Saturday, April 18, 2015

DHECC - Freeh takes a page from the PSC handbook and asks to hide behind Barbier's robe

Louis Freeh has just filed a motion to dismiss Christine Reitano's defamation suit against him and the Freeh Group.

Reitano was falsely accused by Freeh of helping her husband, Lionel Sutton, expedite a claim in the DHECC which he purportedly had a financial interest in per a referral fee arrangement with the Andry Lerner law firm.

I have no doubt Judge Barbier will dismiss the suit but I want to point out a major fallacy in Freeh's current motion and its implications:

"In her Complaint, Reitano emphasizes that the September 2013 Report was made available on the Internet. See Comp. at 4 (“The defendants began their damage to Ms. Reitano in September, 2013, by publishing on the internet . . . .”);  5 (“The defendants published a report on the internet . . . .”);  13 (“The defendants published their accusations on the internet to be sure that the broadcast of the accusations was of the widest proportions.”). Yet that act does not place the Special Master outside the protection of absolute judicial immunity. After all, federal district court case filings are widely available on the Internet as a matter of course through the PACER electronic filing system. Filings on the MDL docket are electronically shared with hundreds of people by email with every filing.Further, public distribution of the Report was important to fulfilling the Court’s mandate to the Special Master of ensuring the integrity of the CSSP by assuring claimants of the validity and fairness of the process for distributing billions of dollars held in trust for the benefit of those harmed by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. See Doc. Rec. 10564 at 2 (appointing the Special Master to “ensure the integrity of [the CSSP] for the benefit of the parties and the public”); Order & Reasons at 22 (noting that fraud against the CSSP concerned “issues of great moment to the public” and “involve[d] far more than an injury to a single litigant”); http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/OilSpill/OilSpill.htm (posting the Report on the judicial website established to keep the public informed on the Deepwater Horizon MDL). Nothing about Internet publication changes the application of an absolute judicial immunity for Freeh and FGIS."
The issue is not that it was published on Pacer or as a public court document, the issue is that Louis Freeh ran the report up the flagpole on his own private company's website, The Freeh Group and Pepper Hamilton. There it stayed for months, basically as an advertisement for Freeh's wonderful investigation technics (which we now know were devastatingly erroneous and fatal to Reitano's reputation).  Inspector Clouseau and team later figured out it probably wasn't such a good idea to be waving this thing around as an example of their work.

By doing this, Freeh removed the report from the confines of the U.S. Court system and brought it into the private arena.  He did this, no doubt, to enterprise on the international media exposure and hullabaloo the report had created due to BP's massive PR machine using the allegations within it to paint Reitano, Sutton and Andry Lerner as examples of a corrupt settlement.

Freeh, himself, was the one who took the report outside the confines of the court for his own private gain....now he wants to hide behind Barbier's robe?  Priceless.

This is called justice?  You can destroy an innocent woman's life with a slipshod investigation and then shirk responsibility by claiming indemnity under the protection of the court?

Think about the fucking precedent this sets.

As I stated before, The Freeh Group is essentially acting as a white-collar Blackwater....a private company being paid obscene amounts of cash to conduct public investigations on behalf of the U.S. Courts.  If this private company had a vested interest, a corporate interest, in destroying the reputation of a private individual, a competing company....basically anyone they wish....they can do so with full immunity provided by the federal government.  Hell...these guys are ten times worse than Blackwater....they're government-shielded character assassins.

Unfortunately, we're most likely about to watch Barbier rubber stamp this chimera into existence.

For more background on the Freeh Group and Pepper Hamilton's connections with BP:

American Zombie: DHECC - Freeh's interests may not be so free

Friday, April 17, 2015

DHECC - In Hale Scoreboard, April 17, 2014

Steve Herman and crew are currently donning their finest Joe Isuzu imitation to convince the court, and everyone, that the DHECC is doing a fine job.

Unfortunately for them numbers don't lie:

A settlement designed to compensate hundreds of thousands falls short.

86,334 Denied claimants.
59,028 Unique claimants paid.

DWH Status updates from April 1, 2015 thru April 16, 2015 the claim center numbers. 

Payments to 1046 new unique claimants paid break down as follows.

18 Seafood 
12 IEL
0 Festival Vendors
423 BEL
12 Start ups
1 Failed Business
88 Coastal Claims
18 Wetland
8 Real Property sales
499 Subsistence
1 VoO
1 Vessel damage

Total new Denials 316

47 Eligible with no payment
19 Exclusion Denials
53 Prior GCCF Release Denials
78 Causation Denials
119 Other Denials

This is a first after mailing out the deadline notice the incomplete denials that reached a high of 49,283 on April 10 have been reduced.

-519 Incomplete Denials cured, re-filed or re-tracked due to Court Vendors found error.

And then we have the appeals BP has appealed some new offers even as they run those ads telling the world they are committed to the Gulf. 

505 Appeals pending unresolved.
68 New appeals filed.
211 Under Discretionary Court Review the next Black Hole.

IN-HALE 

Also, check out this article at Law 360 if you can, I can't reprint the article because it's behind a paywall:

Deepwater Class Payments At "Abysmal" Levels, Court Told

And this comment bump and link from Anon:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Bayou Cornehole - How deep does it go?": 

Plaintiffs' Steering Committee And BP Finalize Settlement 


NEW ORLEANS, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC) leading the litigation surrounding the 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill today announced that it has finalized its settlement with BP.

"The people and businesses of the Gulf Coast stand to reap great benefits from these settlements," said Plaintiffs' Co-Liaison Counsel, James P. Roy and Stephen J. Herman. "We have held BP fully accountable for the Deepwater Horizon tragedy less than two years after the spill. Through extensive arms-length, good faith negotiations, hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents and businesses will be made whole."

The methodologies and protocols implemented by the Court Supervised Oil Spill Settlement Program are agreed to by the proposed Class and BP. The frameworks for compensation are transparent and provide proposed Class members with great flexibility in determining the amount of their damages. The frameworks are designed to allow proposed Class members to calculate their claims in a manner that provides the best result for them or their business. Further, the Claims Administrator has a duty to work with proposed Class members to ensure that they are receiving the entirety of what they are owed.

"The medical settlement will provide hundreds of thousands with the care they so desperately need, and through the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, bolster the region's healthcare infrastructure for years to come," said Roy and Herman.


The things puppets say: 

“Hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents and businesses will be made whole."

"The medical settlement will provide hundreds of thousands with the care they so desperately need”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Voldemort! There....I said it.....

A big congratulations to Nola.com commenter, TruthExposed, for somehow managing to get past their commenting wizardry and successfully name he who must not be named.


Thread here.

I know lots of you tried and failed but thanks for playing anyway.  I have a hunch TruthExposed's success was a single stroke of luck and the magical NOLA.com spell which makes any comment mentioning you know who simply vanish is still in place.

What a powerful wizard one must be to force the Daily Prophet, I mean Nola.com, to dare not speak his name.   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bayou Cornehole - How deep does it go?

First, I want to make a comment bump:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Bayou Corne - Comment Bump, Thursday, April 9 2015...": 

Calvin Fayard is on so many PSC/Class Counsels such as the Galveston Oil Spill, BP, this one here and others that one must wonder how many hours are in his day, 24 would not be enough. The pattern of poor notice, exaggerated settlement amounts vs. reality, and complete lack of transparency seems to be widespread. I expect that there will be plenty of objections filed against the BP Class Counsel fees. Too many good attorneys are watching and very pissed about the game being played. The PSC game of hide the ball and collect $600,000,000 as long as you fight to PRESERVE a horrible Class Settlement that looks as though BP drafted it w/o input from any Plaintiff's attorneys! 

All salient points but the real issue, even above the hidden billing methods, is what level of collusion is going on with the Good Ole' Boys and their oil and gas industry defendants.  I've already shown evidence of this in the Wisner story but I think the Bayou Corne case could be even worse.  

Here's why...

On Monday I sent the following questions to A. Shelby Easterly, III, the court Special Master in the Bayou Corne settlement:

- What is your current and past relationship with Connie M. Easterly, an employee of Kean Miller who publicly lists employment (connie.easterly@keanmiller.com) with Kean Miller, the law firm representing Texas Brine in the Bayou Corne settlement?  

- Were you in contact with Ms. Connie M. Easterly during the litigation period for Bayou Corne and at any point did you discuss the case with her?  

- Did you disclose to the court any relationship, present our past, that you had with Ms. Connie M. Easterly before you were chosen as Special Master for the Bayou Corne case?

- Did Calvin Fayard disclose to you, and/or, were you aware that James E. Kuhn, who served as council for Texas Brine was a former law partner of Mr. Fayard's? 

Predictably, I received no response.

I believe Connie M. Easterly is the former, possibly current, wife of Shelby Easterly.  I don't know if this officially constitutes a conflict of interest but I would think it should have been disclosed to the court before he applied for the Special Master position.  

But then again, in this state a judge could get caught in the sack with a juror and it would be overlooked.  Now a judge, a prosecuting attorney and a juror....that ménage à trois may raise eyebrows...maybe.  

Also note that Calvin Fayard was formerly a law partner of one of Texas Brine's current attorneys,  James E. "Jimmy" Kuhn.  Kuhn also served as a judge for Louisiana's First Circuit Court of Appeals. 

According to a 2014 article from The Hayride (which I will begrudgingly link to) , Kuhn actually wrote the opinion from the First Circuit which absolved Fayard of campaign finance violations revolving around his daughter, Caroline's, run for Lt. Governor back in 2010.  

Clearly Kuhn should have recused himself in that case but...hey...it's Looziana.  We're so bad, Harvard couldn't even measure us on their corruption scale.

You see....in our state it's very clear that some people are not only above the law....they actually own it.



Sidebar:  Hey!  I need all of you to do me a favor....to help me conduct an experiment, if you will.  Go to Nola.com...oh let's say.....here.  And type in the following comment:

Where does Fred Heebe come in to play on all this?

Just cut and paste that sentence into a comment....or make up your own comment but make sure you have "Fred Heebe" in there.

Get back to me on the results....as in did the comment actually make it through.  You can post the results in this post's comment thread.  Gracias amigos/amigas.   

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Bayou Corne - Comment Bump, Thursday, April 9 2015 - The same old song and dance

Kevin has left a new comment on your post "DHECC - Comment Bump, April 7, 2015 - Another snap...": 

Me, a non-lawyer, non-attorney, attended the first part of the "hearing" today where the 15 or so class members in the courtroom were allowed the opportunity to express their concerns, as best they could, to the court and the 20+ lawyers. I believe only 9 class members actually spoke on the record.

My personal, non-lawyer, lay person observations and personal opinions:

The judge started everything off with a prepared summary of high points of the litigation and settlement. His voice seemed shaky and strained at times, like his throat was closing. He seemed nervous. 

Too much to cover here - the transcript will be worth the price.

He said, since the article ran in the Louisiana Record, his office received numerous telephone calls from class members who said they would have objected to the attorney fee motion had they been given notice that it was filed. The judge said the original notice of the settlement and fairness hearing had some language in there about how the attorneys were going to eventually ask for 25% of the fund to cover fees. This notice, given some 8 or 9 months before the actual filing of the actual motion for attorney fees, was considered by the court to be adequate. The judge reminded everyone, especially the 9 vocal opponents, that nobody filed objections before the deadline in June or July of last year. 

The judge made a point of saying that the court, the special master and the lawyers followed the law in this matter, specifically class action law. Personally, I, a non-lawyer, disagree with that statement and would ask the court if it and the special master looked at Rule 23(h) and the recent caselaw on when notice of the filing of the actual fee motion must be given to the class members. How can people file objections to fee awards and expense reimbursements when they haven't seen any legal or factual argument supporting the award of those fees, and when they haven't seen any evidence to support the number of hours being billed and the legitimacy of the expenses being claimed? The cart was put before the horse!

The judge also sang the praises of Shelby Easterly and cited from Easterly's CV several class action cases where he had served as a special master or deputy special master or expert. I lost count of how many were cases where Calvin Fayard was also class counsel.

There was a moment when the judge was having trouble finding some specific language in the notice sent to the class members last year. One of the class members in the back row said "... and he expects us to understand that shit!"

1 issue raised by the class members was the fact that appraisals were performed for their property, yet they were never allowed to see or have copies of the appraisals until after the fairness hearing. One class member said he had to secretly take pics of his appraisal with his phone or I-Pad when his class counsel attorney came to his home to convince him why he should take the settlement and not opt out of the class. This class member said he found the appraisal failed to include all of his property - about $100k worth.

There was an objection by this same class member and others about the fact the class counsel contracted for the appraisals, but did not allow the class members to see the appraisals until after the fairness hearing. One said the majority of the class was forced to settle without ever receiving a copy of their appraisals.

They said they were misled by class counsel who gave them private settlement numbers before they ever received an offer from the special master, and long after the deadline to opt out of the settlement. When the special master sent their offers, some were as much as 50% less than what class counsel told them they would receive without any problem.

They said they were told by their counsel (class counsel) they could not object to the court about their allocation. They had to object to Easterly. They were told that Easterly may cut their settlement offers to zero if they went forward with objections.

They said they felt they were manipulated into not opting out of the settlement by the larger, unofficial figures given them by the lawyers. They were told that the settlement would go away if too many people opted out.

The class members also complained that they didn't know there was an "opt-out reserve" where part of the $48.1 million settlement was put aside in a separate account to try to settle with those people who did opt out of the settlement. 

For the majority of the 9 who openly expressed their concerns, the judge read aloud the amounts they received from the settlement for their property, subsistence while evacuated, etc. This definitely had the effect of pissing off other class members when they heard the amounts other had received. I personally think it also deterred others from saying their piece.

After the class members had their say, the judge sent them and class counsel across the hall to another courtroom to "vent" and try to work some of this out.


I left.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

DHECC - Comment Bump, April 7, 2015 - Another snapshot of the Louisiana Good Ole' Boy network

Kevin has left a new comment on your post "The Good Ole' Boys": 

Looking at Shelby Easterly's supplemental disclosure, he says he served as counsel for Calvin C. Fayard, Jr. and D. Blayne Honeycutt in “a civil matter” that concluded some 9 years ago. Yet, he doesn’t bother to disclose the identity of any parties, the docket number or even the court where the civil matter was filed. Nor does he disclose the nature of the matter. 

I guess he expected that the court and all the parties to the Sinkhole litigation had already read the article in the Louisiana Record which somewhat identified a New Orleans suit against Fayard and Honeycutt where Easterly defended his friends against allegations that Fayard failed to pay another class action lawyer what he was owed; that Fayard allegedly breached written agreements on fees; and, a few other allegations about the kind of stuff a special master might have to get involved with in a class action settlement.

“A civil matter” ordinarily means 1 civil matter; right?

Whether by design or not, Easterly failed to disclose another civil matter in which he represented Calvin C. Fayard, Jr. He left out the fact he represented Fayard against a class action brought by the same class action attorney who filed suit against Fayard and Honeycutt in New Orleans. The suit in Baton Rouge (05-265, Middle District of Louisiana) involved allegations of mishandling the Defined Benefit Program (retirement funds) for the Fayard law firm employees. I’m emailing Jason a copy of the Answer filed by Easterly as attorney for Fayard.

Also, Easterly did other work for Fayard on the Defined Benefit Program. I'm emailing Jason a letter I received via FedEx from Easterly in late-2005. I redacted the personal info. Notice he mentions Carolyn Mistoler by name in the letter. She's Fayard's bookkeeper. Easterly knows her well, as I’ll explain below.

Fayard has previously billed Mistoler's time and expenses to class action cases as a paralegal. She had no education, training or experience that would qualify her as a paralegal. The work she did in those cases was not paralegal work and didn’t benefit the class. Fayard billed for several secretarial and other staff members as paralegals to class action cases to be reimbursed at the higher pay rates.

That might be an avenue for the Bayou Corne objectors to pursue, although I have a feeling it will be rejected out of hand. If I were them, I would ask the court to allow me to examine the billing records to see if Fayard billed staff and bookkeepers as paralegals or other higher-paying positions, and whether or not the Special Master approved this. I would ask for proof of their education, training and experience as a paralegal or law clerk or whatever. Fayard billed me as a law clerk to 1 case even though I’ve never been to law school.

If I were these Bayou Corne residents, I would ask the judge and all the attorneys in the courtroom the following: If you received a notice from a lawyer in a case that said, at some unknown date in the future, s/he was going to file an important pleading asking the court to approve payment of fees that are going to come out of your client’s funds, would you accept that notice as adequate and sufficient enough to protect your client’s rights and to prepare any response to that pleading without any further notice, and without ever having a chance to review that important pleading? They all know the answer is “no.” That’s what happened to class members here with the fee motion.

One more thing about the Easterly and Fayard relationship the Special Master possibly should have disclosed.

Train Car, LLC. It was an LLC created in 2004 by Easterley's then-wife, Connie, and another employee. They made Carolyn Mistoler, Fayard's bookkeeper, the Manager of the LLC. They used the Fayard law office address as the address for the LLC. Shelby Easterly notarized/signed the documents. I’m sending Jason a copy of those, too.

On the same date Train Car, LLC was formed, there was another document signed by Easterly that designated W. Hugh Sibley as an "agent" of the LLC with the authority to bind the LLC, borrow against its assets, sell its assets, etc. Sibley was actually using the LLC to bank the money he was using to build an enormous mansion in Hammond. 

Some of you may remember reading news articles in 2009 or 2010 about Sibley laundering cocaine money for the cartel. He owed Harrah's Entertainment millions in gambling debts in 2004 - they even filed a lien or intervention in a class action case because Sibley had assigned his fees in several cases to Harrah’s. Sibley also owed the IRS millions at the time. Fayard and Mistoler were aware of these problems.

In fact, the IRS just happened to issue liens to several financial institutions when Hugh was about to transfer some money to the LLC account from his personal account. Through ensuing litigation, the IRS learned of the connections between all the people involved with Train Car, LLC. Once informed by the IRS that their relationships were going to be the subject of discovery and fact testimony, Carolyn Mistoler suddenly removed her name from the records, the address of the LLC was changed from Fayard’s office to Hugh’s office in Greensburg, and the IRS suit was settled.


Calvin: why don't you tell the readers the story about the lessons you learned from "Old Mr. Easterly" like to one about the kind of people who should do yard work?

Believe me, this is just scraping the surface of the "Good Ol' Boy Network".  The real dirty is these guys' relationships with federal judges from Haik to Barbier.

This Bayou Corne settlement is just one more notch in Fayard and company's belt and yet one more glaring example of the level of corruption that permeates this state's judicial system.

Do we have corrupt politicians in Louisiana?  A big Sarah Palin "You betcha!"  But the corruption among our pols is lilliputian in contrast to what's happening sub rosa in our courts.