A Louisiana attorney has filed a federal class action lawsuit against several national law firms, accusing them of breach of contract, professional malpractice and fraud related to their involvement in representing victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Thibodeaux attorney Jerald Block filed the lawsuit in May alleging that the national firms saw the spill as an opportunity to make a "quick buck" and prioritized that goal over representing their clients' interests. The suit names firms in Texas, California and Mississippi as defendants. The firms formed a joint venture in 2015.
The suit covers recreational fishermen, who the out-of-state firms solicited as clients in order to pursue claims against BP following the spill.
Block says those firms did not provide proper representation in relation to those claims.
"If you had a recreational fishing license, then you were eligible to recover from BP under the settlement program. They accepted those people as clients, but they didn't file their claims," Block said. "They left the clients hanging high and dry."
The suit seeks to compensate victims based on the amount they originally sought when they hired the defendants to file their claims.
"The claims go from somewhere near $5,000 for some of them to $75,000 for others," Block said.
While hundred of claimants have joined the suit, Block said it's too early in the process to know just how many plaintiffs will come forward, but he expects the number to be "significant."
"We think it'll be in the thousands," Block said.
Block said it's unfortunate that victims of the spill were again victimized by the alleged malpractice.
"Not only were they treated in such a way that they thought their claims were being handled, but when they followed up over the years to say 'what's going on?' they were told their claim was pending," Block said.