Letter: A darker side of legacy lawsuits in Louisiana

03 15, 2012 by The Advocate

Most people reading Advocate business writer Ted Griggs’ March 11 report on legacy lawsuits probably would agree that environmental damage on Louisiana land should be cleaned up by the responsible party. Ironically, another key element of the legacy lawsuit story is the mounting evidence, which suggests many of the legacy lawsuits are more about “smoke and mirrors” and lawsuit greed than any “responsible party.”

Data compiled by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources for the state Legislature show 78 percent of all the legacy cases filed present no evidence of actual damages according to state evidence standards. This statistic begs the question: If there are no actual damages presented, then why are these cases being filed?

In a video recently on the website of the American Tort Reform Association, one plaintiff attorney’s consultant describes legacy suits in very simple terms — “big money.” During a lecture on how plaintiffs’ attorneys file phony legacy suits, he describes Louisiana’s system as a lawsuit “lottery” and outlines an 11-step plan for how to blame oil and gas companies for natural occurrences in Louisiana’s landscape. He explains, “Salt domes impact the surface and near surface themselves — just a natural occurrence. But when I find these things, maybe I’m going to contend that the oil companies did it. It’s tough to name God as a defendant. The oil companies did it.”

Can this be too outrageous to be true? See it for yourself at http://www.judicialhellholes.org/legacy-lawsuits/. The message is clear: Many of these so-called legacy suits are about making green, not being green.