Wednesday, July 09, 2014

DHECC - Mr. Mockingbird is singing a new tune

Folks, I want you to understand something if you don't already realize it....most mainstream media resources, on the whole, are bullshit PR printing presses....or rather pixel presses.  That holds true in our little swampy corner of the world in spades.

I'm not even going to link to the last TP article on Wisner because I don't want you to see what Herman and Herman are getting for their advertising dollars on but I am going to link to this amazingly ridiculous puff piece written by Lafayette's The Advertiser bemoaning the unfair scrutiny that's been heaped on DHECC Claims Administrator Pat Juneau by BP:

Lafayette lawyer takes heat handling oil spill claims

This thing reads like a Kim Jong Il biopic written by a North Korean press secretary held at gunpoint.

I love this quote:
"My wife and friends began asking me why I didn't just give this up and enjoy my fishing camp on the Atchafalaya Basin," said Juneau, who has a New Orleans apartment a short walk from his office, but spends weekends in his Lafayette home. "The attacks on my reputation are painful. I've had a long career that I'm proud of and never encountered anything like this. But I feel a duty to see this process out to its end." 
I'll tell you why he doesn't give it up....over 300k a month and billing for full work weeks while doing the same on other MDL cases.  That's why.

But the real kicker is that the main source filling the story up with ink/pixels is our trusty old "expert of experts" on the BP settlement, Loyola Law Professor Blain LeCesne.  LeCesne dutifully sings Juneau's praises like a good mockingbird and even suggests he may have nudged some Wall Street swinging dicks to make BP agree to the settlement in the first place.

As luck would have it (not really) within 24 hours of The Advertiser article being published, the Louisiana Record published this article on LeCesne:

Claims expert critical of BP under fire for alleged conflict of interest 

I have known about the NOLMAR issue and LeCesne for months.  If you read this post from December of 2013 I rhetorically queried LeCesne about attempting to expedite a claim, without naming NOLMAR, towards the bottom of the post.

The LA Record article states that Lionel Sutton said he didn't remember speaking to LeCesne but that's not right.  If Sutton actually said that to the Record I suspect he did so because he doesn't trust any MSM resource to tell the truth and can you blame him?  I actually asked Sutton about the NOLMAR issue when I conducted the interview but I decided not to publish it because he said he couldn't definitively say LeCesne was trying to expedite the claim.  Here is that response:

Lionel Sutton - NOLMAR LECESNE from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

* I mispronounced his name in the interview, mea culpa

Sutton also went on to say that it's not surprising that LeCesne specifically called him on the NOLMAR claim as he was the go-to guy on troubled claims.  He also stated that his phone number had been published publicly so he was getting a ton of calls anyway.  In the Record article LeCesne claims he got Lionel's number from a Loyola colleague but I don't think there's anything mischievous there.

What I do think is highly mischievous is this comment LeCesne made to the Record:
“There is a big difference between inquiring about the status of a claim and trying to have it expedited to go in front others who are in the queue,” LeCesne said. “And any attorney representing a BP plaintiff whose claim has not moved for a year would be engaged in malpractice to not inquire about their client’s claim.” 
No shit?  You're fucking with us right, B?

Aside from the fact that he's not NOLMAR's attorney on the claim, LeCesne suggests there is a "big difference in inquiring about the status of a claim as to having it expedited to go in front of others who are in the queue"?

I would love for him to elaborate on that difference...would simply love it.

Back in December LeCesne was chirping that expediting claims was "much ado about nothing" to the Southeast Texas Record:
 “BP has predictably exaggerated the nature and substance of the findings of the Freeh report, whereas the Freeh report actually validated the process in most respects,” LeCesne said. “The only wrongdoing is an ethical violation by an attorney and other unseemly conduct by some attorneys trying to get their claims paid ahead of others.” 
“When you look at that, it’s not really that bad,” he said. “They probably were overzealous in trying to get their clients and themselves paid before everyone else, but they weren’t trying to extract improper payments. There’s a big difference.”
Forgive me if I'm a little confused here but I'm trying to qualify and quantify all the "big differences".  I suspect it may have something to do with whether or not LeCesne, himself, is being accused of expediting.

I think Mr. Mockingbird may have cut his own vocal chords regarding the BP settlement.  


Clay said...

Congrats for many years hard work.

sutton said...

Jason, you are correct about my distrust of the MSM. The Louisiana Record has consistently mistated the allegations against me. The quote below, taken from the most recent article, is absolutely false and is, as Juneau would say, "actionable".

"Sutton resigned from the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) after being accused of trying to expedite a BP claim that was later found to be fradulent."

Speaking of Juneau, I wonder if he sees the irony in his complaints about BP. At least when he was falsely accused by BP, his boss didn't kick him to the curb. It would have been nice if he had treated Reitano the same way when she was falsely accused. Even though Juneau's own investigation found no wrongdoing by Reitano, and Freeh's allegations against her have been completely discredited, she has been out of work for over a year.

I hope that Juneau does take action against BP. It would be interesting to see if his lawsuit gets buried like Reitano's or if the special treatment and double standard continues.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Yeah I know, I should have titled this post "The stench of hypocrisy". So much on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

The Wisner matter was not buried....very telling.

brutha said...

I was right on Heebe and wrong on Nagin... I guess 1 out of 2 ain't bad...

Kevin said...

From The Advertiser article on that poor Lafayette lawyer:

"The BP settlement is complex and mammoth — more than 1,000 pages — and Juneau had nothing to do with writing or approving it."

I'd bet my left nut that Juneau was in the loop with Fayard as the BP settlement was written and discussed. It would be a freak of legal nature if that didn't happen.

Lionel: you know Pat isn't going to sue anybody. The last thing he needs is a well-prepared lawyer taking his deposition(s).

Anonymous said...

True, Kevin.
That's why Reitano's suit will stay buried and the show cause parties and clawback defendants were denied discovery.
My guess is that is the underlying reason for almost everything that has happened since BP first sued Juneau at the beginning of 2013.

Kevin said...

It's not like special masters can't have their depositions taken.

In fact, there's another special master in the BP litigation (Francis E. McGovern) who actually had to submit discovery responses and give a deposition while he was a special master in the Owen's Corning asbestos/bankruptcy case. It was done in connection with a motion to disqualify him and other special masters in the case for ex parte meetings and other conduct involving the judge and counsel in that case. He withdrew from his appointment, and supposedly swore off asbestos litigation.

Kevin said...

Part I of II

Related to my previous comment, below is a footnote from a law review article written by Professor Lester Brickman in 2005. See if you recognize a name or 2:

"216. In addition to appointing David Gross and Judson Hamlin as advisors, see supra note 19, Judge Wolin also appointed Professor Francis McGovern as an Advisor to assist him in overseeing the bankruptcies of Owens Corning, W.R. Grace, USG, Federal Mogul and Armstrong World Industries. As noted previously, see id., Hamlin and David Gross, also served as class counsel for asbestos cases in the G-I Holdings bankruptcy. Because legal rulings by Judge Wolin could serve as a precedent for the G-I Holdings bankruptcy in which these advisors had a financial interest, thereby giving rise to a conflict of interest, and further because of numerous ex parte meetings that Judge Wolin had with his Advisors and interested parties, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a writ of mandamus to disqualify Judge Wolin from three of the bankruptcies. Id.

Professor McGovern was later appointed as a Mediator in the Owens Corning bankruptcy. Professor McGovern had also served as a Trustee of both the Fibreboard Asbestos Compensation
Trust (now the Fibreboard Settlement Trust) and the Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust. Joe Rice and other plaintiff lawyers on the ACCs were responsible for Professor McGovern’s appointments in those cases. Deposition of Francis McGovern at 57, In re Celotex Corp., Nos. 90100168B1, 9010017B1 (Bankr. D.D.C. July 8, 2003). It appears that Professor McGovern may have continued to serve as Trustee of the Fibreboard Settlement Trust long after Owens Corning had acquired Fibreboard in 1997 and perhaps as late as 2001 when Judge Wolin appointed him as Advisor. It further appears that Professor McGovern’s activities as mediator included negotiation of a plan that transferred $140 million of Owens Corning’s assets to the Fibreboard Settlement Trust—a development favorable to the interests of Rice and the other plaintiff attorneys.

While Professor McGovern was involved in his role as Mediator in the Owens Corning bankruptcy, he was employed by ABB, the parent of Combustion Engineering, “to mediate the Combustion Engineering bankruptcy” between the company and “any creditors of Combustion Engineering.” Id. at 142. At the time he was hired by ABB, Rice was not involved in the deliberations. Rice was later engaged to put together a pre-packaged bankruptcy deal. Id. at 146, 148-149. McGovern was one of three people present at a meeting in Zurich with ABB and Joe Rice when the offer of a $20,000,000 “success fee” was made and accepted. Id. at 147-49. When asked whether he had contacted Rice as part of his mediation effort for ABB, whether he had traveled to Zurich with Rice, and whether he had discussed Rice’s compensation with Rice, Professor McGovern refused to answer, claiming these facts were confidential. Id.; see also St. Francis of Asbestos, WALL ST. J., June 15, 2004, at A14.

On September 10, 2003, after the bankruptcy court found Rice’s unconsented $20 million fee unethical because of an “actual conflict of interest” with his clients, and while the matter was on appeal to Judge Wolin, Rice participated in a six hour, ex parte meeting with Judge Wolin, Professor McGovern, Gross and other plaintiff counsel. Time Entry of David R. Gross, Sept. 10,
2003 (page 3571 of the Joint Appendix submitted to the Third Circuit, Feb. 20, 2004), in In re Kensington. Judge Wolin’s log refers to this meeting as a session with “Francis and the boys”—the latter a term he used to refer to Rice and other leading plaintiffs’ attorneys with whom he periodically met ex parte. Five days after this ex parte meeting, on September 15, 2003, Judge Wolin reversed Judge Fitzgerald’s order requiring Rice to acknowledge his conflict and obtain waivers from his clients or forfeit the fee. See Order, In re Combustion Eng’g, Inc., No. 03-10495 (D. Del. Sept. 15, 2003); see also supra notes 211-215.

Kevin said...

Part II of II

Little is known about the details of this meeting. Professor McGovern, when deposed less than four months later, said he did not remember what had occurred. Deposition of Francis McGovern, supra, at 65-66. Though Judge Wolin barred any inquiry into Professor McGovern’s role in the Combustion Engineering case, see Deposition of David R. Gross at 253, In re Owens Corning, No. 00-3837/00-3854 (Bankr. D. Del. Jan. 5, 2004), there is evidence that Judge Wolin did in fact discuss the CE pre-packaged plan with Professor McGovern and his other Advisors both before and after CE filed for Chapter 11. See Motion of Kensington Int’l Ltd., et al. Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §§ 105 and 327 and Delaware Local Bankruptcy Rule 9019 for Order Disqualifying and Terminating Appointment of Francis E. McGovern as Mediator in These Chapter 11 Cases at ¶ 34, In re Owens Corning, No. 00-03837 (Bankr. D. Del. May 24, 2004). The court’s approval of the CE pre-packaged plan was reversed by the Third Circuit. See supra note 169. However, there is no mention of the $20 million fee in that appellate opinion.

The September 10, 2003 ex parte meeting was followed approximately two weeks later by another ruling by Judge Wolin which was favorable to Rice’s interests. Judge Wolin stayed a $2.4 million disgorgement order issued by Judge Newsome in the ACandS bankruptcy against the Kenesis Group, LLC (“Kenesis”). See In re ACandS, Inc., 297 B.R. 395, 404 (Bankr. D. Del. 2003) (ordering disgorgement of the $2.4 million fee); Order Granting Stay Pending Appeal, In re ACandS, Inc., No. 03-895, 02-12687 (Bankr. D. Del. Sept. 26, 2003) (staying Judge Newsome’s order). The following recitation of facts about Kenesis is taken from Memorandum of the United States Trustee in Support of Objection to Debtor’s Application to Employ the Kenesis Group, In re ACandS, Inc., No. 02-12687 (Bankr. D. Del. Aug. 7, 2003). The Kenesis group is a claims processing firm 70% owned by Gilbert Heintz, the law firm hired by the debtor in the ACandS prepackaged bankruptcy filing which works closely with plaintiff law firms involved in asbestos litigation and bankruptcies, including Motley Rice and Weitz & Luxenberg. See supra notes 186-188. Kenesis was to be paid $3 million to do postpetition claims processing. Kenesis, in turn, subcontracted two thirds of that work to and paid approximately $2 million to another entity which was owned by a paralegal on leave from employment at Rice’s law firm but using the firm as her address. Under this arrangement, it appears that the Rice firm’s paralegal was determining the eligibility of claims submitted by Rice’s law firm on behalf of its clients for payment from the ACandS settlement trust.

Given the circumstances described above with reference to Kenesis’s subcontracting claims processing to a paralegal on leave from Rice’s law firm, Judge Wolin’s stay of Judge Newsome’s order to disgorge the $2.4 million so far paid to Kenesis, see Findings of Fact, Opinion and Conclusions of Law Re: Debtor’s Motion to Employ the Kenesis Group, LLC, In re ACandS, Inc., No. 02-12687 (Bankr. D. Del. Aug. 25, 2003), despite numerous violations of the Bankruptcy Code, see Memorandum of the United States Trustee in Support of Objection to Debtor’s Application to Employ the Kenesis Group, supra, at 6-13, would appear to have been highly favorable to Rice."

SOURCE: Professor Lester Brickman, ETHICAL ISSUES IN ASBESTOS LITIGATION, 910 HOFSTRA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 33:833, 2005], pp.889-90; fn.216.

Clay said...

Tainted Legacy

By David Hammer

On legacy lawsuits. First example is quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"The Wisner matter was not buried....very telling."

Therein lies their problem and will eventually lead to their downfall.

-Why was it okay for Juneau to expedite the claim of his friend's son but it was criminal for Sutton to check the status of the Andry Law Firm claim?
-Why was it okay for certain PSC attorneys to place the personal claims of their relatives ahead of the claims of class members but it was criminal for Andry Lerner to inquire about their clients claims?
Why was okay for PSC firms to have direct access to Program accountants to discuss the processing of the claims of their personal clients but it was criminal for Andry Lerner to request status checks?
-Why are those PSC firms allowed to continue to represent clients but AL are not?
-Why was Ritano fired because of her husband's alleged conflicts but an Appeals Panelist was not fired when it was discovered that his wife was representing claimants?
-Why weren’t that Panelist and his wife named?
-Why were 2 Appeals Panelists, working for the Settlement Program while still members of law firms representing claimants, allowed to continue working but it was criminal for Sutton to be in an unrelated business with a lawyer representing claimants?
-Why were 2 law firms, getting paid for work their partners did as Appeals Panelists while the firms represented claimants, allowed to continue representing claimants after the conflicts were discovered but Andy Lerner cannot?
-Why were those law firms not named but AL was run through the mud?
-Why were those Appeals Panelists allowed to continue working for the Settlement Program after resigning from their firms but Ritano was fired?
-Why were those panelists not named?
-Why were 2 law firms, getting paid for work their partners did as Appeals Panelists while the firms represented claimants, allowed to file firm claims but a company in which Sutton had a minority interest could not?
-Why was the page 60 firm not named?
-Why is the page 60 firm still allowed to represent claimants but Andry Lerner cannot?
-Why is Louis Freeh allowed to claw back claims of shrimpers that filed late and/or amended tax returns when there was a policy in place that allowed for late and/or amended returns but the judge does not immediately allow claw back of payments made pursuant to Juneau’s judicially determined misinterpretations?

Kevin said...

"-Why was it okay for Juneau to expedite the claim of his friend's son but it was criminal for Sutton to check the status of the Andry Law Firm claim?"

Freeh's own XL Spreadsheet clearly shows Lionel accessed the files of Corps Constructors. It’s safe to say the Freeh organization is aware of that fact.

Also, Lionel has stated in his objections to Freeh’s report, that:

“Pat Juneau also asked Sutton to contact the son of one of Juneau’s friends in Baton Rouge to answer questions he had about his claim. Sutton called the claimant, emailed the questions to the appropriate vendor and discussed the answers with Juneau and the claimant. Juneau further instructed Sutton to have the claim processed immediately. That instruction was conveyed to and acknowledged by an employee at Brown Greer by email. Unlike the Andry Law Firm claim, that claim was not already '“in line to be processed”'. That was the first and only time Sutton ever attempted to expedite a claim and it was at the direct instruction of Pat Juneau. The email to expedite the claim was from Sutton’s DHECC email account and was obviously available to Freeh. One can only imagine why it was not included in the Special Master’s Report.”

Since Freeh’s counsel was served with a copy of Lionel’s opposition, we know Freeh is aware of these facts, too.

All he and the court are missing is Lionel’s interview video or affidavit attached to a pleading that puts 2 and 2 together for them.

Anonymous said...

This is the claimants emergency broadcast system ......... The commencement of the PURGE has started.

All claimants rights have been suspended all rule of law is no longer in effect until all claims are killed.

Claimants not willing to participate must take caution or the remaining 40% if they secured it from GCCF.

The bidding started at 600 million dollars.

You have been put on notice.

The settlement vendors have reviewed your file and will now require you to produce every breakout for every line item expense on your P&L’s.

Policy 495 allows us to shift earnings and expenses to render you none payable. Additional policies have been adopted to exclude you as a member of the class.

Patrick Juneau and BP thanks you for your participation.

Clay said...

More on Legacy Lawsuits & how the people of South Louisiana have been robbed blind:

Anonymous said...

The deep trauma of the ecological disaster of the oïl fouling the Gulf, the dispersants bringing Agent Orange era Vietnam nightmares home to a familiar and beloved place, the dead animals, fish and plants... this aches.

The lost livelihoods and lifeways, a human disaster played out in slow motion, each interation of harm distinct and private to a family, a common problem fragmented by the old drsmas of race, gender, and social class in ways that set potential allies against one another and leaves familie and communites reeling and alone--

Does the former fisherman who is losing his boat go into the military and add war PTSD to the mix? Does mom leave dad over the drinking? Who will care for the old man now suffering weird strains of what he onc might have derided as yuppie flu?-- these things are real, and impossible to quantify.

The horror show of the legal mess sits on top of this, and is so dreadful it almost replaces the more material forms of pain and loss.

The feelings of betrayal, of things being `not right`` make my conversations with friends going through this in a personal way weird, because as they describe what they are facing, the book I keep thinking matches with what they describe, the one that might help, is ``Achilles in Vietnam``

If you have not read it, I recommend it.

It is not about oïl or lawsuits settlements, but somehow, the psychological and social dymamics explored in that book seem to offer something to friends who are coping with a kind of despair about their loss of a civic faith that they have no way of naming and describing.

If you are also trying to comprehend and to name or frame this experience, that book might be medicinal, soul food.