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BP not happy with settlement claims; state drywall litigation has little to show

 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?) 

“[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 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.”

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.

“[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.”

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About Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and the Federal Flood he helped create the Rising Tide conference, which grew into an annual social media event dedicated to the future of New Orleans.