Another joint public hearing expected Monday on legacy lawsuit reform

Kyle Barnett Apr. 20, 2012, 11:23am


BATON ROUGE – A joint public hearing of the natural resources committees from the House and Senate is expected to take place on April 23 for the second Monday in a row.

Dr. David Dismukes, author of a study that linked legacy lawsuits to a statewide economic loss of $6.8 billion over the past eight years, is expected to be called to speak.

Legislators met in a similar committee on April 16 to discuss lawsuits between oil and gas companies and landowners who claim their land was polluted during energy extraction.

The hearing will not concern any one piece of legislation, but will be used to bring forth ideas with the hope of coming to a compromise on the contentious issue.

Melissa Landry of Lousiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch said these types of hearings are rarely seen in Baton Rouge.

"It is very unusual," said Landry. "Though they do it in Congress all the time."

The last joint public hearing was called by Senator Gerald Long who is sponsoring a bill the industry opposes.

Since that hearing, the House Civil Law Committee passed HB618, sponsored by Rep. Neil Abramson, which would allow the Department of Natural Resources to approve the plan to evaluate and clean up polluted sites once a company admits liability in court.

Abramson had an ethics violation complaint filed against him the following day by plaintiff attorney Don Carmouche who has handled more than 100 legacy lawsuits on behalf of landowners.

More News