Jindal's ties to trial bar noted
A collection of national news outlets have taken an interest in Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's relationship with trial lawyers, according to a report today in PoliticalDesk.com.
The article comes as state legislators are fiercely debating "legacy lawsuits," an issue which pits landowners – or the trial bar - against the oil and gas industry over how cleanup of environmental damage from drilling years ago should be handled.
Jindal was criticized last week by U.S. Senator David Vitter over what he called Jindal's lack of leadership in the legacy lawsuit debate.
Vitter said Jindal has been supportive of trial lawyers who represent landowners.
Critics of the trial bar say plaintiffs' lawyers try to game the system and extract inflated settlements from defendant companies.
A reform measure that cleared a House committee this week would resolve one of the energy industry's complaints that anyone who owns land that was formerly used for drilling, whether polluted or not, could benefit from filing a lawsuit without having to prove damages.
The PoliticalDesk report notes The Politico's reporting of a $5,000 per couple fundraiser Jindal "pulled off" last year with American Association of Justice Vice President Burton LeBlanc.
LeBlanc - a shareholder in the Dallas firm Baron & Budd – was hired by Jindal last year as special counsel on behalf of the state in the BP oil spill litigation.
The PoliticalDesk also cites a Forbes magazine article that questioned Jindal's hiring of Baron & Budd for the BP case.
"While most Republicans are known for their hands-off approach to relationships with trial lawyers, Gov. Bobby Jindal has managed to develop close ties with the bunch without upsetting his base," the PoliticalDesk story states.
The article lists trial lawyer contributions to Jindal from 2008 through 2011 that total nearly $300,000.