Becnel apology demanded

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Attorney says Boh Bros. suit not premature



RESERVE — A class action lawsuit filed by Reserve attorney Daniel Becnel Jr. has drawn a furious response from Boh Bros. Construction Company, demanding a public apology from the nationally known trial lawyer, L’Observateur has learned.

However Becnel said on Tuesday that he is not backing down from the lawsuit, and is refusing to issue any public apology at this time.

Becnel filed a lawsuit last week following Hurricane Katrina, naming Boh Bros. as the culprit in the failure of levees and flood walls in New Orleans, which led to thousands of homes being flooded.

Becnel told L’Observateur in an exclusive story that he would also be following with other lawsuits against the Corps of Engineers, real estate companies, material suppliers and insurance companies, all in connection with the flooding that occurred.

However Boh Bros. sent a fax to L’Observateur late last week which was directed at Becnel, claiming they had nothing to do with the construction of the flood walls and levees. They demanded a public apology from Becnel, or they would file a counter suit.

On Tuesday, Becnel told L’Observateur that he named Boh Bros. due to “information received from Levee Board sources” and is still not certain Boh Bros. did not have any involvement in the projects.

“Due to the current situation here, it has been impossible to get into court records to review contracts about the construction of those levees and flood walls,” he said. “So we got information from the Levee Board sources telling us Boh Bros. was responsible, and we did not want to waste time with this lawsuit. We don’t want anyone to pull up evidence from the site and that is why they had to be named so early.”

“It was not premature to name them even if we still aren’t sure if they were involved or not,” he said. “We are protecting the interests of those involved.”

Boh Bros. initially responded on Sept. 21 to the lawsuit denouncing Becnel for even filing the lawsuit.

“It is deplorable that Mr. Becnel filed this baseless and frivolous lawsuit against Boh Bros. at a time when the company and its people are fighting to remove the water from the city of New Orleans and reopen the I-10 Twin Span bridges. Boh Bros. had no involvement in the project which is the subject of the lawsuit: the construction of the bridge which spans the 17th St. Canal and connects Old Hammond Highway and Robert E. Lee Blvd. Including the Boh Bros. name in this lawsuit, with no factual basis to do so, is a totally selfish action by Mr. Becnel designed to draw notoriety to his attempt to secure a large class action group.”

“Boh Bros. and its 1,000 displaced employees are working hard to restore New Orleans, our home for 96 years. The company will not be distracted from its mission by a trial attorney’s potshot,” the letter continued.

However the company apparently decided to go one step further after considering the lawsuit.

On Thursday, Sept. 22 they fired off a letter to Becnel threatening to sue if he did not publically apologize, and immediately drop Boh Bros. from the lawsuit.

The company told Becnel in the next letter that he should put his malpractice carrier on notice, and forward a copy of his insurance to the company.

“Your spurious allegations violate Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as the allegations are not ‘well grounded in fact’ and are completely false,” the letter stated. “Boh Brops. did not work on the reconstruction…and did not provide equipment, personnel or any type of construction assistance that it could possibly in any way relate to the construction project.”

The company required Becnel to file a motion and order of dismissal, and issue a public apology to Boh Bros. and its employees, which has to be approved by Boh Bros. in advance. The apology must also be carried in major state newspapers which ran the original story, and he must purchase air time on television stations if a press release is not reported about the lawsuit.

“Your filing of this frivolous lawsuit against Boh Bros. is nothing more than your ill-fated attempt to draw notoriety and unjust enrichments to you and your law firm,” Boh Bros. claimed.

On Tuesday, Boh Bros. Project Manager Rene Alvarez confirmed that Becnel has dismissed their company from the lawsuit, but they had not gotten word of any public apologies as of yet.

“Boh Bros. will issue a statement at the time when we feel Mr. Becnel has complied with the requirements in our letter,” he said.