I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BP Oil Spill Litigation Representation for Escambia School Board--The Short List is Getting Shorter

The task of finding appropriate representation for the School District in our claim against BP has been ongoing.  Finding the right firm to tackle this complex matter has been a very high priority for the School Board since last summer when it was apparent that the district was going to be suffering economic losses due to the oil spill.

Initially, last September, the knee jerk idea that the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) put forth was for Escambia County Schools to join forces with a group of attorneys from Tampa, Houston, and Panama City that the FSBA had "assembled."  They said  "These are the firms we recommend for you"

I immediately took issue with this proposal and said I would not support out-of-area firms getting the job unless local firms got a look first.  Stiffing locally owned and operated, well qualified mass-tort firms to hire out-of-towners did not sit well with me. 

At a meeting of the full board, the guidance given to our attorney was to cast a wide net and look at all firms--not just the FSBA's hand-selected group.

Since then, our Attorney, Mrs. Donna Waters has served on a committee with her counterparts from the BOCC charged with selection of several qualified firms that could represent both the BOCC and the ECSD.

The School Board will not be bound by this committee's recommendations, and it is my understanding that the BOCC is not bound by these two recommended firms either.

However, these firms have gone through a rigorous vetting process and it is believed that these are the best of the more than a dozen entities who expressed interest in this matter.

The following are the two law firms that emerged from the joint BOCC and ECSD committee as well qualified to represent us in our attempts to seek restitution from BP:

--Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. and McDonald, Fleming, Moorhead, Ferguson, Green, Smith & Dekozan, LLP

--Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor P.A.

Here is the email Board Members received from Mrs. Waters:

>>> Donna Waters 04/27/11 10:12 AM >>>


Good Morning:

As you know, yesterday I participated in Escambia County's review of proposals for attorney services in the BP matter. I am attaching the notice from the committee as to the selection of two firms, whose names will be forwarded to the BOCC for a final decision. I would point out that both are well-established Pensacola firms which have associated with out-of-state specialists in mass tort litigation. This allows the matter to be handled locally, yet the resources of larger firms will be available when needed.

I will be in further contact with these two firms to discuss specifics re representation of the school board, and I will update you as events occur.

If you are would like to see the materials provided by the two firms, I have placed copies in Ms. West's office for your convenience. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Donna Sessions Waters

General Counsel
Escambia County School Board
75 North Pace Boulevard
Pensacola, Florida 32505

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