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.


Sutton said...

When I worked at the claims office, Juneau instructed me to help Easterly file claims. At the time, it was my understanding that Easterly was filing claims under OPA but Juneau thought he should file under the settlement instead.
Of course, Barbier and Freeh weren't concerned about me actually assisting the Good Ole Boys. The powers that be were only concerned with false claims that I may have assisted the unconnected.

Kevin said...


Can you provide more detail on exactly what Juneau's instructions were, and exactly what you did to help Easterly file claims?

I know you can't give names, but did he bring any claims on behalf of any shipbuilders or shipyards located in Mississippi?

Did he bring any claims on behalf of any Louisiana LLCs?

Kevin said...


Does the name "ATI Sales and Marketing, LLC" ring a bell?

Easterly was the agent for service of process for that LLC from 2006 to February 2013. Fayard's son was a Member-Manager of that LLC.

Is this another discloure failure?

sutton said...

I'm not going to discuss claims. I filed a brief in response to the Show Cause Rule setting forth the assistance I gave to the PSC and others as per Juneau's instruction.
I was prosecuted based on a lie that I expedited the Andry Law Firm claim, but the claims that were actually expedited by others were ignored.
I was prosecuted for the perception that I had a conflict of interest because I owned a minority interest in an unrelated business with a lawyer representing claimants while appellate counsel that were partners in law firms that not only represented claimants, but also filed law firm claims, were not disciplined or even named.
My wife was fired without cause and her attempt to right that wrong was improperly removed, buried and stayed while the
person(s) responsible for her loss and defamation were not only allowed to keep their jobs but were given raises and additional investigatory tasks.
Those are my issues.

Kevin said...

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.

Kevin said...

Continuing ...

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 obections.

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.

Dale said...

The corruption of our federal courts is frightening but falls in line with that seen in our state courts. There have been numerous cases brought to light in the last four years where federal judges have rendered decisions when they should have been recusing themselves due to conflicts.