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Class Action Lawsuit BP Oil Spill

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Brent Coon & Associates employs a uniquely qualified and diverse team of in-house and of-counsel attorneys and legal professionals all across the country. Working together as a single efficient unit, our legal team has the specialized knowledge and experience to work any type of case in any area of the country.
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Brent Coon & Associates has offices throughout the country, including Hub Offices in Beaumont and Houston, TX, Denver, CO and Los Angeles, CA. These Hub Offices, spanning all four time zones, serve as central nodes for BCA's vast legal network of associated law firms and allows BCA and its partner firms the ability to accept and try cases in any courthouse in the country. Click to view our offices >

BCA in the News

Click below to the top stories about Brent Coon and Associates. Or use the menu below to find specific articles.

Legal stakes are complicated for Exxon Mobil in climate change controversy

November 17, 2015, 10:28 am

Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle

The Pope, the president and other influential voices have characterized climate change as the most urgent danger facing the planet. For decades, energy industry leaders and their political allies have disputed evidence of an adverse human hand in biodiversity, temperatures and polar ice levels.

Now, on the eve of a great global climate summit, one of the most powerful and prominent energy companies in the world faces accusations of covering up research on the harms of petroleum exploration and consumption.

As Exxon Mobil braces for the scrutiny of a criminal investigation, tarnish to its brand name and financial liabilities as yet unseen, some view the case as a chance to firmly shift the culture of energy exploration, production and consumption.

"The playbook the industry hatched back in the early 1990s has now been disclosed; it's a playbook that obviously based on dishonesty and selfishness," said state Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin). "In a football game, if you have the playbook, it may take a while to beat the playbook, but it gives me a chance. It's ammunition."

One potential path to policy change has been demonstrated by cases involving asbestos, tobacco, football concussions and automobile safety. But legal experts say pinning the effects of climate change on the behavior of a particular company will bring a key question to the fore: Who, exactly, are the victims? )

"Exxon is different because the harm is diffuse," said Alexandra Lahav, a complex litigation expert at the University of Connecticut School of Law. "Cars driven in one place will send out emissions that can harm environments many miles away."

At first blush, the news reports appear to be the kind of smoking gun long sought by environmental protection groups. They reveal findings dating to the 1970s by top company technical experts who described the burning of fossil fuels as a primary source of global warming and its potentially catastrophic effects. They describe how Exxon Mobil and other major energy firms have publicly contradicted that research for years, partly by financing public relations efforts to question those scientific conclusions.

Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the company has consistently funded and publicized accurate research.

"We absolutely reject the allegations," Jeffers said. "They are inaccurate distortions of our climate research."

Climate change, he added, "represents a great risk; we need to take prudent steps."

As the responsible party in one of the most environmentally destructive industrial accidents of all time, the Valdez oil spill of 1989, Exxon Mobil has developed the public relations to limit its financial exposure. It also has spent years preparing for litigation, according to the Stanford Law Review. In 2008, the peer-reviewed journal documented efforts by Exxon to pay legal scholars for favorable research it could cite to argue against punitive damages in environmental cases.

ExxonMobil and other industry groups "continue to fund research for the purpose of presenting their findings to courts in order to discredit jury verdicts that awarded punitive damages against them," the law review reported. "This kind of hired-gun research would be problematic even if the results were accurate."

But for the publicly traded company, based in Texas with worldwide employees of 75,000 and revenues of $263 billion, some legal perils are already becoming clear.

Following the reports by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, the New York attorney general has subpoenaed documents to probe whether the company lied to its investors. Former vice president Al Gore and several members of Congress have urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to begin a parallel investigation.

"We've received the subpoena and are assessing our response," said Jeffers, the company spokesman.

The muscle of state prosecutors in New York could prove formidable on its own. Traditionally a leader in consumer protection law, the state attorney there has special tools including the Martin Act, a corporate fraud statute.

For environmental advocates who have long awaited a day of reckoning for Big Oil, though, even successful charges of investor fraud may seem like a hollow victory. To achieve broader policy and cultural change, the case would have to spread beyond New York.

Legal experts say the comparisons to a sweeping change reminiscent of cigarette marketing may prove limited. In the tobacco litigation, a corporate whistleblower helped provide evidence that fueled massive class action lawsuits. As news reports unearthed documentation of cigarettes manipulated with nicotine spikes, state attorneys general joined the fray, suing to recover medical costs. The companies paid billions of dollars in settlements, and the culture around smoking changed.

In those cases, the parties on each side were clear. In any potential litigation over the role of petroleum in climate change, though, "the victims potentially include all seven billion citizens of earth," said Howard Erichson, a civil procedure expert at Fordham University. "And the perpetrators potentially include all seven billion humans as well, although obviously not in equal proportions. This makes climate change a less obvious candidate for mass tort litigation than, say, pharmaceutical product liability, air crashes, cigarettes, or even oil spills."

Investor fraud may prove to be a solid starting point for the climate change case against Big Oil, he added: "To me, the more interesting question is what other sorts of claimants will emerge."

Jeffers, the company spokesman, said other distinctions separate the case from the tobacco litigation.

"The tobacco companies were accused of making junk science and publishing it," he said. "In our case, there's no supporting evidence to support that."

Wherever the case leads, he said, "we're going to continue to reject these allegations. We are going to defend ourselves against this misinformation campaign."

Meanwhile, some class action lawyers are digging for evidence of a broader conspiracy.

While BP famously broke ranks with the industry a decade ago, acknowledging the role of petroleum among many factors in climate change, efforts to demonstrate that multiple companies worked together to hide unfavorable research could open new lines of argument.

"The question now is: "Is Exxon Mobil doing it by itself?'" said Brent Coon, a Houston lawyer whose firm specializes in complex litigation. "Is there a more sinister organized effort to do it?"

Those answers, he said, might not necessarily lead to obvious civil liabilities. But they could make the firms answerable to criminal charges or censure by Congress.

"Who knows?" Coon said. "The question remains: Is this the last domino?"

Read the full article

BCA in the News

Brent Coon in the News

Check out the latest news
and developments relating to BCA.

Legal stakes are complicated for Exxon Mobil in climate change controversy

November 17, 2015, 10:28 am

Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle

The Pope, the president and other influential voices have characterized climate change as the most urgent danger facing the planet. For decades, energy industry leaders and their political allies have disputed evidence of an adverse human hand in biodiversity, temperatures and polar ice levels.

Now, on the eve of a great global climate summit, one of the most powerful and prominent energy companies in the world faces accusations of covering up research on the harms of petroleum exploration and consumption.

As Exxon Mobil braces for the scrutiny of a criminal investigation, tarnish to its brand name and financial liabilities as yet unseen, some view the case as a chance to firmly shift the culture of energy exploration, production and consumption.

"The playbook the industry hatched back in the early 1990s has now been disclosed; it's a playbook that obviously based on dishonesty and selfishness," said state Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin). "In a football game, if you have the playbook, it may take a while to beat the playbook, but it gives me a chance. It's ammunition."

One potential path to policy change has been demonstrated by cases involving asbestos, tobacco, football concussions and automobile safety. But legal experts say pinning the effects of climate change on the behavior of a particular company will bring a key question to the fore: Who, exactly, are the victims? )

"Exxon is different because the harm is diffuse," said Alexandra Lahav, a complex litigation expert at the University of Connecticut School of Law. "Cars driven in one place will send out emissions that can harm environments many miles away."

At first blush, the news reports appear to be the kind of smoking gun long sought by environmental protection groups. They reveal findings dating to the 1970s by top company technical experts who described the burning of fossil fuels as a primary source of global warming and its potentially catastrophic effects. They describe how Exxon Mobil and other major energy firms have publicly contradicted that research for years, partly by financing public relations efforts to question those scientific conclusions.

Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the company has consistently funded and publicized accurate research.

"We absolutely reject the allegations," Jeffers said. "They are inaccurate distortions of our climate research."

Climate change, he added, "represents a great risk; we need to take prudent steps."

As the responsible party in one of the most environmentally destructive industrial accidents of all time, the Valdez oil spill of 1989, Exxon Mobil has developed the public relations to limit its financial exposure. It also has spent years preparing for litigation, according to the Stanford Law Review. In 2008, the peer-reviewed journal documented efforts by Exxon to pay legal scholars for favorable research it could cite to argue against punitive damages in environmental cases.

ExxonMobil and other industry groups "continue to fund research for the purpose of presenting their findings to courts in order to discredit jury verdicts that awarded punitive damages against them," the law review reported. "This kind of hired-gun research would be problematic even if the results were accurate."

But for the publicly traded company, based in Texas with worldwide employees of 75,000 and revenues of $263 billion, some legal perils are already becoming clear.

Following the reports by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, the New York attorney general has subpoenaed documents to probe whether the company lied to its investors. Former vice president Al Gore and several members of Congress have urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to begin a parallel investigation.

"We've received the subpoena and are assessing our response," said Jeffers, the company spokesman.

The muscle of state prosecutors in New York could prove formidable on its own. Traditionally a leader in consumer protection law, the state attorney there has special tools including the Martin Act, a corporate fraud statute.

For environmental advocates who have long awaited a day of reckoning for Big Oil, though, even successful charges of investor fraud may seem like a hollow victory. To achieve broader policy and cultural change, the case would have to spread beyond New York.

Legal experts say the comparisons to a sweeping change reminiscent of cigarette marketing may prove limited. In the tobacco litigation, a corporate whistleblower helped provide evidence that fueled massive class action lawsuits. As news reports unearthed documentation of cigarettes manipulated with nicotine spikes, state attorneys general joined the fray, suing to recover medical costs. The companies paid billions of dollars in settlements, and the culture around smoking changed.

In those cases, the parties on each side were clear. In any potential litigation over the role of petroleum in climate change, though, "the victims potentially include all seven billion citizens of earth," said Howard Erichson, a civil procedure expert at Fordham University. "And the perpetrators potentially include all seven billion humans as well, although obviously not in equal proportions. This makes climate change a less obvious candidate for mass tort litigation than, say, pharmaceutical product liability, air crashes, cigarettes, or even oil spills."

Investor fraud may prove to be a solid starting point for the climate change case against Big Oil, he added: "To me, the more interesting question is what other sorts of claimants will emerge."

Jeffers, the company spokesman, said other distinctions separate the case from the tobacco litigation.

"The tobacco companies were accused of making junk science and publishing it," he said. "In our case, there's no supporting evidence to support that."

Wherever the case leads, he said, "we're going to continue to reject these allegations. We are going to defend ourselves against this misinformation campaign."

Meanwhile, some class action lawyers are digging for evidence of a broader conspiracy.

While BP famously broke ranks with the industry a decade ago, acknowledging the role of petroleum among many factors in climate change, efforts to demonstrate that multiple companies worked together to hide unfavorable research could open new lines of argument.

"The question now is: "Is Exxon Mobil doing it by itself?'" said Brent Coon, a Houston lawyer whose firm specializes in complex litigation. "Is there a more sinister organized effort to do it?"

Those answers, he said, might not necessarily lead to obvious civil liabilities. But they could make the firms answerable to criminal charges or censure by Congress.

"Who knows?" Coon said. "The question remains: Is this the last domino?"

Read the full article


Other BCA Websites
Brent Coon Websites

BCA has created these dedicated websites for our prospective clients.

The History of Asbestos
America's workers are suffering from number of asbestos related diseases because of corporate greed. Watch the documentary now.

Lung Cancer Fact
Lung Cancer Fact is dedicated to providing you with the lung cancer causes, lung cancer types, and lung cancer facts.

Gulf Coast Disaster
A resource dedicated to those impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion

FELA 411
Provides railroad workers with extensive information about their legal rights and the proper process of filing a FELA claim after suffering an injury on the job.

Texas City Explosion
View evidence, video and declassified documents as they are released stemming from the BP Texas City Explosion.

BCA Mortgage Fraud
The mortgage industry has recently reached a settlement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Reserve that created a multi-billion dollar fund to pay damages to victims of mortgage fraud. BCA is fighting to undo the wrongs, keeping people in their homes and getting a recovery for those who were cheated.

Defective Guardrail Lawsuits
BCA is investigating accident lawsuits regarding defective guardrails in which Trinity Industries used cost cutting measures to risk people's lives. A recent whistleblower lawsuit shows ties between defective guardrails to an increase chance of injury and death.

BCA Testosterone Lawsuits
BCA is investigating Low T or Testosterone Therapy products Lawsuits. Studies have linked products like AndroGel to an increased risks of Heart Attack and Strokes

GM Recall Lawsuits
BCA is investigating General Motors Recall lawsuits involving the mass recall of vehicles due to faulty ignitions.

Cell Phone Cancer Lawsuits
BCA is investigating Cell Phone Lawsuits after studied link cell phone use to an increased risk of Cancer.

Petrochemical Law
When it comes to Petrochemical Law, we are the experts. Nationally known, a partner with the US Government, turned to by the media, trusted by the labor organizations.

Porter Ranch Gas Leak Lawsuits
BCA is investigating loss of revene lawsuits for local businesses due to the Porter Ranch Gas Leak.

BCA Business Services
Brent Coon and Associates wants to be your go-to law plaintiff law firm for any business related litigation needs your company may be facing.

BCA Alternative Dispute Resolution
BCA now offers high end mediation and arbitration as part of our dispute resolutions services.
A website created for the press to follow all the latest developments in BCA vs. BP.

National Attorney Network
This website is a service for our referring counsel designed to assist in the client retaining process.

Sunoco Fire Lawsuit
A Legal Resource Dedicated to the Victims of the Sunoco Explosion Tragedy

Flight Attorney
BCA's Aviation Law Focus has a proven track record for handling complex, multi-party aviation cases and claims.

Auto Rollover
The team at Brent Coon and Associates knows when a vehicle rollover or the resulting injury is caused by the shortcomings in the design of the vehicle.

Chamber Sentry
The Institute for Legal Reform is trying to close your court house doors. Learn what you can do to help.

Remember the 15
Join BCA as we push a landmark bill through the Texas House & Senate.

My Safety Rights
A website created and dedicated to helping protect women's safety rights.

PharmAttorney.com
Legal Rights resources for those who have suffered from dangerous pharmaceutical drugs including Xarelto Lawsuits .

Crane Failures
Looking at the reasons behind the recent surge in Crane accidents including news stories, statistics and commentary from industry experts.

Pillot Building
A website dedicated to the historic Pillot Building located in the heart of downtown Houston. Its sophisticated design and ambiance makes it the perfect place to host meetings, fundraisers and celebrations.

Top Maritime Lawyers
Learn more about The Jones Act and Maritime & Admiralty Law from our team of attorneys.

BCA Biker Rights
BCA's Biking community website. Find legal resources related to motorcycle enthusiasts.

IVC Filter Lawsuits
There have been recent studies that suggest that IVC Filters which are used to prevent pulmonary embolism are breaking have shards of metal travel throughout the body at an alarming rate. Learn if you qualify for an IVC Filter Lawsuit.



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