Judges skeptical of BP argument in fight over oil spill claims — Fuel Fix | Lawyers for BP asked a federal appeals court panel to intervene and halt payouts to oil spill claimants, but it didn’t appear that the judges were buying it, since BP agreed to the original deal.
Samuel Issacharoff, a New York University law professor who specializes in complex litigation, told the appeals panel on behalf of the settlement class that BP’s motivation in agreeing to such generous terms was to get certainty over its spill costs.
“BP wanted peace,” Issacharoff said.
And when it botched its estimates it turned to the court for relief, he said.
Judge [James L.] Dennis seemed to agree.
“It could be that BP misperceived how big this would be,” Dennis said. “BP agreed to this way of measuring losses.”
The article shows high-powered BP lawyer Ted Olsen having a rough time of it, essentially having to argue that BP agreed to an unfair arrangement, but too many claimants are taking advantage of it, and BP won’t be able to afford costs for which it didn’t budget. (Is there a loose parallel to the city’s situation with costs associated with consent decree agreements?)
Justice, Louisiana style — The New York Times | In Joe Nocera’s opinion piece, he argues that BP is “being fleeced” by Louisiana. He claims it sets a bad precedent, since BP attempted to “do the right thing.” That is, technically, it could have hid behind the ridiculously low civil oil spill penalty limits, instead of quickly setting up a $20 billion fund. They also could have “lawyered up” and strung the matter out for decades in court, before they had to cut a check. (However, I think BP realized this approach would have been a public-relations catastrophe.) Nocera claims:
“[BP] waived the $75 million liability cap that federal law allows. It has spent, so far, $14 billion cleaning up the Gulf and another $11 billion settling claims of various sorts. It has taken its medicine willingly. Yet its efforts to do right by the Gulf region have only emboldened those who view it as a cash machine.
The next time a big company has an industrial accident, its board of directors is likely to question whether it really makes sense to “do the right thing” the way BP has tried to. Any board comparing BP’s response to the gulf oil spill with Exxon-Mobil’s response to the Exxon-Valdez spill is going to come to the obvious conclusion: Exxon-Mobil’s litigation-to-the-death strategy — which ultimately cost it $4 billion rather than the potential $40 billion liability BP is now facing — was the right one. Is that really what we want as a country?”
As hurricane season nears peak, battle rages over marsh creation – FOX 8 WVUE | Diversions are creating marsh in Plaquemines Parish.
“The area, which sports healthy plant growth and teems with wildlife, is a far cry from what is typical along the South Louisiana coastline. “You see a glimpse of the way the system used to work,” said David Muth, director of the National Wildlife Federation Coastal Louisiana Campaign. Muth insists other methods, such as dredging, must be part of the equation. However, he argues only diversions can address the root cause of the problem: a land mass disconnected from the river that built it.”
Advocacy group sues Gusman on behalf of elderly, mentally ill inmate that was beaten in jail — The Advocate | A former Marine who suffered permanent brain damage after being beaten in the city jail in 2012 claims Orleans Parish Prison staff did not protect him from dangerous inmates.
Research suggests link between lead and crime rates — Anniston Star | A small Alabama town’s aberrant crime rates may be linked to its high levels lead contamination. The in-depth piece quotes Howard Mielke, a research professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, the premier proponent of the theory that lead blood levels are correlated to impulse control, and violent crime.
Pricey meals continue at Orleans Parish Criminal Court – FOX 8 WVUE | Court staff are failing to comply with rules were put in place last year restricting lunches to $10 each.
Government & Politics
Millions spent on Chinese drywall litigation without much to show for it — WWL-TV | Public records reveal that
State taxpayers have paid a Colorado lawyer and his firm $3.5 million over four years to represent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell in the massive Chinese drywall litigation.
That’s in spite of the fact that thousands of private plaintiffs already settled their claims against the Chinese drywall manufacturers, their affiliates and installers 18 months ago – and despite being nearly invisible, even to leading plaintiffs’ lawyers who say they weren’t aware the state had any claims.
N.O. City Council set to put water board reforms to voters — The Advocate | If approved by voters this fall, “the water board changes will give City Hall a tighter rein on an agency in the midst of millions of dollars in upgrades to city infrastructure.”
Zurik: St. Tammany files double-barreled suit against coroner – FOX 8 WVUE |
“[St. Tammany Coroner Peter] Galvan is saying, ‘The law is unconstitutional, you don’t have the right to take away this power from me,'” says [Fox 8 legal analyst Joe] Raspanti. The parish, on the other side of the nickel, is saying, ‘Hey, not only did you not do this correctly, you took money that is public money and you need to reimburse the parish, and we’re suing you for that money.’ That’s a pretty serious allegation.”
Legislative auditor calls for improvements at New Orleans Redevelopment Authority | NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune – “New Orleans’ leading blight-fighting agency, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, has been operating without written, overarching policies for how it manages everything from internal audits and ethical concerns to payroll and paid time off, according to an assessment by the Louisiana legislative auditor’s office.”
Neighbors ask property owner to follow “Good Neighbor Agreement” – FOX 8 WVUE | Garden District Association “wants to see certain conditions met before it gets behind plans to lure another national retailer to Magazine Street.”
Audit reveals systemic, widespread problems in Louisiana’s school voucher program — CenLamar | Blogger Lamar White takes a second look at a recent audit of the state’s voucher program, and contends that recent reports and opinion columns have not accurately characterized the results.
Loyola bracing for huge drop in enrollment — The Advocate | Preliminary estimates show a stunning 45 percent drop in the number of incoming first-year students committed to Loyola University, compared to last year.