La. industry groups pushing 'legacy lawsuit' reform

By Kyle Barnett | Apr 6, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. (Legal Newsline) - A joint statement has been released by a trio of energy and industry associations detailing their plans to push ahead with "legacy lawsuit" reform legislation despite opposition from landowners.

The statement was signed by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and addressed to members of numerous house and senate committees who will be handling various proposals seeking to limit liability for energy companies who are being sued by owners of land where oil drilling once occurred.

A proposed agreement brokered by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle is cited in the statement as "not being the most important, vital and transparent resolution of the lawsuits."

Industry officials are expected to increase lobbying efforts with the aim of passing through substantive reform despite opposition from landowners.

Prominent attorney Jimmy Faircloth, Governor Jindal's former executive counsel, currently represents major landowner Roy O. Martin whose company is currently involved in legacy lawsuit litigation.

"I think this is a really difficult situation that is putting people in difficult positions, making difficult votes, because you have Jimmy Faircloth who is a good friend of the Governor's, a good friend of the administration, and it certainly puts us, the industry, at a disadvantage," stated Don Briggs, president of LOGA, before the statement was released.

"Whether they'll prevail or we will is hard to say."

The authors of the letter say it is their hope to remediate the polluted sites to the best of their ability, but that under existing law they are sometimes prevented from doing so.

The associations also expressed concern that energy industry investors have already backed out of the state because of the economic climate being inhibited by legacy lawsuits.

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