Excerpt from the May, 2021 invoice submitted by the law firm Gold Weems clearly indicating that SMPG and Chester Cedars contemplated filing for injunctive relief against Lafayette Consolidated Government entailing the intent to remove spoil banks along the Vermillion River.
We have stressed several times entailing features that we’ve done on the St. Martin Parish Government that we were encouraged by a few attorneys and some citizens of St. Martin Parish to create this webpage of SMPG legal fees.
The cat is now somewhat out of the bag about who all may have wanted to have ready access to the legal fees and view them anonymously, but we’re now prepared to, at least partially, reveal the motivation behind obtaining these legal invoices and making them so readily available to the public.
At the March 15, 2022 SMPG specially-called Council meeting to deal with what Parish President Chester Cedars asserts is the improper removal of spoil banks along the Vermillion River, Cedars portrayed that he was essentially blindsided by that removal action by the Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG). Given Cedars’ contention, we find it interesting to review the invoices submitted in 2021 by the Alexandria-based law firm of Gold Weems to handle the LCG spoil bank removals. Let’s take a moment to highlight a few of the charges submitted to SMPG and the nature of those charges at this time (all charges through October 31, 2021 are readily assessable by clicking here):
05/26/2021 Michael J. OShee. Meet with Chester Cedars and Kasey Courville RE proposed Lafayette Project; prepare meeting notes. 200.00 2.30 05/26/2021 Michael J. OShee 200.00 0.80 Review drainage project materials; work on outline and basis for parish injunction. 05/26/2021 Michael J. OShee 200.00 1.20 Examine injunction case law RE prevention of acts in violation of law; examine servitude issues and injunction. 05/26/2021 Steven M. Oxenhandler 200.00 1.00 Met with Chester Cedars, St. Martin Parish President, and Kasey Couville, PW Director, about LCG’s proposal to remove spoil banks in St. Martin Parish and legal avenues to prevent the proposal. 05/27/2021 Michael J. OShee 200.00 1.50 Examine case law, civil code provisions and statutes RE public things, public use RE navigable rivers and banks of navigable water bodies. 05/27/2021 Michael J. OShee 200.00 2.40 Work on opposition to Lafayette project; draft arguments and legal theories.
So, it looks like SMPG gave some serious consideration to seeking injunctive relief against LCG. We can only speculate as to why they ultimately opted not to do so. One theory, however, is that, for the LCG matter, SMPG has retained a big-time law firm with approximately 27 attorneys on staff. Cedars and company knew the law firm they would be up against in challenging any such injunctive relief, and perhaps Gold Weems ultimately gave the guidance that any injunctive relief may be declared illegal, thus exposing SMPG to LCG’s legal fees.
In sharp contrast, in the Billy Broussard litigation [where SMPG did not hesitate to file Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) against Broussard], perhaps it was doubted Broussard had even retained legal counsel to deal with Cedars and that, further, the Durio Law Firm didn’t assess the filing of any such TROs as even potentially being illegal. Being blunt, we believe Cedars and/or Durio committed a serious error in failing to recognize the potential illegality of those TROs.
If it turns out those Broussard TROs are deemed by a court to be illegal (and we’ve certainly been advised that is a very likely outcome of SMPG v. Billy Broussard), we assume SMPG taxpayers will just have to “take it on the chin” and end up “eating” both parties’ legal fees in the matter.
At any rate, the mere fact that the injunctive relief was even contemplated seriously by SMPG, at least in our opinion, would seem to call into question the degree to which SMPG President Cedars was truly “blindsided” by LCG’s action!
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