BY PAIGE BOWERS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMERO & ROMERO
Coastal litigation, airplane rescues
and J. Rock Palermo III
J. ROCK PALERMO III
· PARTNER, VERON, BICE, PALERMO
& WILSON; LAKE CHARLES
· ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION;
ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES;
PERSONAL INJURY – PRODUCTS:
· LOUISIANA SUPER LAWYERS:
IN A DEPOSITION LAST FEBRUARY, J. ROCK PALERMO III
stood before Louisiana Oil & Gas Association president Don
Briggs and asked him about a U.S. Geological Survey map
indicating that oil and gas companies were responsible for
36 percent of the state’s coastal land loss.
Briggs said he hadn’t seen it and didn’t need to see it. He had
seen other maps.
“What other maps have you seen?” Palermo asked him.
“I don’t know,” Briggs replied.
In July 2013, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection
Authority-East, which operates the levees, seawalls and other
protective measures in the greater New Orleans area, filed a
lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies. It claimed 10,000
miles of canals and pipelines had contributed to coastal land
loss, and the companies were obligated to restore the wetlands.
In an attempt to derail the lawsuit, LOGA filed against the state
attorney general, alleging the office had improperly approved
SLFPA-E’s contract to hire outside counsel—which included
Palermo’s firm—for the land loss suit.
From Briggs’ perspective, the threat of lawsuits like the one filed
by SLFPA-E was scaring off potential oil and gas company business.
But Palermo, a partner at Lake Charles-based Veron, Bice, Palermo
& Wilson, methodically demonstrated that Briggs had no facts or
data to back up his theory that companies were avoiding drilling in
Louisiana. He also demonstrated why SLFPA-E had every right to
hold the industry accountable. Palermo cited fact after damning
fact, many of which Briggs said he also hadn’t seen or didn’t need to
see, even though the findings had been gathered by universities, the
government and even the oil and gas industry.