Bankruptcy judge to manage Gulf spill victims’ attorney fee disputes
A federal bankruptcy judge has been appointed to rule on future
disagreements over attorney fees related to the multibillion-dollar
settlement between BP and victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier appointed Judge Jerry A. Brown of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
for the Eastern District of Louisiana to handle disputes over
attorneys' pay from victims' shares of the settlement. The appointment
follows Barbier's decision last week to throw out a Texas lawyer's
request for a 25 percent cut of a fisherman's expected compensation
under the settlement.
Barbier ruled Friday that attorney Brent Coon,
who has offices in Houston and Beaumont, used a contract with a forged
signature to assert that he represented the fisherman. Barbier said the
signature on the contract Coon submitted doesn't match Dien Nguyen's known signature on other documents submitted to the court.
The judge issued the same decision involving another attorney who also purported to represent Nguyen, James J. Dailey
of Mobile, Ala. Coon and Dailey have partnered in representing
plaintiffs in the spill case. Coon has denied he acted inappropriately
in filing a lien against Nguyen's compensation claim.
In his latest order, Barbier said claims administrator Patrick Juneau
requested the appointment of someone specifically tasked with
adjudicating future liens against victims' compensation from the
settlement. Barbier said that while he is appointing Brown to resolve
disputes and Brown's decision will be binding on spill claimants and the
attorneys, Barbier will supervise the process and enforce decisions
made by Brown, if necessary.