed private attorneys to pocket a large percentage of the state's award. Caldwell argued this change in the law was needed so he could hire "the best lawyers" and achieve "something close to a level playing field." In a letter to Chaisson and other members of the Legislature in May 2010, Caldwell wrote, "I believe that a contingency fee authorization, which ensures reasonable legal fees, provides for an attorney selection process which guarantees

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LOGA Industry Report - Fall 2015

Chairman’s Corner
President’s Perspective
North Louisiana Notes
Comments from the Commissioner
From the DNR Secretary’s Desk
From the LDWF Secretary’s Desk
Comments from Congress
Legislator Profile: Senator H. Neil Riser
LOUISIANA GUBERNATORIOL RACE QUIET SO FAR
IT'S LOUISIANA'S FAVORITE SEASON- ELECTION SEASON!
LEGISLATIVE LANES TO VICTORY
LOGPAC ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS
THE COTTON VALLEY: A PLAY THAT'S GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME
Reflections on the Ever-Changing Oil and Gas Industry
CAMERON LNG NEW LIQUEFACTION FACILITIES A WIN-WIN
Court Watch: A Silver Lining in the BP Settlement
LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE PASSES NEW LAW ON DRILLING UNITS
A SUMMER OF ENERGY DISCONTENT IN WASHINGTON DC
WEATHERING THE STROM, FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE
LAGCOE 2015
OPPORTUNITY FOR CONTINUED LAWSUIT REFORM
Leadership Development: EXCELERANT
Workforce Development: Illustrating Industry Support for STEM Education
4th Annual LOGA Sporting Clays
2015 LAGCOE Open Golf Tournament
Oilfield Service Auction Preview
Member Services Spotlight: From Websites to Mobile Apps, Envoc is Making ‘A Better Reality’ for Clients
Petroleum Facts at a Glance
New Members
Index of Advertisers/ Advertisers.com

LOGA Industry Report - Fall 2015

https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0318
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0218
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0317
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0217
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0117
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0316
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0216
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0116
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0315
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0215
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/LOGT/LOGT0115
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0113
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/LOGT0308
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com