Fees dispute in oil spill case is sealed
NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Former teammates in oil spill litigation are grappling for $1,166,125 in fees, and U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will handle it in secrecy.
On April 13, Barbier sealed a motion, a brief opposing a motion, affidavits, and exhibits in a dispute between firms of James Dugan and Stephen Murray, both of New Orleans.
The motion came from Murray, and Dugan didn't object.
Dugan dropped the dispute in Barbier's lap on March 25, moving to deposit $631,125 of contested funds into the court registry.
Barbier granted the motion.
Dugan dropped a second shoe on March 30, asking Barbier to transfer $535,000 from a trust account at Murray's firm to the court registry.
Dugan's lawyers, Jacques Bezou and Stacy Palowsky of Covington, La., wrote that they and Dugan repeatedly requested that Murray place the funds into the registry.
Murray opposed Dugan's second motion on April 8, and he moved to disburse the funds Dugan deposited.
Murray's lawyer, George Riess of New Orleans, moved to file pleadings in confidence.
"The pleadings contain privileged and sensitive information which, if disclosed publicly, may well affect adversely the business and commercial interests of the clients represented jointly by Murray and Dugan," Riess wrote.
He wrote that exhibits included contracts and correspondence.
He wrote that Dugan, through Bezou, did not object to the motion.
He certified that he provided social security numbers for Murray and Dugan, and tax numbers for their firms.
Barbier granted the motion, shielding the documents from public view on the Internet and in the clerk's office.