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Sinkhole attorneys requesting $12 million in legal fees

Lawyers who once represented residents in the Bayou Corne area during the Assumption Parish sinkhole lawsuit are requesting a whopping $12 million in litigation fees from a federal judge in New Orleans.

Overall, the attorneys would receive about 25 percent of $48.1 million settlement, that works out to be an hourly rate of more than $1,344 an hour, if the request is granted by U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey.

And that’s not all the attorneys are requesting.

According to the case’s special master, the attorneys are asking to be reimbursed for work costs via joint costs which totals an additional $291,566.

The original sinkhole case was led against Texas Brine, the Houston-based business which has been blamed for the sinkhole.

Louisiana Office of Conservation scientists believe years of salt domemining by Texas Brine triggered formation of the sinkhole when that mining got too close to the outer face of the dome. A breach opened up in the hollow cavern created by years of past mining and surrounding sediments filled the cavity.

The sinkhole’s formation also opened natural deposits of methane gas that pose an explosive risk, scientists claimed, if the invisible and odorless gas built up inside or under the homes. The threat of the sinkhole and the gas and the weight of an uncertain future led many in the community of 150 families to seek buyouts and leave.

Here are the four attorneys requesting the fees: Calvin Fayard Jr. of Fayard & Honeycutt in Denham Springs, Lawrence Centola III of Martzell & Bickford of New Orleans, Matthew Moreland of Becnel Law Firm of Reserve and Richard Perque of Richard Perque LLC.

The four attorneys said they would split the $12 million in fees evenly among each other. According to the Advocate, Zainey has yet to decide on the million dollar request.

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