Louisiana news briefs
Charges in deadly Lafourche crash upgraded
THIBODAUX (AP) — State police say the driver blamed in a crash involving a 17-year-old just hours after his May 28 graduation has been booked with vehicular homicide after the teenager died over the weekend.
Michael Costello, 20, of Golden Meadow, was booked a second time into Lafourche Parish jail.
Trooper Evan Harrell says the charge of vehicular homicide comes when there is a death that was caused by some form of impairment.
Harrell says Costello’s blood is being tested.
State police says the graduate, Tyler Dufrene, was driving south on La. 1 when he was struck head-on by a pickup driven by Costello.
Costello was initially booked with first-degree vehicular negligent injury, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and failure to drive on the correct side of the road.
Complaints secret against Lafayette school head
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The Lafayette Parish School Board has voted to keep secret their complaints against Superintendent Pat Cooper, now under an attorney investigation.
The board voted last year to investigate Cooper. But the process was stalled until recently, when Baton Rouge attorney Dennis Blunt was hired. The resolution to hire Blunt did not specify the reasons for the investigation.
Several members appealed to their fellow board members to disclose to Cooper and the public those reasons, but a request to disclose the complaints in writing failed in a 3-5 vote Wednesday.
At the board’s May 21 meeting, its attorney warned members not to disclose any allegations because it was a personnel matter.
Court: BP must pay Clean Water Act fines for spill
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The owners of the blown-out Macondo well cannot avoid federal fines for the 2010 oil spill by blaming another company’s failed equipment, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The oil came from a well owned by BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., so they are liable, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. It upheld a 2012 ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who has scheduled a trial in January to help decide how much the oil giant owes in federal Clean Water Act penalties.
“We hope the court’s decision will be one more step toward reaching a just conclusion for the American people,” U.S. Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email.
Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the blowout preventer, pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor Clean Water Act violation and agreed to pay a $1 billion fine.
Anadarko is reviewing Wednesday’s ruling and its options, spokesman John Christiansen said in an email.
Loyola University law professor Blaine LeCesne said he doubts Anadarko will have to pay much, if anything, in Clean Water Act fines because its partnership gave BP complete control over how the well was drilled and run. In 2011, Anadarko agreed to pay BP $4 billion. BP said that payment would be part of its $20 billion fund to compensate people and businesses hurt by the spill.
BP had no comment on Wednesday’s ruling — the 5th Circuit’s second against the oil giant in less than two weeks. The court ordered BP on May 27 to resume paying claims while it asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review its settlement with some businesses. A 2-1 judgment putting that order into effect was filed May 28.
The companies argued that failure of Transocean's blowout preventer caused the explosion that killed 11 men on April 20, 2010, and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico until the well was capped that July 15. They also argued that although the oil was from their well, it got into the gulf from the pipe leading from the well to the rig. That riser was ripped apart when the blazing rig sank.
"It was a ridiculous and really desperate argument. It's no surprise the 5th Circuit made quick work of it and affirmed the district court's opinion," LeCesne said.
Shreveport doctor resigns from LSU governing board
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Shreveport doctor who leads a research foundation that manages two LSU hospitals has resigned from the university’s governing board nearly a year after the privatization deal took effect.
John George’s resignation from the LSU Board of Supervisors was effective Tuesday, but the university system didn’t announce the departure, providing the information only when questioned about it. George’s resignation letter gave no reason for the decision.
“I have enjoyed every meeting, every discussion, every challenge, and every victory. But, when it’s time, it’s time,” he wrote to the board in a letter dated May 27.
George is president and CEO of the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, which assumed management of LSU’s hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe in October under a no-bid contract.
first TV ad in U.S. Senate race
BATON ROUGE (AP) — U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy is launching his first TV ad in Louisiana’s Senate race next week, focusing on the Republican congressman’s opposition to the federal health care law.
The 30-second commercial, to run in the New Orleans area, was provided to The Associated Press by Cassidy’s campaign.
It shows Cassidy, a physician, in his doctor’s coat, with a stethoscope around his neck and a dog-eared copy of the federal health law in his hand. He says most members of Congress who voted for President Barack Obama’s health overhaul didn’t read the bill before passing it.
“It affects your job, your pocketbook, your life. And they didn’t read it. I read the bill. It was clear there’d be canceled plans, expensive premiums, no guarantee that you could keep your doctor. I voted no,” Cassidy says.
The ad strikes at a law that is extremely unpopular in Louisiana and that was supported by Cassidy’s Democratic opponent, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who faces at least three announced GOP challengers in her bid for a fourth term.
Landrieu has continued her strong advocacy for the health care overhaul, and her approval ratings have fallen sharply as outside groups have attacked her in radio, TV and online ads about her vote.
The election is Nov. 4.
Other Republican candidates include retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a political novice and tea party favorite, and state Rep. Paul Hollis, a first-term lawmaker. Cassidy is endorsed by the state GOP and is the front-runner among Republicans.
From The Associated Press.