It’s most significant that our firm filed the first state government case against BP in the oil spill litigation. At that time, Troy King was Attorney General and he came under unjust criticism and strong opposition from Gov. Bob Riley, who was totally opposed to our filing suit against BP. We knew at the time that BP would not treat Alabama fairly unless forced to do so in court. When the suit was filed, Gov. Riley accused Troy of derailing his unilateral and secret settlement negotiations with BP. We learned that Gov. Riley had been quietly negotiating a $148 million settlement with BP, which because of our involvement, never happened. Everybody knows now what we knew back in 2010 and that was it would take filing suit and aggressively prosecuting it to obtain justice for Alabama. The filing of the lawsuit on behalf of the State of Alabama was the single most important event in the BP litigation because it set things in motion for all that would ultimately follow.
To his credit, the newly elected Attorney General, Luther Strange, took over the lawsuit and quickly realized it was a great opportunity for the state. He was put in a leadership position in the massive litigation by Judge Barbier. From the very beginning, our firm was heavily involved in the State of Alabama’s case. After he took office in 2011, newly elected Governor Robert Bentley retained our firm, with Rhon Jones as the lead attorney, to prosecute the state’s case in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office. The following is some information on the Beasley Allen lawyers who actually worked on Alabama’s case from the beginning until the very end. All of these lawyers, who as of July 2, had put in more than 25,000 hours in the case, were deputized as Deputy Attorneys General by Attorney General Luther Strange. These are the lawyers who worked on Alabama’s case:
• Rhon E. Jones: Rhon was the lead attorney in the case. He brought a tremendous amount of experience to this litigation. Rhon is our Environmental Section Head and a member of the oil spill Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC). He was also a member of the negotiating team for the private oil spill settlement, had a tremendous amount of experience in high stakes cases, and he organized and oversaw the Governor’s team. He advised the Governor directly throughout the case. A master negotiator, Rhon was a lead attorney in settlement negotiations that would ultimately yield a $2.3 billion result for the state. Rhon’s influence in the case cannot be underestimated, and his close oversight and involvement in the case is a major reason Alabama’s case progressed as it did.
• J. Parker Miller: Parker, a lawyer in our firm, was selected to build the State’s economic and property damages case for Beasley Allen, and to coordinate all litigation matters. His focus was to build a winning case for damages at trial, and he worked tirelessly to assemble a group of some of the foremost experts in the nation on complex economic and property damage matters. Parker organized Alabama’s factual case, and along with Corey Maze from the Attorney General’s office, he was the go-to lawyer for matters before the Court in the litigation. As the case evolved and discovery commenced, Parker took on the additional role of coordinating the State’s discovery efforts. The deposition of the first 30(b)(6) BP witness could be considered one of the turning points in the litigation. Parker joined the negotiation team as settlement negotiations became advanced. His efforts were nothing short of exceptional in this matter.
• Jenna Day Fulk: Initially assigned to document review work in late 2013, Jenna quickly rose to play a key role in the State’s case. Jenna did exceptional work in building, then defending in discovery, Alabama’s claims for Departmental costs and losses associated with the spill. Aside from her work on Departmental claims, Jenna worked very closely with Parker Miller on all facets of the case, including discovery, expert development, and economic and property damages. Based on her work, Beasley Allen named her one of its newest associates this past year. Jenna’s future is very bright and we are happy to have her at the firm.
• Rick D. Stratton: A very experienced and successful lawyer, Rick played a major role in the development of the State’s case. He spent a significant amount of time helping develop Alabama’s property damages case, including mapping oiling impacts, developing environmental impact reports, and working with the State’s property damage experts and witnesses to help formulate a theory for damages. Rick was also heavily involved in the State’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment team. Rick focused heavily on the societal cost to Alabama as a result of budgetary shortfalls created by the oil spill. Rick was a major asset to our team in this litigation.
There are three other lawyers from our firm who have worked in the BP litigation. While they didn’t actually work in the Alabama case, they worked very hard on the global aspects of this litigation. Those lawyers are:
• John Tomlinson – John has worked on the class settlement tirelessly since it was created. He was a key component for our firm and the PSC in working on the creation and implementation of the formula for business loss claims. He handles business loss clams and is one of the most knowledgeable lawyers in this area in the country. He continues to answer questions from class members regarding business loss claims in conjunction with class counsel and works with the PSC to see that business loss claims are processed as efficiently as possible. He did excellent work.
• Chris Boutwell – Chris continues to work on business loss and property claims in the class settlement. He has become an expert in all types of property related class claims and worked extensively with the PSC on environmental expert matters that affected the litigation. Chris, too, did excellent work.
• Grant Cofer – Grant worked on local government claims for the firm and helped bring those to a successful resolution. Grant also handles business loss and individual loss claims in the class settlement. His work on both of those types of claims has been outstanding. We are especially proud of his work on individual claims in the settlement because those are very important to the process and have resulted in awards for many of our clients who earn hourly wages and were impacted by the Spill. Again, Grant’s work was in the excellent category.
All of the Beasley Allen lawyers have made enormous contributions to this litigation and to our clients. Their efforts and sacrifice were a major reason thousands of individuals and businesses received, and continue to receive, compensation for the devastation that occurred in 2010. Staff members in our firm also played a major role in keeping the discovery on track. Sandra Walters, Tracie Harrison, Dana Simon, Kimberly Youngblood, and a host of other staff members worked many long hours. I was also involved in the case on a weekly basis starting before the state’s lawsuit was filed and that involvement continued all the way through the negotiations that resulted in the settlement. .
Rhon Jones and I would meet and discuss litigation plans in the Alabama case each week and I was available at other times when needed so that the other lawyers would have the benefit of my experience over the years in the complex litigation field. I was told by Gov. Bentley that he wanted me on the trial team for Alabama and I had looked forward to trying the case on behalf of the people of Alabama. Even though I really wanted to try the case, I fully realize that the settlement was in the best interest of the people of Alabama.
Our firm also managed Alabama’s document production and retention database for trial, and we dedicated a technical staff to the case to assist with discovery disputes. In total, the firm retained 28 experts over the course of the litigation in the fields of economics, accounting, environmental science, geography, real estate, property development, coastal geology and GIS systems, and dedicated tens of thousands of hours in the litigation in support of the State’s case.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.