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Political Disputes Rise Over Levee Board Lawyer Fees

Contingency fee contracts are commonplace today, as they allows plaintiffs to move forward with their lawsuit without paying any money to an attorney. The attorney’s fees are paid out of the judgment or settlement that the plaintiff receives. If the plaintiff does not receive any money, then the plaintiff’s attorney doesn’t either.

A political battle is heating up in Louisiana over contingency fee contracts. The two politicians involved in the dispute are Jeff Landry, a former member of the state Senate, and current Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Some believe that Landry is trying to pave the way for a run at the Attorney General’s office in 2015.

The first point of contention was over the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East and its lawsuit against almost 100 oil and gas companies. That lawsuit claims that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the injury and damage to Louisiana’s coastal areas because of dredging and the building of pipelines and canals. The lawsuit wants the oil and gas energy to fix or pay for the damage.

Caldwell approved a contingency fee contract which made it possible for the SLFPA-E to retain a law firm for the massive lawsuit. Landry disagreed with Caldwell approving the contract.

That’s not the only contingency fee contract that has Caldwell in a bind. Caldwell sent out a letter earlier this month expressing his desire to meet with Landry, two lobbying groups and others about a class-action lawsuit against the state of Louisiana by a teachers’ union and a school board. Landry responded publically, saying that he would “be happy to enter [Caldwell’s] office and make the right decisions on behalf of the people of Louisiana.” Landry did not seem to appreciate Caldwell’s offer for a meeting and made a comment about the Attorney General not knowing what he should do. No one else who was invited commented on the invitation.

Because there are so many factors to consider in a lawsuit, it’s best to speak with an experienced attorney to learn more about your options. Environmental issues affect everyone and without action, big industry may continue to make its mark – and possibly not a good one – on our country.

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Lake Charles, Louisiana


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