SE Texas Record

Friday, December 6, 2019

Court-shopping Texas trial lawyers heading to Louisiana, say tort reform groups

By David Yates | Sep 2, 2015


Texas and Louisiana tort reform groups are voicing concerns that Lone Star trial lawyers are seeking Bayou State clients to sue Chesapeake Energy.

On Sep. 1 Melissa Landry, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, had an opinion piece appear on The Hayride, a conservative political commentary site, in which she writes that Texas lawyers are heading to Bossier City, La. “looking for a goldmine of Louisiana landowners.”

“Through a series of town hall style meetings, the out-of-town attorneys are hoping to sign up thousands of plaintiffs to join the legal war they are waging against Chesapeake Energy, alleging the oil and gas producers have underpaid royalties to leaseholders,” writes Landry.

“Dan McDonald, with the Fort Worth-based McDonald Law Firm, has reportedly spent millions on billboards and mass mailings to generate thousands of similar cases in Texas. Now this tort kingpin, who usually handles personal injury and medical-malpractice claims, is doubling down on his highly sophisticated marketing strategy to generate clients in Louisiana.”

Back in Texas, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and Texans against Lawsuit Abuse immediately picked up Landry’s article, with both groups issuing a statement accusing Lone Star trial lawyers of “traveling to the Bayou State to drum up lawsuits against Chesapeake Energy.”

In her article, Landry says McDonald is using high-pressure sales tactics and no-cost, no-risk offers to attract clients, sending out thousands of advertisements to North Louisiana gas leaseholders, promising substantial sums of money.

“The contingency fee arrangement McDonald has sent to potential clients would allow his firm to take nearly 40 (percent) of any award and up to an additional 10 (percent) of any award for attorney costs and other expenses,” writes Landry.

“These one-sided provisions are not uncommon in mass tort cases, and explain why lawyers like McDonald often rake in enormous legal fees while individual plaintiffs are short changed in these cases.

“Meanwhile, the impact of this kind of predatory litigation on the economy can be staggering.”

TALA is praising Landry for Landry and LLAW for “exposing” the apparent client troll.

“These types of tactics from trial lawyers are precisely the reason for stifled economic growth, higher costs of goods, and continued job loss,” states a TALA blog post. “(TALA) praises LLAW for their efforts to shine light on these abusive tactics.”

On the McDonald Law Firm’s website, a user can select “Chesapeake Royalty Litigation” as a case type when contacting the firm.

Landry goes on to write that over the past decade, trial lawyers have made millions of dollars suing thousands of energy companies by lodging environmental complaints backed up with little or no evidence, in addition to dozens of new government-sponsored lawsuits against gas companies that amount to an “all-out assault by plaintiffs’ lawyers on Louisiana employers.”

“The bottom line is that if these lawsuits are successful, trial lawyers will profit while Louisiana will shed jobs,” writes Landry.

“Economists estimate Louisiana’s poor legal climate already hinders growth and economic development, costing the state as many as 50,000 jobs every year. How many more jobs will this new round of litigation cost us?”

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