Posts Tagged ‘BP Transocean oil spill’

Mikal Watts acquitted in Gulf spill claims fraud case

“San Antonio plaintiffs’ attorney Mikal Watts was acquitted Thursday by a Mississippi federal jury of multiple fraud counts after federal prosecutors charged that he submitted the names of phony clients seeking to recover from the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” Two others associated with Watts’ firm were also cleared of charges. Watts, who represented himself at the trial, had argued that he was a victim of, rather than collaborator, in the wrongful practices of others who brought potential spill claimants in as clients for his firm. “The jury found several of the defendants Watts hired in Mississippi to gather clients guilty of the fraud allegations.” [Texas Lawyer]

Litigation funding, mass torts, and phantom clients

The Peter Thiel/Hulk Hogan story has brought the topic of litigation finance into the news, and a recent Alison Frankel column notes an alleged secret $10 million investment in the BP gulf spill case that might possibly have served as overstimulus: “Most of 40,000 seafood workers …turned out to be phantom clients…one, famously, was actually a dog.” [Reuters]

Environment roundup

  • Oh, George Takei, must you approvingly link to conspiracy site saying Zika virus microcephaly is caused by Monsanto? [archived]
  • Texas lawyer who blew GM trial sued over alleged BP compensation scam [Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg Business Week]
  • “Enviros Plan To Militantly Shutter World’s Major Coal Plants” [Daily Caller]
  • Obama administration has been on a tear imposing compulsory energy efficiency standards on consumer products, but a bill in Congress would halt that trend [Paul (“Chip”) Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels, Cato]
  • From the vaults: Ted Frank notes how historic preservation laws can lead owners to pre-emptively demolish a building for fear that exploring options to save it could lead opponents to organize and seek an injunction [Point of Law]
  • “Obscure Taxpayer-Funded Program Bankrolls Anti-Pipeline Activists” [Inside Sources]
  • Pressed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says Exxon’s claimed climate denial has been referred to FBI [Grist, I get a mention]

November 25 roundup

  • Mississippi federal indictments in Mikal Watts BP case include fraud charges (arising from multiple wire transfers) against man who a decade ago, when pastor of a Hammond, La. church, pleaded guilty to fraud charges arising from fen-phen client recruitment [Robin Fitzgerald, Biloxi Sun-Herald]
  • Critique of Madison Fund project proposed by Charles Murray in new book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, I get a mention [Philip Wallach, New Rambler Review, earlier on book]
  • “So You Had Sex With Charlie Sheen and Want to Sue: 5 Legal Hurdles” [Eric Turkewitz, Hollywood Reporter]
  • “[Online form provider] LegalZoom Fought the North Carolina Bar on claims of UPL and Won” [Ben Barton, BNA]
  • After prison escape manhunt: “‘Psychic’ Sues Governor Of New York For Reward Money” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
  • Suit challenges D.C.’s methods for seizing and disposing of houses over very small tax liens [Christina Martin and Todd Gaziano (Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed an amicus brief), Washington Post, earlier on business of tax liens here and here]
  • Change in patent venue rules sought: “EFF asks appeals court to ‘shut down the Eastern District of Texas'” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica, more on E.D. Tex.]

“That Time a Dog Claimed $46,000 in Damages From the BP Oil Spill”

Paul Barrett, Bloomberg/Washington Post, quotes the indictment:

On or about January 16, 2013 defendant MIKAL C. WATTS submitted or caused to be submitted a ‘Presentment Form’ to BP claiming ‘costs and damages’ in the amount of $45,930.00 in the name of ‘Lucy Lu’ and claiming ‘Lucy Lu’ was a deckhand on a commercial seafood vessel. ‘Lucy Lu’ was a dog.

More from Alison Frankel, Reuters, on the Texas lawyer’s “fighting for the little guy” rhetoric: “If Watts did what he’s alleged to have done, it’s no excuse that his crimes were committed in litigation against BP.”

Environment roundup

Schools roundup

Environment roundup

  • Safe Drinking Water Act along with other federal laws helped scare consumers away from public fountains and tap water, with unintended bad consequences for health and the environment [Kendra Pierre-Louis, Washington Post]
  • Austin, Tex. ban on plastic bags isn’t working out as intended [Adam Minter, Bloomberg View]
  • After BP’s $18.7 billion settlement with five Gulf states, here come huge private lawyer paydays [Louisiana Record]
  • Energy efficiency in durable goods: mandates “based on weak or nonexistent evidence of consumer irrationality” with government itself hardly free of behavioral biases [Tyler Cowen]
  • “How Trophy Hunting Can Save Lions” [Terry Anderson and Shawn Regan, PERC/WSJ]
  • CPSC’s hard line on CPSIA testing of natural materials in toys based on “precautionary principle run amuck” [Nancy Nord]
  • Is the ideal of sustainability one we ultimately owe to hunter-gatherers? [Arnold Kling]

Environmental roundup

  • “Environmental review makes it hard to do anything — even make a new bike lane” [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]
  • Outdoors education: don’t just treat nature as a museum for kids, let them play in it [Lenore Skenazy]
  • Not more outcry? “Philadelphia To Seize 1,330 Properties For Public Redevelopment” [Scott Beyer, more]
  • Influencing proceedings against Chevron: “Documents Reveal Ecuadorian Government Organized Protests on U.S. Soil” [Lachlan Markay, Free Beacon]
  • Inholders can be caught in maze of jurisdictional obstacles when attempting to challenge federal land takings, Nevada church deprived of former water use deserves a remedy [Ilya Shapiro, Cato on cert petition in Ministerio Roca Solida v. United States]
  • Touchy legacy for HUD today: New Deal housing programs advanced segregation, sometimes on purpose [Coyote]
  • Payouts in BP Gulf spill headed for $68 billion, much going to uninjured parties, sending message to overseas investors not to invest in US [Collin Eaton, San Antonio Express-News] Bad results in BP episode will help teach Takata and other mass tort defendants not to try the “right thing” again [Joseph Nocera, N.Y. Times]

Liability roundup

  • Analyzing the Norton Rose survey numbers: US business faced the most litigation, followed by UK, Canada had least [Above the Law, earlier]
  • Daimler doomsday? “Under the proposed law, any claim against a foreign company that registers with the New York secretary of state could be filed in New York courts, regardless of where the alleged wrongdoing took place or who was harmed.” [W$J, Alison Frankel last year, defense of bill]
  • BP Gulf spill: “Seafood companies owned by man previously convicted of fraud accused of perpetrating $3 million Deepwater Horizon fraud” [Louisiana Record]
  • “Facing Sanctions, Law Firm Tries To Block Interviews With Thalidomide Clients” [Daniel Fisher]
  • Litigation finance: speculator’s handling of Beirut car bombing payout raises eyebrows [W$J via Biz Insider]
  • “American Energy Companies Latest Victims of TCPA Lawsuit Abuse” [Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform] “FCC Has A New Robocall Ruling, And It Doesn’t Look Pretty for Business” [Henry Pietrkowski]
  • Bad US idea reaches Canada well after peaking here: “Tobacco companies ordered to pay $15B in damages” [CBC]