The clients might reside along the Gulf Coast and have been directly affected by the Spill, or they might live hundreds of miles inland and have only the most tenuous connection to the accident (perhaps a brief, slightly elevated heart rate from hearing about it on television). They might be aware of their representation by attorneys or blissfully ignorant of their status as alleged clients. They might be alive or dead, man or beast.
It was come one, come all – or con one, con all, as oversight was lax, to say the least, and some of our state's less scrupulous attorneys lost their scruples altogether, taking such advantage of the situation that their excesses were impossible to ignore.
Now the big opportunity for lawyers in our area is defending the colleagues who got caught claiming clients who were unwitting, unliving, unreal, or unhuman.
Most zealous, shameless, and subsequently notorious was Mikal Watts, the dog's best friend, whose inclusion of a canine named Lucy Lu in his highly dubious, 40-000-plus client list set off a massive, sustained, statewide, stentorian spate of guffawing that registered on the Richter scale.
Watts, his brother David, and five associates were indicted by a federal grand jury in Gulfport last September. Their trial on fraud and identity theft charges began last week.
But Watts wasn't the only one to overindulge his taste for tempting torts.
Texas attorneys John Cracken and Bob Hilliard are being sued for $100 million for allegedly using case runners to steal the identities of Vietnamese-American Oil Spill victims.
The New Orleans law firm of Waltzer, Wiygul & Garside is also being sued, by former clients accusing the firm of inflating their modest claims against BP without permission.
There's lots of opportunity out there for lawyers to defend lawyers. Perhaps sending out some runners and to sign them up.