One wonders whether he does, given the current fracas over the bill sitting on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk that would kill the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit.
Caldwell just sent a letter to Jindal warning that the bill, SB 469, is too broad in prohibiting subsidiaries of the Louisiana state government from filing suits in such cases and because it’s too broad it would not only kill the SLFPA-E suit but BP oil spill litigation as well.
Caldwell is backed in this contention by a bunch of law professors from Loyola, Tulane, LSU and a number of other law schools around the country.
It doesn’t appear that Caldwell’s letter is very persuasive. Jindal’s people are saying he’s leaning toward signing the bill, and they’ve got a good reason for saying so. Namely, that we just had a three-month legislative session and the bill was debated in three committees and on the floor of both the House and the Senate before it was passed, and Buddy Caldwell was nowhere to be seen.
Not to mention that the bill was amended several times at the request of local governments which wanted to safeguard their legal rights and met with the bill sponsor, Sen. Brett Allain, to make necessary changes.
Caldwell’s veto recommendation was labeled a political maneuver by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, the chief sponsor of the legislation that also was authored by Sen. Bret Allain, R-Jennings. Adley said during an interview that he believed Caldwell was acting on behalf of trial lawyers who have financially supported his campaigns for office.
“This is probably the worst political gamesmanship by one of our statewide elected officials that I’ve ever experienced,” Adley said. He said that the bill was debated for three months in the Legislature, but Caldwell did not ask to testify before any of the committees considering the bill.
“He never showed up one time, never uttered a word of what he thought was right or wrong about the bill,” Adley said.
Adley said it also is ironic that it would be Caldwell who would have to defend the law if it is signed by Jindal and then its constitutionality is challenged by the levee authority or other parties.
One could draw from his actions the idea that Buddy Caldwell is a fan of the SLFPA-E lawsuit and the $2 billion and change it could make trial lawyers who give cash to his campaign. Of course, he hasn’t mentioned that.
In fact, until today he didn’t mention much of anything. Like Adley said, he was nonexistent while the legislation was being crafted and debated.
As for the state’s BP cases, aren’t those covered by the Oil Pollution Act? That’s a federal law. Unless we’ve got this completely wrong this bill doesn’t apply to lawsuits filed under the Oil Pollution Act. Caldwell’s letter doesn’t explain how a bill which outlines some rather specific state and federal laws it bans lawsuits from, and the Oil Pollution Act isn’t one of them.
We’re no legal experts here, so maybe somebody could explain where we’re wrong. Hey, maybe Buddy Caldwell can. He certainly hasn’t yet, though, and he’s had three months to do so.
And that fact makes us think Adley probably has him pegged. That Caldwell, rather than to actually do his job during the session and provide input which would have removed whatever “infirmities” he says may have existed in the bill while it was making its way through the legislature, sat on his rear end and did nothing, the better to surface after the fact and try to exact a political price from the governor for signing it after passage. That way, Caldwell gets to carry water for his trial lawyer pals by making objections to the bill that could well make their way into lawsuits challenging it, and for himself he gets an issue he can clothe himself in next year when he runs for re-election – Buddy The Fierce Defender Of The Coast Against Evil Oil Companies.
Here’s what Jindal should do. Jindal should offer to veto the bill. In return, the SLFPA-E gives up the suit, as they have been asked repeatedly to do, and agrees not to bring it again. No deal, no veto.