Trials & Litigation

Federal judge sanctions 3 lawyers, says they can't file oil spill claims against BP

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A federal judge in New Orleans sanctioned three lawyers on Thursday, barring them from handling claims against BP concerning the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said at an earlier hearing that Lionel Sutton III, Jonathan Andry and Glen Lerner acted unethically when they coordinated to try to expedite payment of claims of clients of Andry and Lerner, reports the Associated Press. The three were law school classmates at Tulane University.

However, the judge found no evidence to show the efforts to expedite payment were successful, even though Sutton, who worked within the claims-processing center overseen by court-appointed special master Louis Freeh, allegedly received a $40,000 kickback for speeding payments up, the article explains.

Barbier ruled that Andry and Lerner were not to be paid for their work in handling BP claims, although a law firm they set up could be paid for legitimate work. The judge also ordered that complaints be filed with attorney disciplinary authorities in Louisiana and Nevada, where Lerner is based.

Requests for comments from the three attorneys did not receive an immediate response, the AP reports. Sutton and Andry also did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the ABA Journal; Lerner could not be reached for comment.

In a statement posted on the Andry Law Group website, Jonathan Andry says the allegations about his conduct are disputed.

“I work diligently and responsibly to help my clients get their claims paid,” writes Andry, who is listed as the managing partner of both the Andry Law Group and the firm Andry Lerner. “I will continue to fight for your right to be paid the money you are entitled to as a result of this horrible and irresponsible disaster. I will fight equally hard to restore the reputational damage caused by the wrongful accusations leveled against me.”

Earlier Associated Press and Louisiana Record articles provide additional details.

Updated on March 2 to correct a reference to Jonathan Andry.

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