03 January 2012

cleco corporation vs samuel sansing, energy management services, l.l.c. and david keith pugh

we've noticed that since we've been posting some lawsuits and pleadings that we've been receiving some googlers from all over; we assume, judging from the keywords and search strings, looking for various types of pleadings to serve as a template for their own lawsuits.

most of these visits appear to be coming from private individuals but there are also some law firms.

back in 2009, louisiana supreme court chief justice, catherine d. "kitty" kimball, in her first address to the joint session of the louisiana legislature, told the lege, that "as the cost of litigation continues to be high and as the economy weakens more and more of our citizens who must utilize the court are trying to handle legal matters on their own."

this case should have something for just about everyone. there's motions to compel discovery, motions to extend time to respond, motions to recuse judges, tons of witness and deposition subpoenas and on and on.

there's even some la. code of civil procedure art. 971. special motion to strike, although an article 971 motion wasnt really applicable to this case; even if one were, compared to others that we've read, this one was horribly pled by mr. pugh's attorney, s. aaron siebeneicher (johnson & siebeneicher) and mr. sansings' timothy shumate (chris roy, sr.).

for the best chance for success an article 971 motion should be its own well briefed, stand alone motion. instead what happened here is the attorneys decided to include it, almost as an afterthought, in a motion for peremptory and dilatory exceptions and reconventional demand.

several of cleco's many attorneys richard a. rozanski, (wheelis & rozanski) and jennifer l. thornton, (stanley, fanagan & reuter), both of whom are freaking pit bulls, totally destroyed them in their opposition briefs and the trial court (judge george c. metoyer, jr.) eventually denied them.

we cant tell where the third circuit appeals court took it up on a supervisory writ -- although on page 623 the third circuit did grant a motion to strike for mr. sansing regarding "the references to the depositions of sonny craig and ned randolph and the affidavit of samuel sansing are hereby ordered stricken as they were not submitted to the trial court." but that doesnt appear to be related to the article 971 special motion to strike.

nevertheless, if you're looking for a template for an article 971 special motion to strike -- dont use this one. check this one out .pdf 16 pages [187 kb].

what this case boiled down to is that mr. sansing and mr. pugh both worked for cleco and when they left cleco's employ "cleco paid pugh a severance package of $76,668" and mr. sansing $175,000.00.

mr. sansing and mr. pugh were aware that cleco had been over billing or defrauding the city of alexandria and its electricity rate payers for many years amounting to millions of dollars.

so instead of going to the police and reporting it so that the police could investigate and the city and its rate payers could recover 100% of the over billings -- they go to the alexandria city council and its then mayor and in a complete abdication of their fiduciary duty to the city and its rate payers, they enter into an agreement with mr. sansing and mr. pugh to give them an incredible 50% of any money they recovered.

as you can imagine all this angered and likely frightened cleco and in one of the pleadings there is a vague reference to an unnamed alexandria city councilman who had a physical confrontation with an unnamed cleco employee at an unnamed local restaurant that happened right after cleco learned that the city had signed this contract with mr. sansing and mr. pugh and their energy management services, l.l.c.

cleco wanted their severance money back and didnt mind spending what must have amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to recover what amounted to around $252,000.00.

the louisiana supreme court is what saved mr. sansing and mr. pugh.

mr. sansing wanted cleco to produce "a certain document" which cleco declined and wanted a protective order which judge metoyer refused to grant and ordered cleco to produce the document.

cleco fought this all the way to the supreme court who remanded it back to judge metoyer and instructed him "to render a new ruling on cleco's motion for protective order, including specific findings on the applicability of the crime-fraud exception, after appropriate briefing from the parties and, if necessary, an additional in camera review of the privileged documents."

after the supremes ruling in mid may 2009, it appears that cleco abandoned the case as there has been no activity since.

click here or here to download 1,639 page .pdf [48.1 mb]