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DA Don Landry addresses oil company lawsuit at VPPJ meeting

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Posted at 8:27 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 16:45:28-04

15th Judicial District Attorney Don Landry spoke at the Vermilion Parish Police Jury meeting Wednesday evening regarding lawsuits filed years ago by the previous DA, which sought to force oil companies to repair the damage they've allegedly done to the state's coastline.

The police jury adopted a resolution at its May meeting to make the request to the DA.

Seven local-level governments filed more than 40 lawsuits several years ago against more than 200 oil companies, accusing the companies of damaging Louisiana's coast by violating state law and permits. Then-DA Keith Stutes filed several suits, with and without support from local governments. The VPPJ voted against the lawsuits.

Police jurors unanimously voted to request to be removed from the lawsuits, something present-DA Landry said he'd do at his first chance.

John Carmouche, an attorney representing several parishes in the suits, said in May that if the parish dismisses the lawsuits, "they will not have a seat at the table. They will lose their right to participate in the outcome."

Landry was at Wednesday's meeting to discuss the lawsuit with the board and reassure them that his office is continuing to work to remove the parish from the suit. However, a stay order issued by a federal judge has paused the removal.

"Because of the stay order, we can't take any action now. So, because of that, we're waiting on the ruling from the federal court."

Landry said it's difficult to estimate how long it would take once the ruling is given. His office is waiting to see what will be decided in federal court, and assuming there are no appeals or similar processes, they will move forward with the VPPJ's request to be removed.

In May, Carmouche said that if Vermilion Parish is unable to participate in the outcome of the suits, it would also lose the opportunity to decide how money would be spent on coastal restoration efforts if any money were awarded as a result of the lawsuit.

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