Letter: SLFPA attorney contract invalid

Government should be of laws, not men. The actions of the Louisiana attorney general and the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority—East might be the worst case of neglect and law-breaking I have witnessed.

The SLFPA is suing oil companies and enriching trial attorneys through exorbitant contingency fees on present and future values plus costs or an unknown hourly rate plus costs if the suit is withdrawn. To date, the cost to withdraw the suit is estimated at $5 million plus.

Louisiana law, RS 42:263, requires that before hiring and paying special legal counsel, a parish governing authority, levee board, parish school board, city school board or other local or state board must provide a resolution to the AG for his approval stating fully the reasons for the action and the compensation to be paid. This law was added in 1979 and amended in 1982.

Louisiana law, RS 38:330, created the SLFPA in 2006. This law provides in part: “The state attorney general and his assistants shall be and are hereby designated as counsel.”

RS 38:330 supersedes RS 42:263 since it is the later expression of legislative intent as to who shall be counsel for the SLFPA.

The attorney general is the counsel for the SLFPA, and he is prohibited by law from entering into contingency fee contracts. Hence, the contract between SLFPA and trial attorneys is not legal. Even if 42:263 were applicable, the contract would be invalid because the resolution presented to the attorney general did not fully state the compensation. A “poison pill” provision was not disclosed. That provision requires payment of all costs “if for any reason” the lawsuit is terminated including termination by any third parties, which would include governmental action or future appointees to the SLFPA.

In summary, the actions taken by the SLFPA and AG are not about saving Louisiana’s coast, but they are about money, and Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell continues to fiddle while Rome is burning.

Robert Adley

state senator, District 34