Tag Archives: environmental law

Investing In Lawsuits, Part III: Here Come The Banks and Hedge Funds

On Sunday, the New York Times returned to third-party funding of lawsuits with "Investors Put Money on Lawsuits to Get Payouts:" Large banks, hedge funds and private investors hungry for new and lucrative opportunities are bankrolling other people’s lawsuits, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into medical malpractice claims, divorce battles and class actions against corporations — all in the hope of sharing in the potential winnings. ... Total investments in lawsuits at any given time now exceed $1 billion, several industry participants estimated. Although no figures are available on the number of lawsuits supported by lenders, public records from ... Continue Reading

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Why Hold Plaintiffs’ Lawyers To A Different Standard Than Oil Companies?

It's no secret that oil companies like Chevron play hard ball; just a few years ago, Chevron paid $30 million to settle allegations that it had bribed Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq to participate in the UN's oil-for-food program. As most readers know, down in Ecuador Chevron is defending a civil case over alleged contamination of dozens of villages in the Lago Agrio; it's no surprise there has been "a fierce lobbying effort by Chevron in Washington to strip Ecuador of American trade preferences" because the Ecuadorian President has expressed support for the Lago Agrio villagers. Chevron similarly launched a ... Continue Reading

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Chevron Allowed To Depose Plaintiff’s Counsel In Ecuador Toxic Tort Litigation

At The American Lawyer: A federal judge in Manhattan has taken the extraordinary step of granting Chevron's motion to depose a counsel for its adversaries in the massive toxic tort litigation over oil contamination in Lago Agrio, Ecuador. ... Kaplan based his ruling on evidence Chevron produced from outtakes of the documentary "Crude," which chronicles the Lago Agrio case. He called the outtakes "extraordinarily revealing." "The outtakes contain substantial evidence that Donziger and others were involved in ex parte contacts with the court to obtain appointment of the expert; met secretly with the supposedly neutral and impartial expert prior to ... Continue Reading

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Kenneth Feinberg Should Disclose More About His Compensation For Administering The BP Fund

Kenneth Feinberg, whose pro bono publico work in the 9/11 Compensation Fund was widely lauded, is back again administering the $20 billion BP Compensation Fund and is in the middle of a publicity tour on the Gulf of Mexico. C-SPAN just posted a video of him discussing the Fund and his work on it this morning. Unlike with the 9/11 Fund, though, this time Feinberg is getting paid, and that raises a few questions. Nobody questions Feinberg's integrity, but the whole point of having a nation of law, not men, is to make everyone accountable to that law, and Professor ... Continue Reading

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The Devil’s Advocate Argument In Favor Of Judge Feldman’s Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

Judicial supremacy made an unexpected comeback this week with Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana, a "fair" and "terrifying" judge (who, for what it's worth, dismissed one of my cases a few months ago — no hard feelings), granting an injunction against the Secretary of the Interior from enforcing the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater oil drilling because the moratorium was "arbitrary and capricious:" After reviewing the Secretary’s Report, the Moratorium Memorandum, and the Notice to Lessees, the Court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium. The ... Continue Reading

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BP Blows Smoke Over Amending The Oil Pollution Act

Some background: the Oil Pollution Act establishes strict liability for anyone who spills oil, but limits that liability in the case of offshore rigs to $75 million per spill, plus removal costs. Congress has contemplated removing those caps for the BP spill and all future spills. Over at the National Law Journal, David Ingram reports that BP, in addition to spilling oil and other substances all over the Gulf of Mexico, is now blowing smoke in the Washington, DC vicinity: A private consultant for energy companies told Congress on Tuesday that any effort to rewrite oil spill liability laws retroactively would ... Continue Reading

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The Many Ways To Sue BP, Halliburton, Transocean and Cameron For Polluting The Gulf Coast With Oil

Did Halliburton improperly cement the drill hole at Deepwater Horizon? Did Transocean fail to activate the blowout preventer — or were the shear rams too weak to crimp pipes designed for deepwater drilling? Why didn't BP have any contingency planning in place for a spill of this magnitude? Whatever the cause, my hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, already smells like crude oil, and the oil itself is on the way. That wasn't supposed to happen, not in a supposedly high-tech, sophisticated, safety-conscious industry with redundant environmental protections in place. So what next? If you've been affected, you don't need a lawyer ... Continue Reading

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