courts

A tentative agreement has been reached in a 2010 federal lawsuit that claimed New Orleans schools failed to fulfill obligations to students with a variety of disabilities — including autism, hyperactivity and bipolar disorder.

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey said in an order made public yesterday that an "agreement in principle" had been reached in the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of 10 students.

Settlement efforts had been going on for months.

Attorneys involved declined comment because the agreement is not yet final.

A trial date has been set for a civil rights case against state police who tackled two young African American men during last year’s Mardi Gras.

The federal case drew claims of excessive force and criticism of the troopers involved.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the incident was captured on surveillance video two days before Mardi Gras.

It prompted an internal State Police investigation that cleared all the officers involved.

A second audit into BP damage claims over its Gulf oil spill says the process is correct 99.5 percent of the time.

Nola.com reports the third-party audit was released by claims administrator Patrick Juneau.

It was requested by BP after the first report found last year that the program was running properly.

And a separate court-ordered check found only isolated claims of fraud.

No comment yet from BP.

The oil company has been battling to remove Juneau as claims administrator. It says settlements are tainted by fraud and mistakes.

Gay-rights advocates are challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban.

They’re asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.

In September, a federal judge in New Orleans upheld Louisiana's ban.

An appeal of that ruling is tentatively set to be argued in January at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

However, lawyers for gay rights groups said yesterday they have asked the Supreme Court to take the rare step of reviewing Louisiana's case ahead of those arguments.

BP is continuing its attempt to get rid of the administrator of damage claim settlements stemming from the 2010 oil spill.

The oil company filed notice yesterday that it plans an appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

BP has long complained about Patrick Juneau's administration of claims. It says he should be removed because of an alleged conflict of interest and other reasons.

But U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier last week rejected BP's arguments.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

On Tuesday, November 18, environmental reporter Bob Marshall of The Lens sat down with Gladstone Jones, the lead attorney in the lawsuit against oil and gas companies for coastal damages.

Gladstone Jones signed his contract with the levee board based on a sliding scale. The 16 lawyers on the levee board’s legal team will be paid between 22-32 percent, depending on the amount recovered.

After a federal judge ruled that BP's "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct" were to blame for 2010's huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the company was exposed to billions in federal fines. The company asked the judge last month to reconsider. And on Thursday, he said no.

The ruling against BP could trigger up to $18 billion in fines under the Clean Water Act — far more than the $3.5 billion the oil company has reportedly set aside for that purpose.

NPR's Jeff Brady reports:

Lawyers for dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies are heading to federal court in New Orleans.

They will be making their case for dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a levee board.

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East sued the companies last year. The board says coastal drilling and dredging has contributed to the loss of coastal wetlands that protect New Orleans from hurricanes.

Today’s hearing is before U.S. District Judge Nanette Brown.

Dan Machold / Flickr

Letters are going out this week to residents and businesses in New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish and the east bank of Jefferson Parish notifying them they could receive payments ranging from $1 to $463 for flood damage during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The money is coming from a $20 million settlement reached in 2009 with the East Jefferson, Orleans and Lake Borgne Basin levee districts.

anthony posey / Flickr

The Advocate reports that a federal hearing Monday may show who’s legally entitled to use the Zulu Mardi Gras krewe’s name on Facebook.

Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club Inc. filed suit against a former associate member for trademark infringement. The lawsuit says the man set up a “Zulu Mardi Gras” Facebook page, and used club trademarks without permission in an attempt to sell invitations to the Zulu Mardi Gras ball, spots on a Zulu float, and one of the club’s coveted coconut throws.

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