Attorneys’ contract changed in levee board lawsuit

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed suit against 97 oil and gas companies last July. The lawsuit alleges that the oil and gas companies are responsible for the damage and injury to the Louisiana coastal areas. The lawsuit met with heavy opposition from the governor’s office, as well as from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. Governor Jindal’s coastal advisor, Garret Graves, has said that the contract with the attorneys representing the SLFPA-E could allow the lawyers to file new lawsuits that the levee board didn’t have to approve.

The attorneys, however, proposed changes to the contract they have with the SLFPA-E. One of these changes is to lower the contingency amount. This is the amount the attorneys will receive if this lawsuit is a success. In addition, if a court determines that one of the oil and gas companies has to repair and rebuild the damaged wetlands, then the lawyers will not be receiving any of that money slated for the rebuilding process. The latter has been one of the larger issues with opponents, who were critical that any of the money for rebuilding would go to the attorneys.

There is also a change in the contract that will keep the attorneys hired by the SLFPA-E from filing any other lawsuit with the board’s authority.

The “poison pill” provision was not changed, however. This would allow the attorneys to be paid for the time they have invested in the lawsuit even if it were dropped at some point in the future. The amount that the attorneys would be paid is limited, though.

Environmental concerns, such as the destruction of the Louisiana wetlands sometimes require legal action in order to get sufficient resources to fix the problem. Lawsuits such as this one give courts power to make sure the state’s resources are properly taken care of.

Source: The Associated Press, “Flood board’s lawyers agree to contract changes in ‘Big Oil’ suit” No author given, Dec. 20, 2013

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