Parishes Sue Oil Companies


Suits were filed today by the Jefferson and Plaquemines parish councils against oil companies, alleging they violated the terms of their leases and drilling permits, thus causing land loss and saltwater intrusion. Twenty-seven suits have been filed in state courts against multiple defendant companies, 20 in Plaquemines and seven in Jefferson, according to Vic Marcello of Talbot, Carmouche and Marcello, the lead law firm in the legal action.

The suits are not as broadly drawn as the one against 97 oil companies filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, according to the attorney. “They are very narrowly tailored to address only violations of coastal zone regulations and the coastal zone statute and nothing else,” said Marcello.

Also unlike the flood protection authority suit, he said, the firms are not working on a contingency fee basis but under the provisions for attorney fees and costs in the coastal zone statute. The suits are based on the operational areas within each parish.

Marcello said the suits do not seek specific monetary damages but, rather, the remedies contained in the coastal zone statute.

The Carmouche firm of Donaldsonville has been the leading outfit in filing so-called legacy lawsuits mainly affecting onshore oilfield damages.

Representatives of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association had no comment on the suits at this time. Industry sources, however, fear that the suits by the two parishes will spur other coastal parishes, from Terrebonne and Lafourche to Cameron, to initiate their own legal action.

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