Kent connection not Buzbee's first time in the headlines

Marilyn Tennissen Feb. 7, 2008, 7:13am

Tony Buzbee

Galveston attorney Tony Buzbee is used to being in headlines for his legal victories, but he recently made the news again for having lunch with a judge right after the judge ruled in his favor.

The Galveston Daily News reported that Buzbee whisked U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent away in his Aston Martin after Kent granted his request to depose the CEO of BP in litigation regarding the 2005 explosion at the Texas City refinery.

Kent is coming under scrutiny for his social relationships with some of the lawyers in the Galveston area that are on his "favored" list, which includes Buzbee.

But it is not just judges that love Tony, the Buzbee law firm Web site boasts that "juries love him."

Buzbee is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where he served as a battalion commander in the Corps of Cadets.

After college he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Persian Gulf and Somalia. After his Marine Corps service, Buzbee entered law school at the University of Houston Law Center, where he was managing editor of the law review and graduated No. 2 in his class.

He began practice with Jones Act and maritime suits, but also represented more than 150 plaintiffs in BP explosion claims. He also represents the family of a BP employee killed last month.

And laid back sailor/songwriter Jimmy Buffett hired Buzbee to represent him in a trademark infringement claim.

Buzbee is also past Chairman of the Galveston County Democratic Party and ran for representative in 2002. There was also buzz that he was considering a run for lieutenant governor against David Dewhurst in 2006.

In 2005, Buzbee made news when he won a $16.6 million judgment from Ford in the case of a rollover crash that killed a 13-year-old boy.

He became the poster boy for tort reform when he was taped at a 2006 law seminar in Nevada about the South Texas courts. He is recorded saying that because of the Hispanic juries and judges, a Starr County venue "adds about 75 percent to the value of the case."

His next act is to take on the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Buzbee's firm is one of seven law firms to file lawsuits on behalf of more than 500 Louisiana residents who lived in FEMA trailers following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturers violated federal and Louisiana laws by producing hurricane relief housing units that emit formaldehyde "at a dangerously unhealthy rate."

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