NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana Supreme Court filed an order June 24, in regards to well-established tort lawyer Daniel E. Becnel Jr. to transfer him to disability inactive status due to his struggles with health issues.
Becnel is a high-profile trial lawyer from LaPlace. In a 2010 Bloomberg profile , Becnel was described as a lawyer who "represented in some of the highest-profile class actions in American history, from fen-phen diet pills and Big Tobacco to Dow Corning breast implants," as well as the Toyota sudden-acceleration cases and in 2010, he was one of the leading plaintiff attorneys in the class-action litigation stemming from the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
In mid-December 2015, it was reported Becnel was is in the hospital in critical condition. His wife, Judge Mary Hotard Becnel, confirmed he was admitted into the hospital Dec. 14.
Becnel, 71, has suffered for 15 years from leukemia, said Mary Becnel, a judge in the 40th Judicial District Court.
Becnel has struggled with health issues for quite some time, even prior to cancer. He donated a kidney to his brother more than two decades ago, and in 2010 he told The New York Times the surgery also had left him with lasting health problems.
On top of his reputation as a prominent tort lawyer, he is also known for running in the 2015 St. John the Baptist Parish presidential race, where he narrowly lost to incumbent Natalie Robottom.
Becnel told Louisiana Record in Septemeber 2015 he did not want to run for the position of St. John the Baptist Parish President, but he felt it was necessary.
“This is a crusade for me,” Becnel said.
He has also been active on the local level, filing a class action lawsuit against St. John the Baptist Parish last year after the parish water supply was found to be contaminated by a brain-eating amoeba.
“I don’t know why I want to do this damn job,” Becnel said. “I just want people to have jobs and have work and be healthy.”
Becnel purported to be the largest individual taxpayer in the parish and says he is tired of seeing his and fellow citizens' tax money squandered by their leaders. In many interviews, Becnel has never been shy about how well he has done, how good he is at what he does and whom he knows. He also prides himself on working simply because he loves his job.
"I'm probably one of the few people in the country who doesn't accept his Social Security," Becnel said in a Bloomberg article. "I could retire but I don't because I just love the work."
In a previous Louisiana Record article, Becnel said he goes to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center once a month for chemotherapy treatment but he always dismisses any concerns about his health.
“I’m the only person they’ve ever seen at MD Anderson walk in there for treatment, walk out of there after treatment, and then try a case the next day," he said.
Despite Bencel’s resilience and passion for the law, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered the disability active status.
“Considering the petition for transfer to disability inactive status filed by the curatrix for [Becnel], and the response thereto filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, it is ordered that Daniel E. Becnel Jr. …be and he hereby is transferred to disability inactive status pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 22(A) for an indefinite period and until further order of this court. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 26(E), this order shall be effective immediately,” the order said.