• The BP oil spill and the rule of law (or the rule of lawyers)

    A major development is coming in the legal battle surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether to review issues presented by BP’s class-action case. What’s at stake here is important not just for BP, but for all of us; namely, whether the rule of law or the rule of lawyers will prevail.

    The BP petition presents a narrow issue: whether a class was properly certified consistent with Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Procedure and Article III of the U.S. Constitution. In plain terms, it is whether a class action can be brought if substantial numbers of the class have not suffered any injury caused by the defendant.

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  • In the BP case, the rule of law is on trial

    The rule of law is the underpinning of our legal and economic systems.  In Louisiana, the rule of law is threatened by the rule of lawyers. In the next few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to take up a class action case involving BP, the petroleum giant responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The legal issue is whether a federal court can certify a class of plaintiffs that includes, in the words of BP’s petition, “vast numbers of members who have not suffered any injury caused by the defendant.”

    Only the Supreme Court can put a halt to what Judge Edith Clement, dissenting from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision favoring the Louisiana lawyers, warned was the judiciary becoming a “party to the fraud” against BP.

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  • South Mississippi man faces trial in oil-spill fraud case

    GULFPORT -- A South Mississippi man faces trial in a federal fraud case alleging he lied about his past employment to get $25,800 in oil-spill recovery money.

    Shawn Albert Townsel received the money after claiming he lost work as a first-class painter/blaster with Northrop Grumman/Peyton Sandblasting & Paining in Pascagoula and in Bayou La Batre, Ala., the indictment said.

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  • Gulf Island Whole 9 Years After Katrina

    DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. -- Nature and a multimillion dollar rock pile built in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill have healed a large barrier island nine years after it was sliced in two by Hurricane Katrina.

    Katrina swamped Alabama's narrow Dauphin Island in 2005, creating a pass that grew from a few dozen feet to about 1.5 miles wide by the time the oil spill occurred in 2010. The cut left more than 7 miles of pristine beach inaccessible by foot on the island's uninhabited western end.

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  • Local man sentenced in BP claims fraud case

    MOBILE, Ala. – A local man was sentenced Friday in federal court to five years probation related to filing of a fraudulent BP claim.

    According to a release issued Friday by U.S. Attorney Kenyen R. Brown’s office, George Lee Love was sentenced after pleading guilty to access device fraud.


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  • Judge critical of 3 lawyers in oil-spill damage claims

    NEW ORLEANS -- Evidence clearly shows a lawyer inside a court-supervised facility that handles damages claims over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and two outside attorneys lied about a system of payments set up to help speed claims through the process, a federal judge said Friday.

    U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's comments came at the end of a day of testimony and arguments centered on allegations Lionel Sutton III, a lawyer working for the center, got kickbacks in exchange for helping speed through a law firm's clients' claims.

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  • Oil spill lawyer denies wrongdoing in handling BP claims

    A lawyer accused of taking kickbacks to speed up settlement claims from the catastrophic 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill denied any wrongdoing at a federal hearing Friday contended that he never acted improperly even as he took a hefty fee for a claim that he was processing.

    Lionel Sutton III testified in a case where he is accused of accepting kickbacks while he was a lawyer for a center processing damage claims against oil giant BP. Accused along with him is his wife, Christine Reitano, who also worked at the claims center.

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  • Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism projects 2014 as another record year for lodging on Alabama's beaches

    GULF SHORES, Alabama -- The three-year trend of increasing tourism on Alabama's beach towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach appears to be continuing in 2014.

    Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism group has projected that lodging revenue for 2014 will reach $375 million for 2014, which would be a 7.1 percent increase from last year's record $350 million. The figures are taken from lodging tax records provided by state and local governments through the end of October.

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  • Supreme Court Can End Fraudulent Payouts In BP Spill Case

    In the years since 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill, energy firm BP has seen its public image suffer, and rightly so. The explosion took the lives of 11 rig workers, injured many more, and did enormous economic and environmental harm to the Gulf Coast region.

    To its credit, BP has shown an enormous commitment to repairing the damage caused by the spill. In the weeks following the incident, the company moved quickly to set up a fund to compensate businesses affected by the disaster.

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  • BP: New evidence backs call to oust spill claims czar

    NEW ORLEANS -- BP is turning up the heat in its efforts to remove the claims administrator it blames for "hijacking" its multibillion-dollar oil spill damage settlement with individuals and businesses.

    It presented emails and billing records it says prove that Patrick Juneau helped individual claimants in their disputes with BP during his time as a contract lawyer for the state of Louisiana, prior to becoming a neutral administrator of BP's settlement with some of those same claimants.

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