• BP Seeks Rehearing in Oil Spill Settlement Dispute

    BP on Tuesday asked an appeals court to review a ruling upholding a multibillion-dollar settlement to compensate victims of the company's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In a filing with the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, BP argued that a divided three-judge panel from the court erred earlier this month when it affirmed a U.S. district judge's approval of the company's settlement with a team of private plaintiffs' lawyers. The New Orleans-based appeals court has 14 active judges and eight senior judges who also hear cases.

    Read More
  • Warning: Watch Out for American ‘Justice’

    They could be a directory of small businesses anywhere in the developed world: a farm, a restaurant, a car dealership, a house builder and a computer equipment company. What they have in common is that they have gorged on the once-in-a-lifetime bonanza available to small businesses across several southern American states to enrich themselves from the scheme set up by BP to compensate those hit by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

    Read More
  • Five Hooter’s Employees Get Federal Prison Time For False Oil Spill Claims

    Five former Hooter’s employees have been sentenced to federal prison for filing fraudulent BP oil spill claims. Charles C. Martin, 40, and Joseph B. Doyon, 43, of Pace, and Marquis R. Seals, 34, Bernard Cook, 39, and Tremayne C. Jamison, 42, of Pensacola, were sentenced in federal court after having pleaded guilty to mail fraud and filing false claims related to the 2010 BP oil spill.

    Read More
  • In BP Oil Spill Suit, Plaintiffs' Attorneys Turn on Each Other

    Just when you thought the BP oil spill litigation couldn’t get any weirder or more vicious, two titans of the plaintiffs’ bar have gone to war—against each other. It’s Godzilla versus King Kong, as Danny Becnel of Louisiana sues Mikal Watts of Texas. Becnel prefers to call himself The King of Torts. My Bloomberg Businessweek colleague Ken Wells wrote a crackerjack profile of him when Becnel materialized among the first group of mass-injury lawyers to file suit on behalf of victims of the April 2010 BP oil spill off the Louisiana coast. Becnel, the article noted, ”has represented plaintiffs in some of the highest-profile class actions in American history, from fen-phen diet pills and Big Tobacco to Dow Corning breast implants and the recent Toyota (TM) sudden-acceleration cases.”

    Read More
  • Freeh Asks Judge to Rescind Oil Spill Award

    A former FBI director investigating alleged misconduct inside the settlement program for compensating victims of BP's 2010 Gulf oil spill has concluded that a claimant at the center of the investigation was awarded more than $357,000 based on fraudulent information. In a court filing late Wednesday, Louis Freeh recommended that a federal judge rescind the award to Casey C. Thonn and order any lawyer who profited from the settlement to pay restitution.

    Read More
  • BP Oil-Spill Settlement Imbroglio Enters Strip Club Phase

    While I was on holiday break, the BP oil-spill settlement scandal descended into the realm of strip club assignations. That’s what happens when you take your eye off the news for a few days. To review briefly: The April 2010 Gulf of Mexico well blowout and rig explosion killed 11 workers and created a horrific mess off the coast of Louisiana. Lawsuits and prosecutions ensued. BP began paying out billions of dollars for cleanup and damage claims. A majority of the contamination has dissipated, thankfully, and the Gulf economy has mostly recovered. BP’s tab has exceeded $25 billion and it’s climbing, probably to the vicinity of $40 billion. The company has pleaded guilty to criminal charges, settled with some parties, and is still fighting in court against others. Early last year, though, BP came to the conclusion that some plaintiffs’ lawyers and their clients were taking advantage of the situation and filing unsubstantiated claims—an allegation hotly (but not terribly convincingly) contested by the plaintiffs’ bar. As a result, the hostilities in New Orleans federal courtrooms are heating up just as one might have hoped they’d be cooling off.

    Read More
  • Editorial: Cash in the Water

    The lawyers hit a gusher in the Gulf of Mexico The sharks are circling in the Gulf of Mexico. A federal judge on Christmas Eve delivered a ruling that puts BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, at the mercy of anyone who claims he or she lost business as a result of the infamous 2010 oil spill. Even hookers are getting a piece of the action. The company once courted environmentalists with a slogan of “Beyond Petroleum,” and then one of its oil wells blew out, fouling the Gulf with an estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil. Thousands suffered actual and authentic losses and deserve to be made whole again, but the scent of cash has attracted others with claims that are beyond avarice.

    Read More
  • The Lawsuit Bayou

    Louisiana has become the tort bar's new mecca for litigation. The thing to keep in mind when the subject is tort reform is that any reform will remain a half solution; the trial lawyers will work night and day to find ways around reform. That's the lesson from the American Tort Reform Foundation's annual Judicial Hellholes report, which reveals new lawsuit abuses sprouting despite efforts across the country to reduce the damage from this politically powerful profession. California, New York and West Virginia maintain their rankings among the worst litigation climates in the country, inviting lawsuits on everything from disability access and asbestos to consumer and environmental claims. New to the list this year is Louisiana, which has seen a flood of so-called legacy lawsuits, in which trial lawyers plumb property records and then sue energy companies for past drilling, alleging environmental degradation.

    Read More
  • Judicial Hellholes’ 2013/2014 Report

    Since 2002 the American Tort Reform Association’s (ATRA) Judicial Hellholes® program has built on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s (ATRF) annual report of the same name, documenting developments in places where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants. More recently the lawsuit industry has begun aggressively lobbying for legislative and regulatory expansions of liability, as well, so Judicial Hellholes reporting has evolved to include such law- and rule-making activity, much of which can affect the fairness of a state’s lawsuit climate as readily as judicial actions. The 2013-2014 report shines its brightest spotlight on six areas of the country that have developed reputations as Judicial Hellholes: 1. California 2. Louisiana 3. New York City 4. West Virginia 5. Madison & St. Clair Counties, Illinois 6. South Florida

    Read More
  • BP Still Paying for Deepwater Horizon Blowout

    A little over three years ago – April 20, 2010, to be exact – a drilling rig named the Deepwater Horizon was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico when an explosion occurred and created one of the largest oil spills in history. The accident killed 11 people, and the drilling rig sank two days later on April 22. The well oozed crude oil and natural gas until for several months. On July 15, the well was temporarily plugged and completely plugged on September 19. The blowout of the Deepwater Horizon was a great tragedy in many ways. But what has happened to BP, the company that was the operator of the well, is a tragedy, too.

    Read More