In July, Buddy Calwell, the Louisiana attorney general, gave his approval for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority-East to retain legal representation in a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies. The lawsuit seeks compensation for a variety of claims, including the damage and injury the coastal areas of the state have sustained because of the building of pipelines and dredging of canals.
The approval of the AG was given based on the reasonableness of the attorney fees, the good standing of the law firms and attorneys and because other areas in the contract were not out-of-line with state requirements.
The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, though, wanted the AG to pull back that approval. Caldwell and LOGA, as well as other opponents of the SLFPA-E’s lawsuit, have been at odds over whether the contract for retaining legal representations should have had approval from the AG’s office.
The SLFPA-E asked for a state auditor to review the lawsuit and the contract. The results of that review were released last week and indicated that there were questions about the lawsuit and contract that should be addressed by a judge.
Soon after the auditor’s report was released, LOGA filed a lawsuit in Baton Rouge in state district court and alleges three things. First, LOGA says that the AG should represent the SLFPA-E in the lawsuit and not an outside law firm. Second, the contract has several issues that should have kept it from being approved. Finally, LOGA asserts that the role the state has in restoring the coastal areas will be harmed by the lawsuit because a portion of the money that should go to the state if the SLFPA-E were to win the lawsuit would go to the attorneys.
While there is no way to tell how either lawsuit will play out, one thing is certain: Civil action is often needed to address environmental concerns.
Source: theadvocate.com, “Oil and gas association challenges AG’s approval of contract for coastal lawsuit” Jeff Adelson, Dec. 16, 2013