In a recent but on-going dispute, wherein nearly 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies were sued on behalf of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority (SLFPA) for not repairing damage, allegedly caused by the companies to Louisiana’s wetlands, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA) has now filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General (AG) of Louisiana, in which they allege that the AG overstepped his authority in allowing the hire of the law firm that filed the lawsuit.

In their lawsuit, LOGA alleges that the AG did not have authority to approve the contingency fee agreement between the SLFPA and the law firm that filed the lawsuit against the companies. According to LOGA, the manner in which the contract was approved is against the law. Specifically, they allege that the AG acted well beyond his authority in agreeing to let the flood protection board hire the law firm.

According to the LOGA lawsuit, the current Louisiana statute states that where the AG is unable to represent a political subdivision, such as the flood protection authority, then the AG must retain special counsel on an hourly basis, rather than on a contingency fee basis. Essentially, the legal and contract disputes in this case arose when the board sanctioned the flood authority to have a contingency fee agreement with a law firm. Pursuant to the terms of the fee contract, the firm is to receive a compensation of 22.5% to 32.5% of any amount recouped in their lawsuit against the oil, gas and pipeline companies.

However, LOGA alleges that, according to the law, the AG is the counsel for the board and the legislature never granted or authorized the board to hire other legal counsel. Furthermore, LOGA states that any compensation for the lawsuit should be deposited or received by the state treasury and then legislatively appropriated to specific wetland restoration projects.

The litigation and contract dispute in this case is clearly complex and, requires close examination of the Louisiana statute and its intent. Such contractual disputes and issues are challenging for all sides involved and have far reaching implications. Thus, it is essential to have competent, well-versed business law attorneys on one’s side.

Source: The Town Talk, “Oil-gas advocate sues Louisiana AG over wetlands contract,” Dec. 17, 2013