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Critics of agency suit claim it has no legal ground

In July 2013, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed suit against 97 companies alleging that the companies had damaged areas of the coast. Critics of the lawsuit cite concerns that it will cause gas and oil companies to decide against coming to the state or to leave it. Supporters of the lawsuit claim that, if the suit is stopped by pending legislation, the oil and gas industry will receive the message that it does not have to worry about being held liable for an accident that causes environmental damage.

State Governor Bobby Jindal has stated that the state should have a legal environment that is “fair and predictable,” suggesting that the legal process may be stabilized by political interference. Other critics of the lawsuit include the head of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and Senator Robert Adley. The head of the oil and gas association has characterized the lawsuit as “abusive” and warned that these kinds of lawsuits are causing the loss of thousands of area jobs. Proponents of the suit, on the other hand, argue that political interference undercuts the judicial system in allowing the industry to operate without fear of legal accountability. They maintain that the suit properly reflects the state’s authority to ensure that its natural resources are protected.

The public debate surrounding the SLFPA-E lawsuit serves as a reminder of the role of litigation in shaping policies and laws concerning the environment, workplace safety and other issues. Individuals who have been injured by workplace incidents such as oil spills or unsafe working conditions may have the opportunity to raise awareness of these issues through litigation.

A personal injury lawyer with a background in workplace injury or product liability cases may be able to provide legal guidance and support to a plaintiff who has been injured due to an unsafe work environment or an employer’s lax enforcement of safety standards.

Source: The New Orleans Advocate, “Stephanie Grace: Bills aim to short-circuit judicial system”, Stephanie Grace, August 02, 2014

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