Kean Miller has contributed $20,000 to The Baton Rouge Area Foundation and its Hurricane Katrina Displaced Residents Fund. “Baton Rouge is our home. We work here, we live here, and we have been fortunate to work in partnership with The Baton Rouge Area Foundation for over 20 years,” said Gary A. Bezet, Managing Partner of the 106-lawyer firm.
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Click the links below to access important information on emergency orders from various Louisiana governmental and regulatory agencies: Posted September 28, 2005Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welch issues memo regarding special exceptions due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Posted September 28, 2005 Emergency Occupation of Hotel and Motel Rooms : Katrina and

Kean Miller Hawthorne D’Armond McCowan & Jarman, LLP has established the “Kean Miller Relief Fund” in association with the Capital Area United Way. The partners in Baton Rouge’s largest law firm seeded the fund with an initial donation of $50,000.00. The announcement was made at a September 8 meeting of the Capital Area United Way and following a presentation by the national CEO of United Way.
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Here are some links to sites offering avenues to help and hurricane relief information:

The American Red Cross is taking donations to help the thousands of
victims at http://www.redcross.org/donate/donate.html.

Following is a list of other Web sites offering disaster relief
Information –

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Phone: 1-800-621-FEMA
http://www.fema.gov

Louisiana Homeland Security
http://www.ohsep.louisiana.gov

Louisiana Governor’s Office
http://www.gov.state.la.us

Catholic Charities
Phone: 1-800-919-9338
http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org

FEMA Charity tips
http://www.fema.gov/rrr/help2.shtm

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
http://www.nvoad.org

Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
http://www.la-spca.org

Local Red Cross contacts –
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by Maureen Harbourt

Today the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued an emergency order effective for 60 days that suspends or modifies existing environmental requirements in many areas in order to facilitate response to Hurricane Katrina. The order applies in 25 parishes in the New Orleans to Baton Rouge area. Among the provisions are those

by Maureen N. Harbourt

That question was one of several issues addressed by EPA in its review of a Petition for Objection filed by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (“LEAN”) on Title V permits issued to ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Refinery. The Clean Air Act requires that a state agency give reasonable “opportunity for public comment and a hearing” on a draft Title V operating permit before the final permit is issued. In the ExxonMobil case, LEAN filed comments and requested a public hearing on several draft permits. LEAN was the only commenter and the only person requesting a hearing. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality denied the request for hearing, but did consider and respond to the comments submitted by LEAN. After LDEQ issued the permits, the environmental group petitioned EPA to formally object to the permits, citing as one of many grounds that LDEQ did not grant the hearing request.

On June 29, 2005, EPA denied LEAN’s petition. EPA indicated that an “opportunity” for a hearing does not mean that the DEQ had to actually grant the hearing. EPA said that while a request for a hearing by just one organization sometimes might be sufficient, “[g]iven the fact that Petitioners were the only commenters, LDEQ could have reasonably concluded that there was not sufficient public interest to hold a hearing on these permits.” The opinion also noted that although the LDEQ did not hold a public hearing, ExxonMobil held an informal open house for the public concerning the project, and that the agency had attended that meeting. According to the opinion, each agency must use reasonable judgment to review all of the facts, and the public informational meeting held by ExxonMobil may have played a part in LDEQ’s decision. The citizen group must show that the agency unreasonably exercised its discretion in order to prevail. The entire decision is available at http://www.epa.gov/region07/programs/artd/air/title5/petitiondb/petitions/exxonmobil_batonrouge_response2004.pdf.

Maureen Harbourt
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by Shannan Sweeney Rieger

If the terms “removal” and “fraudulent joinder” pique your interest, you will want to familiarize yourself with the recent United States Fifth Circuit Ruling in Boone v. Citigroup, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. 2005), 2005 WL 1581091 (5th Cir. (Miss.)).

In Boone, the Fifth Circuit explained its holding in its earlier en banc opinion in Smallwood v. Illinois Central Railroad Company, 385 F.3d 568 (5th Cir. 2004) (referred to as “Smallwood II”). Essentially, the Boone panel explained that a defense is considered to be a “common defense” under Smallwood II only when the showing or factual basis that demonstrates the applicability of the defense to the resident defendants, also necessarily demonstrates the applicability of the defense to all of the claims asserted against the non-resident defendants.

The Boone court reminded its readers that under Smallwood II, a removal based upon improper joinder should not be allowed when all of the defendants, both resident and non-resident, have interposed a “common defense.” Further, a defense is considered to be “common” under Smallwood II only when the showing or factual basis that demonstrates the applicability of the defense to the resident defendants also necessarily demonstrates the applicability of the defense to all claims asserted against the non-resident defendants.
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