FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
VERMILION, No. 82162 HONORABLE JEROME M. WINSBERG, DISTRICT
JUDGE AD HOC
Michael R. Phillips Claire E. Juneau Jeffery J. Gelpi Kean
Miller LLP, L. Victor Gregoire, Robert E. Meadows Carol M.
Wood Andrew M. Stakelum King & Spalding LLP Attorneys for
Defendants/Respondents: Union Oil Company of California and
Chevron U.S.A., Inc.
T. Carmouche Victor L. Marcello John H. Carmouche William R.
Coenen, III Todd J. Wimberly Ross J. Donnes D. Adele Owen
Leah C. Poole Caroline H. Martin Talbot, Carmouche &
Marcello, Jerold Edward Knoll The Knoll law Firm, L.L.C.,
Grady J. Abraham Attorney at Law, Kathy Boudreaux Attorney
Attorneys for Plaintiffs/Applicants: Vermilion Parish School
Board and the State of Louisiana
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John D. Saunders and Billy H.
Ezell, Judges. EZELL, J., concurs.
R. COOKS JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
State of Louisiana (the State) and the Vermilion Parish
School Board (VPSB) sued various defendants including Union
Oil Company of California (UNOCAL) seeking remediation of the
Sixteenth Section school lands in Vermilion Parish. The land
is owned by the State and is managed by VPSB. UNOCAL admitted
it was responsible for environmental damage to the property.
of 2015, a jury returned a multi-million-dollar verdict
awarding damages to the plaintiffs in addition to
remediation. In accordance with the 2006 version of La.R.S.
30:29, the matter was referred to the Louisiana Department of
Natural Resources, Office of Conservation (LDNR), for a
public hearing. LDNR rejected both parties' plans and
structured its own plan identified as the LDNR Most Feasible
Plan (the Plan), which was subsequently adopted by the trial
court. This court affirmed the trial court
ruling and the Louisiana Supreme Court denied
writs. LDNR noted the parties agreed that the soil and/or
sediment around the areas of Tank Battery A and Battery B,
and the groundwater are contaminated by exploration and
production waste. They disagreed as to the degree of the
contamination and the remedy required. The initial cost
estimate for the Plan was $1, 411, 190.00.
only remaining issues are Plaintiffs' claim for attorney
fees and costs. In pursuit of those claims the State and VPSB
propounded discovery to UNOCAL and Chevron on August 20,
2018, seeking information concerning the amount of money
expended to date by UNOCAL to implement the Plan, the scope
of the work performed, and the identity of all persons and
contractors associated with implementing the Plan, along with
supporting documents. UNOCAL objected to the interrogatories
and request for production of documents asserting they are
overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not likely to lead to
discoverable information. UNOCAL maintains that because the
case is over there should no longer be any discovery in the
State and VPSB filed a motion to compel which was denied in
open court. No written judgment was issued. They timely filed
an application for supervisory writs to this court.
Rivet v. State Department of Transportation &
Development, 96-145 (La. 9/5/96), 680 So.2d 1154
(La.1996), three of the important factors in determining the
reasonableness of attorney fees are 1) the ultimate result
obtained; 2) the responsibility incurred; and 3) the amount
of money involved.
Regardless of the language of the statutory authorization for
an award of attorney fees or the method employed by a trial
court in making an award of attorney fees, courts may inquire
as to the reasonableness of attorney fees as part of their
prevailing, inherent authority to regulate the practice of
law. State, DOTD v. Williamson,597 So.2d 439,
441-42 (La.1992) and cases cited therein. This court has
previously noted that factors to be taken into consideration
in determining the reasonableness of attorney fees include:
(1) the ultimate result obtained; (2) the responsibility
incurred; (3) the importance of the litigation; (4) the
amount of money involved; (5) the extent and character of the
work performed; (6) the legal knowledge, attainment, and
skill of ...