Friday, May 24, 2013

Pretzel litigation

Today, I was contacted by a legal eagle reader of AZ who is familiar with environmental law.  This person wanted to tip me off to an important factor regarding the "Loss of Natural Resources" claim that was absent in the recent Wisner filing but present in the City's complaint as well as the Sheriff's.

My reader informed me that only public entities are allowed to file for "Loss of Natural Resources" or NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment) under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA).  The idea is that the "natural resources" are in the public sphere only...such as wildlife, water and air.  Private entities are only allowed to file for property related damage.

Ok, so if that is the reason for the omission, I am assuming that the law firms representing the city are now treating the Edward Wisner Trust as a private entity?  This is in direct opposition to the Mayor's claim that the entity is public.  These lawyers are working for the Mayor and the City, so I'm assuming they adhere to the "public" status of the Wisner Trust.

In fact, the pending litigation in Judge Medley's court right now is to settle the dispute between the City, who maintains that the entity is public; and the heirs, who maintain that the entity is private.

It's an interesting observation, and clarification on the law, but it raises more questions than it answers.

Is the Mayor's administration now operating under the premise that the Wisner Trust is, in fact, a private entity?  


4 comments:

jeffrey said...

Wait. Are the "natural resources" that have been lost to the city and the OPSO in reference to the damage done to the Wisner land?

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

I don't think so. They've intertwined these filings so it's hard to tell. Of the Sheriff was put in the Wisner filing as a clerical error they need to amend the petition ASAP.

Kevin said...

Some of the "Wisner Counsel" were also busy filing suits on behalf of numerous (more than 80 on April 19 and April 20) additional individuals and entities who opted out of the BP Settlement they said was fair and adequate when they were wearing their PSC hats last year.

Kevin said...

Dambala:

Do you recall the "DA Suits" filed by several PSC/Wisner counsel as "special counsel" on behalf of the district attorneys in several parishes, including Orleans?

I believe they were dismissed in December 2011 by Judge Barbier for some reason I think was related to "natural resources" or "damages to the natural resources."

I believe the DA's are saying they are seeking penalties for each and every bird, animal, fish and other wildlife harmed or killed by the spill.

Anyway, we may soon have a 5th Circuit definition of "natural resources" or "damages to the natural resources" as the DA's appealed that dismissal.