Attorney sued by client for legal malpractice over alleged mishandling of BP claim

By Louisiana Record reports | Feb 5, 2014

GRETNA – A local attorney and law office are being sued by a client who had a claim against BP for damages stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Richard J. Mock filed suit against Joseph Douglas Sunseri, The Law Office of Nicaud and Sunseri LLC and their insurer in the 24th Judicial District Court on Jan. 20.

Mock claims that on Oct. 16, 2012 he inquired with attorney Douglas Sunseri of The Law Office of Nicaud and Sunseri about representing him in a claim against British Petroleum related to damages his business as commercial fisherman and owner of two commercial fishing vessels received due to the oil spill. On Nov. 15, 2012 the plaintiff asserts he was contacted by email by a paralegal working for the defendant notifying him that he would need to fill out forms to determine his eligibility for damages under the Seafood Compensation Claims fund set up by BP to settle damages with local fishermen, which he took to mean that Sunseri was acting as his counsel. Mock alleges that he forwarded to the law firm proof of income from 2007 to 2011 as well as completed client contact sheet and on Dec. 14, 2012 was contacted by Sunseri’s office who notified him he was automatically eligible for a settlement claim.

The plaintiff claims that on Jan. 3, 2013 he was made aware via email from the defendant’s office that he had passed a causation test for his BP claim after which he attempted to contact them via phone to no avail. On Jan. 23, 2013 the day after the deadline to file a claim under the Seafood Fund has passed, Mock was again unable to contact Sunseri and the following day he filed a pro se claim on his own only to be later informed on Sept. 27, 2013 that both the pro se claim and the claim handled by Sunseri were denied because they were filed after the deadline.

The defendant is accused of legal malpractice for failing to inform the plaintiff of the impending deadline to file a claim of communicating any other issues about his cases and suffering the loss of two valuable claims.

Damages are sought for the plaintiff for lost opportunity to pursue settlement claims.

Mock is represented by Covington-based attorney Jacques F. Bezou Jr.

The case has been assigned to Division E Judge John J. Molaison Jr.

Case no. 734-793.

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