On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Attorney Jonathan B. Andry from practicing law in the state for one year, imposing reciprocal discipline based on sanctions the attorney received in federal court stemming from his involvement in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Jonathan B. Andry,” with case no. 2023-B-00374.
Andry represented numerous claimants who filed lawsuits related to economic damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of suits were consolidated before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans in the multi-district litigation concerning the spill.
In 2013, Andry was accused of funneling $40,000 to an attorney working for the Court-Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) established to evaluate and pay economic claims related to the spill. Special Master Louis Freeh was appointed to investigate the matter. During Freeh’s investigation, Andry allegedly made false statements. Based on Freeh’s recommendation, Judge Barbier ordered Andry to show cause why he should not be barred from representing CSSP claimants going forward.
After a hearing, Judge Barbier determined Andry had violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct. Barbier disqualified Andry from participating in the CSSP or collecting fees from it. Andry appealed the decision to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing the district court misapplied the rules and the sanctions were too harsh, but the Fifth Circuit upheld Barbier’s ruling in 2016.
At Barbier’s direction, Freeh then filed a disciplinary complaint against Andry with the en banc Eastern District of Louisiana court. Following a hearing, the en banc court found Andry violated Rules 1.5(e), 8.4(a), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d) of the professional conduct rules and suspended him from practicing in the Eastern District for one year.
Andry again appealed to the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit upheld the Rule 8.4(d) violation but found errors in the applications of Rules 1.5(e) and 8.4(a). The Fifth Circuit remanded the matter back to the en banc court to determine an appropriate sanction for the Rule 8.4(d) violation alone.
On remand, the en banc Eastern District court suspended Andry for one year effective April 2022. The Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel then filed to initiate reciprocal discipline proceedings against Andry under Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XIX based on the federal sanctions.
In its November 15th ruling, the Louisiana Supreme Court found none of the exceptions under Rule XIX that would preclude imposing an identical one-year suspension in Louisiana. The Court said Andry’s conduct of making improper referral payments to another attorney involved in the spill litigation claims process warranted discipline.
Andry now has a one-year suspension on his Louisiana law license running concurrently with his federal suspension. The Louisiana sanction will allow Andry the possibility for reinstatement in both state and federal court upon its completion.
The Disposition states:
“Considering the Petition to Initiate Reciprocal Discipline Proceedings filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the record filed herein, it is ordered that respondent, Jonathan B. Andry, Louisiana Bar Roll number 20081, be and he hereby is suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year.”
According to avvo.com, Mr. Andry is an environmental and natural resources attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana. He acquired his law license in Louisiana in 1990.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.