29 May 2014

 I got this in my email today. Below is my response.

May 29, 2014
RE: SLFPA-E Lawsuit / SB 469
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I would like to thank you for your e-mail and calls regarding SB 469, which seeks to abolish the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East (SLFPA-E) lawsuit against numerous oil and gas companies. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to provide me with your input.
Secondly, please allow me to explain why I support SB 469, as it stands in its current form:
 The plaintiff in the law suit, SLFPA-E, is a flood protection authority. Its primary function is to operate and maintain levees. It does not construct coastal restoration projects along Louisiana’s entire coast. In fact, most of our costal restoration projects are outside of SLFPA-E’s geographical jurisdiction. As a result, SLFPA-E is not the proper plaintiff for this type of law suit. However, the State of Louisiana, a Parish or the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority (CPRA) would be the proper party to bring this type of law suit.
 SLFPA-E is only one of approximately thirty (30) levee authorities across the State. Therefore, if SLFPA-E would win the lawsuit, which could potentially result in a $100 Billion judgment, SLFPA-E would receive all the money. I believe if any judgment is obtained, it should be obtained by the State, the Parishes or the CPRA so any recovery could be used for coastal restoration in accordance with the State's Coastal Master Plan.
 As a subdivision of the state, the SLFPA-E Board did not have the authority to hire counsel and file a lawsuit. Specifically, pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act, SLFPA-E is not one of the enumerated entities granted the capacity to file such a law suit.
 The questionable arrangement which allows a contingency fee contract by SLFPA-E’s trial lawyers could result in a multi-billion dollar recovery by the lawyers. I believe any lawsuit should by pursued by attorneys on an hourly fee basis to maximize any recover by the State to be used to fund the Coastal Master Plan.
 Finally, the Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana (ALBL), comprised of nearly two dozen levee districts in Louisiana, opposes the law suit filed by SLFPA-E. The ALBL stated the SLFPA-E law suit “could adversely affect other on-going efforts related to coastal protection and restoration and community resiliency.” Furthermore, SLFPA-E failed to coordinate its law suit with ALBL members, even though the “lawsuit asserts claims and seeks remedies that affect the majority of ALBL [and] implicates the interests of a majority of ALBL members.”
Once again, thank you for sharing your position with me. I hope you can better understand my reasons for supporting SB 469 in its current form. Although we might not always agree, I do value your opinion.
Nicholas J. Lorusso

Dear Representative

Thank you for your recent letter about SB 469. Allow me to point how you are wrong about it.

You are right that that the state of Louisiana or the CPRA should have brought suit against the oil and gas companies for the damage they have done to the wetlands and for defaulting on their contract to repair the damage they inflicted. The state and the CPRA abrogated their sworn duty to protect the state and its citizens, so the SLFPA-E is certainly a proper plaintiff for the law suit. The destruction of the wetlands impairs the maintenance  of the levees.

Of the 30 levee authorities in Louisiana, only a very few are impacted by the destruction of the wetlands. The money from any judgement would go to restoring the entire coastline, not just the part that impacts the SLFPA-E.

The court allowed the SLFPA-E to pursue its lawsuit and so recognized the right of the board to sue. Why else was SB 469 deemed necessary?

As for the contingency fee contract for the plaintiff’s lawyers, it is really the only way it could be done. Levee Boards do not have a cadre of lawyers to properly conduct such a large and complex suit.

I do not think this will change your mind, but I wanted to assure you that not everyone is so gullible.


John-Christopher Ward