BATON ROUGE - A plaintiff's attorney is attempting to depose a Louisiana State University researcher over a study he released regarding the economic damage of "legacy lawsuits."
Dr. David Dismukes, associate director and professor at the Center for Energy Studies at LSU, released the study in late February revealing the state economy had lost an estimated $6.8 billion and lost out on the creation of over 30,000 jobs over the past eight years due to lawsuits filed on behalf of property owners who claim environmental damages from past energy extraction activities.
There have been 16 bills introduced in the current state legislative session to reform the way legacy lawsuits are handled.
Attorney Don Carmouche, who has filed suits on behalf on many landowners, has ordered Dismukes be deposed to answer questions in relation to the accuracy of the study's conclusions and to determine who funded the study.
Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association claims Carmouche is using the deposition to try and sway public opinion.
"I can assure the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association did not put a dime into the study and never requested it," Briggs said. "It's political strategy. It's intimidation and for lack of a better word-trickery."
Carmouche said the most recent action in the case has been LSU's attempt to stop the deposition from occurring.
"It's absurd to me that our flagship university in the face of our complete awareness that this was bought and paid for by the major oil companies-that they would deny us the right to depose this so-called expert over there, but they are moving to quash it," Carmouche said.
Carmouche originally planned on deposing Dismukes on March 29, but says that date will be postponed due to the challenge from LSU.