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Levee Board's Lead Attorney Explains Why He Took On Oil And Gas Lawsuit

Laine Kaplan-Levenson

On Tuesday, November 18, environmental reporter Bob Marshall of The Lens sat down with Gladstone Jones, the lead attorney in the lawsuit against oil and gas companies for coastal damages.

Gladstone Jones signed his contract with the levee board based on a sliding scale. The 16 lawyers on the levee board’s legal team will be paid between 22-32 percent, depending on the amount recovered.

"Actually, it’s much lower than what we usually do for private landowners," said Jones. "Normally those fees are around 40 percent of the gross recovery."

If it goes to court and the levee board loses, Jones and his firm gets nothing. So why did he take this lawsuit on? Jones explains.

“It is an utter failure of government for failing to enforce these permits and rights that these oil companies had and these obligations to clean up their different areas. So what ends up happening is these private landowners — not being able to rely upon the governmental agencies to come out and make oil companies do the right thing — they end up hiring us as private counsel to go prosecute the case.”

The next court date is December 10, when U.S. District Judge Nanette Brown will determine whether the lawsuit is constitutional and will go to trial.

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Kabacoff Family Foundation.

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