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All oil, all the time

The New York Times this week reported on legislative efforts in Congress to expand liability in the case of maritime disasters, including the far-reaching and retroactive SPILL Act, which we've posted about here. The article, "Calls to Update Maritime Laws," briefly notes the role of the trial lawyers lobby:

With some of the proposed legislation promising bigger payments to victims' families, a lobbying group for plaintiffs' lawyers, the American Association of Justice, is among those pushing for changes. Several lawyers said they have had to turn down otherwise compelling cases because existing statutes can sharply limit recovery -- often in random and scattershot ways.

The AAJ holds its convention in Vancouver, B.C., starting this weekend, and in the annual change of top leadership, succeeding current President Anthony Tarricone will be be the current president-elect, C. Gibson Vance of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, PC in Montgomery, Ala.

Beasley Allen is the most prominent trial lawyers' law firm in Alabama, headed by the legendary former governor, lieutenant governor and still political king maker, Jere Beasley. As Beasley Allen's website make clear, the firm has geared up to be a leader in the flood of anti-BP litigation for the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil contamination. For example, "Beasley Allen files its first lawsuit in Alabama state court on behalf of property owners":

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (July 6, 2010) - Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. has filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Ala., against British Petroleum ("BP") and several other companies with ties to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The firm represents James E. Fisher and Kate C. Fisher, who have incurred damages related to the disaster, including damage to their real and personal property, earning capacity, business income and use of natural resources. This is the first lawsuit related to the BP oil spill disaster to be filed by Beasley Allen in Alabama state court.

The first of many lawsuits, judging from the Jere Beasley Report blog's summary of the firm's strategy in a June 4 post, "Our Firm Will Be Involved In The BP Oil Spill Litigation."

The AAJ is full of factions -- check out the list of litigation groups meeting in Vancouver -- and one wonders whether members might resent having an association President so closely associated with just one line of attack. By making an attorney with Beasley Allen its president, the AAJ is declaring to the world, "Our priority is suing BP."

Other targets may breath a sigh of relief.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.