• Swamp Watch

The Trial-Lawyer Behind the Coastal Suits

Updated: May 20

Yesterday, we previewed our series on Louisiana’s coastal lawsuits against oil and gas companies. These lawsuits are backed by a handful of trial lawyers and law firms, but not the ones you may know from driving down the Interstate or watching football. These lawyers operate behind the scenes, building influence with massive contributions to state officials and high-priced lobbyists.

Today, we’ll begin introducing you to the main law firm behind these job-killing lawsuits, Talbot Carmouche & Marcello. Led by Baton Rouge trial lawyer John Carmouche, this firm has filed about 75% of the lawsuits against Louisiana’s oil and gas industry- making them, by far, the leader in litigation against one of Louisiana’s biggest job creators. In the 42 lawsuits filed by local governments, Carmouche's law firm is bankrolling all of them, admitting to spending over $9 million on just two of the suits.

Carmouche has not been shy about criticizing Louisiana’s oil and gas industry, saying of their lobbyists, “what they do at the Legislature is disgusting” and attacking their political spending. Carmouche appears to be throwing stones in a glass house on this issue, as his law firm employs 3 lobbyists, spending between $300,000-$750,000 a year on salary for his lobbyists.

Adding to the hypocrisy, Carmouche criticizes the oil and gas industry for its political spending, while he and his law partners have quietly become one of the largest contributors in Louisiana politics, spending at least $4 million+ influencing elections just since 2012, according to federal and state records. Carmouche decries the oil and gas industry’s spending, but he himself has built a formidable web of PACs to influence local, state, federal, and judicial elections- a web we will begin to unravel in the coming weeks. As we reported yesterday, the political spending of lawyers far outpaces that of any industry in Louisiana, with lawyers and law firms giving more than 5 times more to state and local candidates than the oil and gas industry.

The lawsuits led by Carmouche have become one of the most contentious, and expensive, issues in Louisiana over the last decade- with potentially billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs at stake. We believe the citizens of Louisiana deserve to know about those pushing these job-killing lawsuits, and will continue to report on the politicians and attorneys behind them.

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