GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Two Texas attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three Mississippi businessmen who argue they are owed $7.9 million for steering to the lawyers thousands of people seeking to resolve claims against BP from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Gulf Coast businessmen Scott Walker, Kirk Ladner and Steve Seymour, who is also a Hancock County supervisor, filed the lawsuit in October in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Attorneys Michael Pohl and Jimmy Williamson, both of Houston, Texas, filed separate motions to dismiss on Dec. 22 in federal court. Final briefs in the lawsuit are scheduled to be filed on or before Jan. 20.
The lawsuit alleges Walker, Ladner and Seymour steered 9,486 clients to the lawyers. The lawsuit says the three got some money but are still owed $7.9 million.
In the motions to dismiss, Pohl and Williamson deny the allegations in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Pohl and Williamson formed a joint venture to represent clients injured by the BP oil catastrophe from spring through summer 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
Walker and the others argue in their lawsuit that as a result of their efforts, “many seafood restaurants and seafood dealers and other oil spill claimants in Maryland, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama signed contracts to be represented” Pohl and Williamson related to their BP oil spill claims.
Under their contracts with Pohl and Williamson, Seymour, Walker, and Ladner were to be paid $1,500 an hour, the lawsuit said.
However, Pohl and Williamson argue they never agreed to such payments and such payments are not found anywhere in the parties’ written contracts.
“The essence of the plaintiffs’ claims appears to be that the plaintiffs agreed to accept or accepted money to improperly solicit BP clients for Pohl and Williamson,” the motions to dismiss say. “It is illegal for a non-lawyer to accept or agree to accept money to improperly solicit clients for a lawyer. Under both Texas and Mississippi Law, a claimant may not recover under any theory for illegal conduct.”