BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Attorney General’s office has responded to a lawsuit brought against it by a statewide oil and gas trade organization.
The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA) brought suit against Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell for approval he provided for contingency fees in a lawsuit that was brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority–East (SLFPA-E) against 97 oil and energy exploration companies for what they claim is damage to the state’s coast due to energy exploration activities.
In the lawsuit, LOGA claims the litigation brought forth by SLFPA-E is unconstitutional due to its reliance on lawyers that at one point were set to receive one third of any damages collected by the agency, which has since been reduced to 22.5 percent. Defendants in the case are expected to be to be liable for billions in damages if found responsible for the coastal damage alleged in the lawsuit.
LOGA asserts that because the SLFPA-E is a governmental body, Caldwell’s office should have assessed its ability to take on the case before handing it off to law firm Jones, Swanson, Huddell & Garrison LLC.
In response to the lawsuit, Caldwell’s office said the firm can only act as counsel to SLFPA-E when called upon to do so and that he only approved the resolution and not the hiring of an outside law firm and that he has approved “countless resolutions” that were similar before.
“Mr. Caldwell’s approval of the resolution is not an unconstitutional violation of the restrictions of the appropriation and/or use of State funds. Pursuant to law, any award to SLFPA-E as a result of any action taken pursuant to the Contract would not be classified as ‘State funds’ because SLFPA-E is an independent political subdivision, not a State entity of agency,” the response stated.
Caldwell’s office also said in its response that LOGA’s lawsuit will not succeed and that the organization has failed to allege irreparable injury in its course of filing the lawsuit. Caldwell called for the lawsuit against his office to be dismissed.
LOGA president Don Briggs said the organization intends to move forward with the lawsuit.
“We are firmly committed to our position that is clearly outlined in our petition. The actions taken by the AG in approving the Resolution adopted by the SLFPA-E was in clear violation of state law and his duties as AG,” he said.
Caldwell is being represented in the case by Grant J. Guillot of Baton Rouge-based Shows, Cali & Walsh LLP.