- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Washington Times’ recent editorial about the “feeding frenzy” of lawyers recruiting businesses to make lucrative claims in the aftermath of the BP settlement describes a long-standing problem in Louisiana (“Shark attack in the Gulf,” Aug. 13). This model of using (or abusing) the law to extract money from companies is frequently employed by some plaintiff lawyers in the Pelican State.

For example, over the past decade, scores of companies were hit with “legacy lawsuits” claiming environmental harm caused by oil and gas exploration and production conducted decades, sometimes a century, ago. Incredibly, last year a video emerged showing an oil-field consultant telling plaintiffs’ attorneys how to file phony legacy lawsuits. The consultant said about naturally occurring spoliation, “You can’t sue God … say the oil companies did it.”

Today, a local New Orleans area levee board is suing nearly 100 energy companies over damaging hurricanes. The lawsuit reads like a science fiction novel, trying to create an easy villain by alleging that oil and gas operators are responsible for creating a “mercilessly efficient, continuously expanding system of ecological destruction.” Many questions surround the legality of the suit and whether it will proceed. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says it won’t, but one thing is clear: This is not about saving Louisiana’s coast. This is about money for plaintiffs’ trial lawyers in cahoots with a local levee board.

Louisianans are witnessing an unrelenting plaintiff lawyers’ assault on businesses that provide well-paying local jobs and contribute billions in taxes. Not surprisingly, Louisiana’s legal climate consistently ranks as one of the worst in the country, and Mr. Jindal should make legal reform his next project.

MELISSA LANDRY

Executive director, Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch

Baton Rouge, La.