'Clients' for cash

The SE Texas Record Apr. 9, 2013, 10:32am

What were the odds that a Vietnamese fisherman living in small enclave on the Gulf Coast would realize that his name was included among thousands of others on a client list submitted in the BP oil spill case? Slim, right? After all, he spends most of his time in a boat, not in court. 

Still, what kind of reckless egomaniac could be involved with such a list?

We can think of two, perhaps.

San Antonio attorney Mikal Watts claimed to represent 44,510 clients in his class action suit against BP, but got into hot water when it came out that some of that number (including Vietnamese fishermen) had no knowledge of his representation. The U.S. Secret Service has since raided Watts’ law offices to try to find out how many of his putative clients are for real.

Now we learn that rock-star local litigant Brent “Double Dip” Coon may have been playing this same game.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier dropped a bomb on Coon last week when he announced that a signature on one of Double Dip’s client contracts appears to be a forgery.

It is not surprising that the suspect signature is that of a Vietnamese fisherman.

Maybe Watts and Coon both got disoriented and it was a coincidental mistake. Or maybe it’s part of a pattern that’s beginning to unravel.

Remember how Coon claimed that thousands of his oil spill clients were opting out of the mass settlement offered by BP and pursuing their own litigation? And how it turned out that nearly 8,000 of his opt-out documents lacked proper client signatures and were thus invalid?

Call it incompetence, if you want to, but the feds seem to be looking for fraud.

And it makes you think. What other questionable names might be found among the thousands on Coons’ and Watts’s client lists? They can’t all be Vietnamese fishermen.

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