A “staff attorney at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program… was suspended after being accused of accepting fees from law firms while processing their clients’ claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” [Bloomberg] And that’s just the start of what may be much wider problems, according to a cover story by Paul Barrett at Bloomberg Business Week. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” one lawyer wrote in a client-solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.” [Bloomberg Business Week] Barrett’s account tells, in his own words, “how the private-claims process following BP’s (BP) 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill devolved into a plaintiffs’-lawyer feeding frenzy.” [BBW]
Following through on a deal announced a year ago, former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, representing the state under an arrangement with current Attorney General Jim Hood, has now sued BP over damages from the giant Transocean Gulf oil spill. [WaPo, YallPolitics, Sid Salter/Jackson Clarion Ledger] The two figures have long been entwined with each other — and both with now-disgraced Gulf Coast attorney Dickie Scruggs — in litigations that leverage the power of the state to the advantage of private lawyers, including the Great Tobacco Robbery of the late 1990s and Katrina claims.
Given the bossiness of the legislature in Annapolis these days, I had to check the calendar on this one. [Anita Park, Greater Greater Washington, April 1]
P.S. And from The Onion, where every day is April 1: “Mississippi Bans Soft Drinks Smaller Than 20 Ounces.”
Yet more: Didn’t Ilya Shapiro predict this? “Supreme Court upholds same-sex marriage as a tax” [Tax Foundation]
“A lawsuit alleges a Mississippi casino served so much alcohol to a man taking powerful prescription painkillers that he died on the floor of his hotel bathroom.” Additional dimension of pathos: he was at the casino spending the proceeds of a lawsuit settlement. [AP/Jackson Clarion Ledger]
The way Lafayette County, Miss. authorities saw it, Oxford animal rescuer Stephanie Mitchell was in violation of a state law making it a felony to take or carry away another person’s dog. Mitchell says the dog was a stray and that she had put the dog’s picture on Facebook trying to identify its owner. [WMC]
Peeking under the Hood, cont’d: Mississippi has finally passed sunshine legislation exposing to public scrutiny dealings of its attorney general with outside law firms, which can make large sums in contingency arrangements representing the state [Maggie Haberman, Politico] Not exactly unrelatedly, a Mississippi court has ruled that a settlement of the state’s case against MCI can’t funnel $14 million separately to private lawyers representing Hood on the theory that it was just a side payment and never represented public funds [YallPolitics, earlier on now-disbarred lead private lawyer in case]
“A Mississippi court has reversed a $322 million asbestos verdict against Union Carbide — believed to be the largest in U.S. history — after the judge failed to disclose his own father had pending asbestos litigation against the same company. … The jury ruled for Brown even though nine treating physicians, an independent medical examiner and an X-ray technician all testified that the plaintiff had no symptoms of asbestos-related disease.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes; earlier here, here and here]
In a new Cato post, I explain why I wish such an organization existed.
“In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for Union Carbide said Circuit Judge Eddie H. Bowen neglected to notify defense lawyers that his parents had been involved in similar asbestos litigation and had settled a case against Union Carbide.” A rural Mississippi jury earlier this month returned the largest asbestos verdict in American history, $322 million, against Union Carbide and other defendants. [AP/Stamford Advocate; Jackson Clarion-Ledger] More problems with verdict: Point of Law.
A Mississippi court of appeals “has vindicated the honor of dachshunds everywhere” by reversing a $130,000 judgment in favor of a store customer frightened by the dog’s allegedly aggressive behavior. [Penny Pinchers v. Outlaw, PDF, via Tom Freeland and Philip Thomas] More: Eugene Volokh.