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On the feeding frenzy over Deepwater Horizon spill litigation

We asked Victor Schwartz of Shook, Hardy & Bacon for his reaction to The New York Times Magazine's latest cover story on the positioning by plaintiffs' lawyers in the litigation against BP for the Deepwater Horizon spill, "The Other Oil Cleanup. (Our earlier blog post.)

Schwartz is general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association, which is mentioned in the piece by Douglas McCollam. Schwartz e-mails us (and we add the links and a little punctuation):

Several months ago I observed that the only animal that thrived in the Gulf oil spill were sharks,but when you looked more closely, they may have been trial lawyers. Now something new has happened, the sharks are attacking each other.

First, in competing for the very lucrative positions of being on or possibly lead the official Litigation Steering Committee.
Second, in competition between an old fashion style trial lawyer like Mr. Buzbee, who wants to try cases and more modern class action lawyers like the master Mark Lanier who want a mass settlement, and
Third, between the AAJ Leadership who have faith that it is better to treat Ken Feinberg, head of the $20 billion BP Settlement Fund as a friend, than the Buzbee view to treat him as an enemy.

Those of us who want to see actual victims properly compensated hope that all judges involved will rise above the shark battles and make their rulings favor the goal of victims receiving fair compensation quickly and having funds go in that direction and not elsewhere.

A final observation. AAJ's smear of the Chamber is totally gratuitous and intended to shift focus away from a New York Times article that showed trial lawyers more as creatures of greed as contrasted with victims' true needs.

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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.