Many observers say Louisiana has long invited a legal climate that thrives off of lawsuits, as trial attorneys seek out legal battles that are attached to large settlements for personal gain.
Now, Terrebonne Parish, an area that depends heavily upon the oil and gas industry for its jobs and economy, is being threatened with damage assessments that claim operations by the energy industry are causing damages to the environment.
In an op-ed written by Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch director Lana Venable and published by Watchdog, Venable calls attention to a plan involving the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, an entity that is now appointing the parish district attorney to conducting the assessments, which would make the parish less inviting to the oil and gas industries.
Venable, who believes the approach being taken in this situation is a sign of the selfishness of the lawsuit culture in Louisiana, said this is a dangerous precedent, though it is unlikely the action will stand.
“The state is treading into dangerous territory by forcing the hand of the locals who have no intent to sign on to the coastal lawsuits,” Venable told Louisiana Record.
Fortunately for the oil and gas industries, Terrebonne’s local leaders seem to have no interest in pursuing the litigation, Venable explains in her piece.
“Local leadership in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes have made it abundantly clear that they support jobs – not lawsuits,” Venable said.
Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove won’t back an agenda that is singling out the energy industry and Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle feels similarly. As made clear in Venable’s op-ed, LLAW’s beliefs are closely aligned with those of the parish as they believe coastal lawsuits ignore facts in order to railroad their agenda through.
While Venable believes regulations are needed to protect citizens, she says a lawsuit will never be an appropriate replacement for good policy