As the Ryan tag-team (Haygood & Gatti) pose potential $1 million-plus taxpayer defense costs for lawsuit deemed “frivolous or filed in bad faith” by U. S. District Court, Sen. Talbot’s tort reform bill is set to be heard at tomorrow’s Senate Judiciary A meeting.

Dr. C. Ryan Haygood (center of table) makes a point to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Martiny during his testimony of alleged Louisiana Dental Board corruption on April 4, 2018.

When we presented our feature on Shreveport dentist C. Ryan Haygood on April 22, 2020, we did so with the full knowledge that many people would see the sheer length of the feature and say, “No way am I reading all that.”

We went to the trouble to present the entirety of the facts entailing Haygood’s civil litigation lawsuits (one in Federal Court and one in State District Court) so that anyone who may not believe the “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” summary we’re presenting today could go back and fact-check anything we say in this feature.

On May 1, 2019, Haygood appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee and lambasted the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry (LSBD).  Nobody could possibly sum up Haygood’s tesitmony better than Sen. President Page Cortez did the following week on May 8, 2019, so we’re about to present Sen. Cortez’s excellent summation and, at 30 seconds, the shortest video we’ve ever presented on Sound Off Louisiana:


Sen. Cortez, at the May 8, 2019 Senate Commerce Committee meeting, voices his displeasure with testimony by Shreveport dentist Dr. C. Ryan Haygood of the prior week of May 1, 2019.

What makes Haygood’s testimony all the more incredible?  That would be the fact that OVER THREE YEARS PRIOR TO HIS TESTIMONY, the Federal Court for the Western District of Louisiana had already ruled that his civil lawsuit was groundless.  What you just read is correct!  Haygood made the testimony Cortez references in the video above without ever mentioning a word to the members of the Senate Commerce Committee that well, oh by the way, a Federal Court has deemed my civil case to have no merit.

Now, bear in mind that the burden of proof is much lower in civil court than in criminal court (preponderance of evidence that it is more likely than not vs. proof beyond a reasonable doubt), yet Haygood would throw around the terms Cortez references requiring a MUCH higher burden of proof to substantiate what Haygood was stating WHEN HE KNEW FULL WELL that a major ruling in Federal Court told both him and one of his original attorneys filing the suit (former Louisiana Senator Ryan Gatti) that his case is baseless.

Furthermore, Haygood knew at the time of his Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee testimony that his case was so groundless that a Federal Judge granted defendants’ motion for attorney fees!  From that ruling:

The Haygood Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 were frivolous and their LUPTA claims were groundless and brought in bad faith or for purposes of harassment. Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion for Attorney Fees (Record Document 230) be and is hereby GRANTED. No later than twenty-one days from the date of this Memorandum Ruling, Defendants shall file a separate motion to submit detailed time reports, such that a lodestar analysis can be performed to determine the amount of reasonable attorneys fees.

Haygood was subsequently assessed with $114,987.26 in defendants’ attorney fees.  He sought reconsideration by Federal Judge Maurice Hicks, and Hicks denied his Motion for Reconsideration.  Haygood is presently appealing Hicks’ decision on the attorney fees to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

That’s all well and good entailing the State of Louisiana being able to largely pass on its defense costs to Haygood for the Federal litigation he filed, but what about the defense costs for his Louisiana state civil suit (which essentially mirrors the Federal litigation except for being devoid of several Federal issues)?  It is practically unheard of for attorney fees in state civil litigation to be assessed against the losing party (there are some statutory exceptions such as a Special Motion to Strike based upon LA CCP 971).  Accordingly, Louisiana taxpayers are likely on the hook for upwards of $1 million in civil defense costs pertaining to Haygood’s state civil suit, which has already been deemed to be baseless by a Federal Court!

Where do we derive the $1 million figure?  Well, as recognized by long-time dedicated Sound Off Louisiana subscriber Billy Broussard (without whose assistance our main post linked above would not have been possible, and we give him special thanks for that fact) in one of his comments on our post, Haygood himself complained of the fact that, four years ago, that figure was $500,000 and Haygood was upset that many defendants’ defense costs were being paid by Louisiana taxpayers.  From Billy’s comment, which was itself derived from  this feature which Broussard linked and was contained in a 2016 letter Haygood drafted to Attorney General Jeff Landry shortly after he was sworn into office (parenthetical disclosure is ours as is boldface and underline emphasis):

Morrison (investigator for LSBD) is currently under investigation by the State Inspector General’s office and is expected to be criminally charged for fraud, perjury, and billing fraud to the state. Many dentists complained for years about his criminal acts, extortion, and harassment techniques.

It is my understanding that the Attorney General’s office cannot, by statute, defend someone who has broken the law. As you might imagine, Buddy Caldwell’s office did no due diligence into the matter before it was quickly passed off to his friends at The Faircloth Group. According to one former board member, Faircloth has billed more than $500,000 for their defense.

Additionally, your office recently undertook the defense of Sam Trinca, Dean Manning, and James Moreau who are members of the board of dentistry, as well as the board of dentistry itself which were all recently named as defendants. It is probable that at least two of these defendants have perjured themselves in relation to this matter. Furthermore, the board of dentistry recently bragged in their August 2015 board meeting that because they were officially named as defendants in this case, they would be saving money since the state would be undertaking their costs of defense.

We present this illustration to demonstrate the dire need for tort reform in Louisiana, and our timing is designed to coincide with Sen. Kirk Talbot’s bill scheduled to be heard tomorrow before the Senate’s Judiciary “A” Committee.  We’ll be watching that meeting closely, and, in addition to providing video highlights of the meeting, we stand ready to present names and faces of legislators opposing his bill on the webpage just linked which even has one legislator serving as the guinea pig for the page.  Our subscribers are invited to click on the preceding link to reveal the identity of said legislator, and if our guinea pig legislator opts to support an override of Gov. Edwards’ darn-near-certain veto of the bill should it pass both Chambers of the Legislature, we’ll be more than happy to remove the entry as well as issue a public apology for our misguided prediction!  Obviously, should the bill fail to pass either Chamber, we will be highlighting the Legislators who opposed Talbot’s measure.

One final note of significance:

On Thursday, May 14, 2020, Sen. Bill Cassidy will be the special guest of conservative radio talk-show host Moon Griffon (whom The Advocate’s Mark Ballard recently referenced as the “icon” of the right in Louisiana).  Griffon announced on his show today that he plans to ask Cassidy, “What the hell were you thinking?” when Cassidy proposed a $0.5 trillion bailout of state and local governments which was the focus of our most recent feature focusing on Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) opposition to Cassidy’s measure.  Following Cassidy’s feature on Griffon’s show, the Interim Director of AFP’s Louisiana operations, James Lee, will be featured to voice AFP’s position and explain exactly why the group is so adamantly opposed to Cassidy’s measure.  We believe you’ll want to tune in to Moon’s show on Thursday (it’s easy to do so at the link at the start of this paragraph), and we’ll have a Sound Off Louisiana feature focusing on the appearances by Cassidy and Lee soon after the show finishes airing.

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

AFP conducts virtual town hall attended by 25,000 activists urging U. S. Senators to reject Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy’s $500 billion bailout of state and local government operations.

Americans for Prosperity – Louisiana’s Director of Grassroots Operations, James Lee.

[Full Disclosure:  Sound Off Louisiana‘s founder, Robert Burns, is an active participant in functions organized by Americans for Prosperity’s Louisiana Chapter.  While Burns participated in the town hall referenced below and proudly signed AFP’s petition, he was not asked by any AFP official to publish the feature below, and his decision to do so is solely his own, as is responsibility for the feature’s contents].

Warren Buffet who, on Saturday, announced that he  has thrown in the towel on the U. S. Airline industry for the second time by selling all of the airline holdings in the Berkshire Hathaway fund he manages, made a phrase very popular many years ago:  “Whenever you drain the swimming pool, you soon find out who has been swimming with no swimsuit on.”

Americans for Prosperity  (AFP) is firmly convinced that U. S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, by co-sponsoring a measure to provide $500 billion in funds to states and local governments to offset revenues lost as a result of the Corona virus, is essentially attempting to hook up a fire hose and re-flood the pool in Buffet’s analogy.  AFP contends financial irresponsibility (particularly entailing funding of pensions and using elevated assumed rates of return for public pensions) would be shielded through this bailout.  It would be much like swimming pool water conceals the existence of swimsuits (or lack thereof) by swimmers in a pool.  In essence, AFP contends that many states’ financial mismanagement, including Louisiana’s mismanagement, will be concealed via Cassidy’s massive bailout should it become law.

On Thursday (April 30, 2020), AFP-Louisiana, in concert with the national AFP organization, arranged a hastily-called virtual town hall to rally its army of volunteers to oppose Cassidy’s bailout measure.  Though there was little time to prepare for the town hall, it was nevertheless attended by 25,000 AFP activists expressing their frustration at Sen. Cassidy and his co-sponsor, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), for sponsoring the measure and urging members to contact their Senators and ask them to actively oppose the measure.  AFP also drafted a letter to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.  From the letter (emphasis on pension debt is our own):

We should be helping the people who are hurting, not bailing out politicians for irresponsible decisions they made prior to this crisis. But as we’ve seen before, lawmakers are using this crisis to jockey for handouts to pay for their past mistakes in the name of helping those who have been hit hardest.

States that have spent lavishly, borrowed excessively, and ignored looming pension debt should not use the current crisis to shift the cost of those bad policy decisions onto taxpayers in other states.

Illinois is case in point. Illinois has requested more than $41 billion in additional funding from the federal government on top of the $4.9 billion already provided by the CARES Act. Most of this would go to purposes not related to direct COVID-19 response, such as bailing out the state’s failing pension system.

Back to the swimming trunks analogy, let’s take just 1:24 to watch a video of the April 24, 2019 meeting of the Louisiana State Police Retirement Board (LSPRB) wherein its former Executive Director, Irwin Felps, Jr., admits that, unlike most private companies, which use a discount rate of 6% to compute the present value of its pension liabilities, the State of Louisiana uses 7%.  What is that the equivalent of?  Swimming in that Buffet pool with no trunks!  Now that the stock market has hit a snag (i.e. the water has been partially drained from the pool), it’s become obvious that states like New York, Illinois and, yes, Louisiana, have been swimming around in the pool with no trunks (as will be exposed as the system actually loses money from the stock market decline, much less “only” earn 6% instead of 7%).  Here’s the video:


April 24, 2019 LSPRB meeting during which then-Executive Director, Irwin Felps, Jr., readily admits that lowering the discount rate for plan assets from 7% to 6% (as Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera advocates and as most private companies already use) would have a “dramatic” adverse impact on the plan’s Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL).

Sen. Cassidy is obviously engaging in a very thinly-veiled effort to reward horrendously-bad fiscal management on the part of Louisiana’s political leaders by now bailing out that poor management.  When we published our feature entailing the 35% raises for certain LSP Troopers, we got an email from a “police officer’s wife” lambasting us and implicitly stating that we lean to be “pro-teacher” and “anti-LSP.”  We will remove her identity and reproduce the email at this time:

From:
Sent: Friday, June 7, 2019 5:54 PM
To: robert@soundoffla.com
Subject: LA State Police

 

I have some questions regarding your story about the LSP.  I have been told that the LSP has a self sustaining retirement system.  Your article implies that they rely on the state to fund their retirement system.  Every few years the state threatens to pool what I have been told was a thriving LSP retirement system with a failing teacher’s retirement system.  Does the LSP have it’s own self sustaining retirement system separate from teachers and other state employees and if so how is it funded?

 

You published several retiree salaries of the very upper echelon but you fail to mention that a starting trooper makes $46,000, about the same as a starting teacher. I assume that you don’t feel like someone who is putting their life in danger to keep you and your family safe is worth $100,000 per year.  Maybe you should ask someone who has lost their father, son, or brother in the line of duty how much their life was worth. The average life span of a police officer is 57-66 years.  The average life span of the general population is about 78 years. What is 12-20 years of your life worth to you?

 

Did you know that almost 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their life? In fact, more police officers die by suicide than by homicide  The ugly truth for our men and women in blue is that their mental deterioration is dismissed as an unalarming byproduct of their job. Research has shown time and again that police officer occupational stress is directly related to higher rates of heart disease, divorce, sick days taken, alcohol abuse, and major psychological illnesses such as acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorder.

 

I understand where you are coming from in the disgust with the method in which the raise was obtained and nobody is going to try to defend the integrity of Mike Edmonson because he has none, but the other 99.9% of the LSP had nothing to do with Edmonson’s shenanigans and that makes the job no less deserving of the salary.

 

Police Officer Wife

Now, we have no doubt that organizations like the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA) have falsely portrayed to their memberships that the system is a “self sustaining retirement system.”  That is a complete and utter falsehood!  The system receives substantial contributions from taxpayers as their share of contributions to the system!  It is that simple!  Heck, just listen to what Felps says beginning at the 0:56 mark of the above video (if the discount rate was lowered from 7% to 6%):  “The EMPLOYER contribution rate would increase dramatically.”  Who is that EMPLOYER?  It is the State of Louisiana which, in turn, are Louisiana’s taxpaying citizens.  So, the statement that LSP has a “self sustaining retirement system” is nothing short of LSTA propaganda, which that particular organization holds a patent on spreading!

The bottom line is that, whenever the LSP retirement system, Teachers retirement system, and LASERS engage in tactics such as Felps readily admits to above, all they’re doing is camouflaging the true level of the UAL and thus forcing an even larger taxpayer bailout required in the future!  It’s that simple, and by Felps’ own admission, that bailout amounts to “billions” of dollars!

We have no idea where this young lady got her commentary about LSP being a “thriving system” (though we suspect it’s from yet more brainwashing from LSTA officials), but the statement that the system is “thriving” is simply false.  All anyone has to do is examine its financial statements each year and look at the level of the UAL which, again, has been artificially kept too low by using too high of a discount rate versus that which Purpera advocates and that which private companies use.

Regarding the other commentary entailing us and our attitudes toward LSP, we do not discount for one second the risk LSP Troopers take in performing their jobs.  They have the potential to lose their lives on any given day.  We do take exception, however, with LSP misconduct, of which we have exposed and absolute plethora in our five years of existence.  To suggest that misconduct is limited to only 0.1% of LSP Troopers (or only about 12 Troopers in total) is not even close to being accurate; furthermore, within LSP’s own ranks, they know the problematic behavior extends far beyond 0.1% of active troopers, and it is from them where we get our leads for features, including the feature on the 35% pay raises linked above!

The final thing we take exception to is someone like former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson, who likely has the financial acumen of a bowling ball,  appearing before the Louisiana State Legislature conning them into granting those raises based on the utterly false statement that, “It will not cost taxpayers a dime.”  It’s disheartening that Legislators lacked the ability (or perhaps the desire?) to vet his statement because, not only have the raises themselves had to be funded through Louisiana taxpayers, but so will the massive increase in the LSP system’s UAL resulting from those massive raises.

It is just that kind of fiscal irresponsibility to which we take exception.  Further,  we make no apologies whatsoever for doing so.  We’re also proud to stand united with AFP in its efforts to stop the Federal bailout proposed by Cassidy.  In our opinion, an approval of his bailout proposal is essentially tantamount to re-flooding the Buffet swimming pool and letting the same sort of shenanigans outlined above entailing LSP and the other Louisiana retirement systems continue down the path they’ve taken for decades now!

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