Prominent Ala. attorney among those filing oil spill suits

By John O'Brien | May 12, 2010


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Heavyweight Alabama trial lawyer Jere Beasley is among those filing lawsuits over an explosion and oil spill at an offshore drilling site owned by BP.

Beasley's Montgomery firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles has already filed class action lawsuits on behalf of the restaurant owners, Louisiana businesses, BP shareholders and individuals who have suffered property damages.

Beasley, a former of lieutenant governor in the state, is also working with state Attorney General Troy King on lawsuits against more than 70 pharmaceutical companies. He's also the campaign chairman for Democratic Congressman Artur Davis, who is running for governor this year.

"We've talked to a number of shareholders....Some people are hopeful. Some are sure they're going to go down. And some are shocked that they have stock in a company that has such a terrible record," Beasley told the National Law Journal.

The report says Beasley planned to file the shareholder suit Tuesday -- the firm's fifth related to the incident.

Since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the Louisiana coast April 20, killing 11 workers, about 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, of oil have been flooding into Gulf waters daily.

In a letter to the five state attorneys general who represent Gulf Coast states, BP General Counsel John Lynch Jr. said claimants against the company will not be asked to release BP from liability.

Beasley says restaurant owners are depending on tourists, and the spill will harm their industry.

"Between hurricanes and the difficult economic climate, these folks are depending on a strong vacation season to survive," Beasley said.

Last year, the Alabama Supreme Court overturned more than $270 million in verdicts in favor of Beasley's firm and the state.

The lawsuits alleged more than 70 companies have been ripping off the state's Medicaid program by overcharging for their prescription drugs. Of the five suits that went to trial, the other two were initially unsuccessful.

Jury verdicts against AstraZeneca, Novartis Pharmaceutical and GlaxoSmithKline resulted in awards of $215 million, $33 million and $80.9 million, respectively.

The AstraZeneca verdict was reduced to $160 million before the Supreme Court overturned it.

Beasley has tried more than 30 cases to verdicts of more than $1 million.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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