As oil continues to gush from a severed pipeline on the Gulf of Mexico seabed, a consortium of law firms stretching from Fort Lauderdale to Texas is preparing for its own kind of cleanup.
The first wave of more than a half-dozen lawsuits landed in federal court in New Orleans last week – one week after the disaster began with an explosion and fire aboard the oil rig Deepwater Horizon 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The rig sank two days later.
“I suspect there will be thousands of lawsuits,” said Broward lawyer Walter G. “Skip” Campbell, who plans to file suit this week in New Orleans on behalf of gulf shrimp and oyster farmers.
To date, authorities have said they can’t choke off the flow of an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day that’s pouring from the damaged pipe and rising nearly a mile to the surface. An enormous, still-growing oil slick threatens economic interests and wildlife habitat for hundreds of miles of coastline from Louisiana to Florida.
Weeks after casting the deciding vote to approve a controversial ballot petition in December 2008, former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Wells joined a law firm aligned with the petition’s sponsor.
The high court’s 4-3 ruling gave life to a push by developers and statewide business interests – led by the Florida Chamber of Commerce – to blunt a possible change in the state constitution to greatly expand citizen powers over local development.
Wells landed a senior job at GrayRobinson, an influential Orlando-based corporate firm allied with the petition’s sponsor, a political action committee called Floridians for Smarter Growth. He says he got the job because of his six decade old friendship with the firm’s co-founder, J. Charles Gray.
GrayRobinson announced Wells’ hiring on March 3, 2009. But in an interview with Broward Bulldog, Wells said he might have accepted the job in January 2009, while the case was still before the court for a possible rehearing.
“I don’t really remember. I may have,” Wells said. “As I say, I was wrapping things up at this point.”
By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org
As Broward’s courthouse task force steamrolls ahead with its $328 million building plan for a new downtown government high-rise, it will have to do so without Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.
Finkelstein has resigned, claiming the task force established to assess the need
In this architectural rendering, the First Presbyterian Church is in the foreground. Behind it are the proposed Family Life Center and separate parking garage/office building along Las Olas Boulevard.
Three years ago, Fort Lauderdale’s First Presbyterian Church lost a fight with neighbors to build $25-million family center, parking garage and other facilities in the city’s historic Colee Hammock district.
The defeat, however, wasn’t a knockout.
The church goes back to the city’s planning and zoning board April 21 with a new proposal intended to address neighbors’ concerns.
Some of Fort Lauderdale’s oldest and most influential names have a stake in the outcome – as congregation members or nearby homeowners. They include: Huizenga, Bryan, Egan, Maus, Blosser, Stiles, Horvitz, Cobb.
Church leaders say the proposed construction on church-owned land south of Las Olas Boulevard between Tarpon Drive and Southeast 15th Avenue is desperately needed to fulfill its ministry.