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Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Rewarded with “Payoff” Alleges Attorney for Victims of 2005 Texas City Explosion

AUSTIN, Tex. (July 27, 2010) – Williams Hart Managing Partner, John Eddie Williams, Jr. voiced his concerns about the 2009 Texas Supreme Court decision in Entergy Gulf States v. John Summers today before a joint interim of the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee and the House Business and Industry Committee. Mr. Williams spoke as the committee begins to consider charges relating to third party liability issues. Third party liability issues were highlighted by cases as notorious as the Entergy case cited above, but also from cases such as the 2005 British Petroleum Plant Explosion in Texas City, Texas.

In the Entergy Gulf States v. John Summers decision, the court ruled that plant owners are granted immunity from liability for harm caused to third party contractors on their premises. “If this decision was the law in 2005 British Petroleum and others would have been granted immunity for the fifteen deaths and countless injuries caused when their Texas City plant exploded due to the companies universally condemned safety violations, some of which ultimately led to felony convictions.” Mr. Williams told the committee.

Williams, a past Texas Trial Lawyer Association president, presented along with fellow former TTLA president Nelson Roach. Mr. Williams pointed out to the committee that after years of decimating consumer protections at the Texas Supreme Court, Justice Scott Brister, who recently left the court to pursue a lucrative private practice, was recently hired as British Petroleum’s lead lawyer in the state of Texas. Former Justice Brister is now lobbying for venue for all lawsuits related to the Deep Water Horizon explosion to be heard in the state of Texas. Venue in Texas would allow British Petroleum to seek the immunity provided by the very laws drafted by its lead lawyer while he was a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court. “This is Justice Brister’s Payoff,” Williams alleged.

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