Company looks to high court after its port facility was taken by St. Bernard, handed to competitor

by Ramon Antonio Vargas and Gordon Russell
The Advocate

March 18, 2016

For years, at its mile-long facility fronting the Mississippi River in St. Bernard Parish, the Violet Dock Port company moored and serviced U.S. Navy ships at three of its five deepwater berths, work that was generating healthy profits.

But it all came undone in 2010, just as the company had paid for expensive renovations to accommodate bulk cargo operations. That was when authorities in charge of St. Bernard Parish's port used Louisiana's eminent-domain laws and $16 million in state funds to seize the facility for a fraction of what the company claimed it was worth.

Read more...

Company looks to high court after its port facility was taken by St. Bernard, handed to competitor

Smith & Fawer Welcomes Sarah A. Lowman

Smith & Fawer Welcomes Sarah A. Lowman -

Smith & Fawer, LLC is proud to announce that Sarah Lowman has joined the firm as "of Counsel." Sarah, a 1987 graduate of Tulane Law School, brings thirty years of experience in the practice of law. Sarah will be focusing her practice on achieving justice for business and residential clients damaged by the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans' SELA drainage canal projects in Uptown New Orleans.

Smith & Fawer looks forward to adding the substantial litigation and trial experience of Sarah Lowman to the extensive complex litigation experience of the firm. Sarah's knowledge of the legal issues and litigation tactics surrounding inverse condemnation, strict liability, construction, and engineering cases will fit well with the firm's history of successfully handling expropriation, construction, real estate, and complex litigation matters.

Tom Benson deposition shows mental decline, Rita LeBlanc's lawyer says

By Katherine Sayre, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
May 20, 2016

Saints owner Tom Benson's assertion in a recent deposition that his estranged daughter and grandchildren "tried to kill me" is evidence that the 88-year-old is in mental decline and needs protection, an attorney for the estranged relatives said Friday (May 20).

"Obviously, my clients love Tom Benson," said attorney Randy Smith, who represents Benson's daughter, Renee Benson, and grandchildren, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc. "They've loved him their whole lives. ... Obviously, they never tried to kill him. Obviously, they've always loved him. This just shows what we've been saying, that they've been trying to protect him if he really thinks that.

Read more...

Tom Benson deposition shows mental decline, Rita LeBlanc's lawyer says

Louisiana Courts Uphold Additional Just Compensation Award of $525,000 to Landowner

On March 24, 2016, in a unanimous decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied LSU's appeal, affirming the lower court's judgment which awarded $525,000 in compensation to landowner, Michael P. Villavaso, whose property was taken to build the new University Medical Center. The $525,000 award Mr. Villavaso received is in addition to the approximately $175,000 which LSU deposited on his behalf as supposed just compensation. So, in total, the firm was successful in obtaining a result which was four times (4x) the deposit. This decision marks the fourth victory for Smith & Fawer against LSU and brings the total in judgments obtained on behalf of landowners to more than $10.5 million relative to this project alone. All four cases were tried by Mr. Smith. Click here to find out more about the other cases. Read the LASC and Fourth Circuit Opinions below:

Villavaso Fourth Circuit Opinion
Villavaso LASC Opinion

Tom Benson’s relatives ask Supreme Court to overturn unfavorable rulings in lower courts

Tom Benson’s relatives ask Supreme Court to overturn unfavorable rulings in lower courts -

By Ramon Antonio Vargas
The Advocate

March 23, 2016

The estranged relatives of Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson have asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to overturn two lower courts’ rulings rejecting their mental competency suit against the family patriarch.

Attorneys for Benson’s daughter and her children said they filed the Supreme Court appeal under seal Wednesday.

Read more...

Tom Benson’s relatives ask Supreme Court to overturn unfavorable rulings in lower courts

Smith & Fawer LLC presents SweetArts 2016

Smith & Fawer LLC presents SweetArts 2016 -

February 27, 2016

SweetArts 2016 is a prelude to the CAC’s 40th Anniversary Season. The event pays homage to the art, culture, and energy of the decade in which the CAC was founded—the 1970’s.

Presented for more than 30 years, SweetArts is a premier gala that supports the CAC’s mission to present diverse and exciting multidisciplinary arts programming, and that honors significant donors and artists for their recent contributions to the CAC and the local arts community.

Click here for more info:

Latest: Tom Benson mental competency case appeal ruling expected within a month

Latest: Tom Benson mental competency case appeal ruling expected within a month -

By Ramon Antonio Vargas
The Advocate

January 21, 2016

Update, 3 p.m.: A ruling in the mental competency case appeal involving Saints owner Tom Benson is expected within a month, attorneys on each side of the dispute said after a hearing Thursday.

Benson attended the hearing of the appeal in New Orleans on Thursday. So did those on the opposite side from him in the matter — his daughter, Renee Benson, and her children, Ryan and Rita LeBlanc.

The courtroom was closed to the public, and a bailiff barred media reporters from even entering the French Quarter courthouse, citing a judicial order.

Read more...

Latest: Tom Benson mental competency case appeal ruling expected within a month

Appellate Court Affirms Award of over $500,000 in Additional Compensation to Landowner

Click below to read Fourth Circuit Opinion

Appellate Court Affirms Award of over $500,000 in Additional Compensation to Landowner

Louis Congemi stays in Jefferson Parish Council race

Louis Congemi stays in Jefferson Parish Council race -

By Andrea Shaw
NOLA.com | Times-Picayune

September 21, 2015

Louis Congemi may continue running for a parishwide seat on the Jefferson Parish Council, a judge ruled Monday (Sept. 21). Congemi, a former council member who is running against incumbent Chris Roberts and former Councilman Jimmy Lawson for the Division A post, was sued by School Board member Ray St. Pierre over his qualifications for the Oct. 24 ballot.

Read more...

Louis Congemi stays in Jefferson Parish Council race

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn re-elected after challenger is tossed from race

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn re-elected after challenger is tossed from race -

By Jaquetta White
The Advocate

September 21, 2015

Ben Zahn was effectively re-elected to the Jefferson Parish Council from District 4 on Monday when his lone opponent was disqualified for not having paid fines she owed to the state Ethics Administration.

Meanwhile, former Kenner Mayor Louis Congemi survived an objection to his candidacy for one of the Parish Council’s two at-large seats, while one of his opponents — incumbent Councilman Chris Roberts — had one of two objections to his candidacy tossed out.

Read more...

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn re-elected after challenger is tossed from race

Saints' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's house is sinking, lawsuit claims

Saints' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's house is sinking, lawsuit claims -

By Andy Grimm
NOLA.com | Times-Picayune

August 17, 2015

If you thought Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is on shaky ground professionally if the Saints D puts up another lackluster season, things aren't much better at home.

The newly constructed $2 million Uptown home Ryan bought shortly after he was hired by the Saints in 2013 is sinking, according to a lawsuit he and his wife filed against the developer, builder and an engineering firm Monday (Aug. 17).

Read more...

Saints' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's house is sinking, lawsuit claims

After Smith & Fawer Obtained Injunction, Client Settles Dispute Over Future of Mardi Gras

After Smith & Fawer Obtained Injunction, Client Settles Dispute Over Future of Mardi Gras -

By Jaquetta White
The Advocate

August 16, 2015

An ongoing feud that has fractured the first family of New Orleans float-building for five years came to an end Friday.

Blaine Kern and his son, Barry, agreed before a Civil District Court judge to dismiss long-pending litigation that at one time threatened to derail several Carnival parades.

Read more...

After Smith & Fawer Obtained Injunction, Client Settles Dispute Over Future of Mardi Gras

Prosecutors faulted in reversal of Vegas mortgage fraud conviction

By Jeff German
Las Vegas Review-Journal

July 31, 2015

A federal appeals panel Friday ordered the dismissal of a mortgage fraud case against a lawyer who claimed he was charged after prosecutors falsely accused him of violating an immunity agreement.

Read more...

Prosecutors faulted in reversal of Vegas mortgage fraud conviction

Tom Benson's daughter, grandchildren appeal competency ruling

By Chevel Johnson
Associated Press

June 24, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The daughter and grandchildren of Tom Benson are appealing last week's ruling that found the Saints and Pelicans owner mentally competent to make his own business decisions.

Read more...

Tom Benson's daughter, grandchildren appeal competency ruling

Trial of Saints, Pelicans Owner Ends, Ruling Pending

Trial of Saints, Pelicans Owner Ends, Ruling Pending -

By Brett Martel
Associated Press

June 12, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson emerged from an eight-day trial on Friday predicting he would maintain control of his teams, despite arguments by his recently estranged heirs that he is unfit to do so.

Read more...

Trial of Saints, Pelicans owner ends, ruling pending

Attorney Randy Smith Talks with the Media at the Courthouse

June 12, 2015

Lawsuit challenging 2009 sale of Galatoire’s Restaurant is dismissed

By Ian McNulty
The Advocate

May 1, 2015

A lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the 2009 sale of Galatoire’s Restaurant, filed by two businessmen who had sought to buy the restaurant, was dismissed Thursday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Read more...

Lawsuit challenging 2009 sale of Galatoire’s Restaurant is dismissed

Appellate Court Amends Trial Court Judgment and Awards Landowners an Additional $1,600,000 in Just Compensation for Taking of Property

February 13, 2015

Click below to read Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal Order...

Appellate Court Amends Trial Court Judgment and Awards Landowners an Additional $1,600,000

Frank Fradella, businessman who bribed Nagin, sentenced to a year in prison

Frank Fradella, businessman who bribed Nagin, sentenced to a year in prison -

By Gordon Russell
The Advocate

February 12, 2015

Frank Fradella, former Mayor Ray Nagin’s leading bribe-payer and later one of the most devastating witnesses against him, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan.

Under a plea deal with the government signed in 2012, Fradella faced a maximum of five years.

Read more...

Frank Fradella, businessman who bribed Nagin, sentenced to a year in prison

Court of Appeal Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Hurricane Katrina Business-Interruption Award

February 11, 2015

Read more...

Court of Appeal Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Hurricane Katrina Business-Interruption Award

Tom Benson ordered to undergo doctors' evaluation in battle over his fortune

Tom Benson ordered to undergo doctors' evaluation in battle over his fortune -

By Andy Grimm
NOLA.com | Times-Picayune

February 10, 2015

Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson must undergo evaluations by three different doctors to decide whether the 87-year-old billionaire remains competent to control his business empire, a New Orleans judge ordered Tuesday (Feb. 10).

One doctor will be named by Benson and a second will be chosen by his daughter, Renee, and her children, Rita and Renee LeBlanc, who are seeking to take control of the teams after his death.

Read more...

Tom Benson ordered to undergo doctors' evaluation in battle over his fortune

St. Bernard DA Perry Nicosia seeks sanctions against plaintiffs who named him in civil RICO suit

St. Bernard DA Perry Nicosia seeks sanctions against plaintiffs who named him in civil RICO suit -

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

January 13, 2015

St. Bernard Parish District Attorney Perry Nicosia asked for sanctions in federal filings on Tuesday (Jan. 13) against plaintiffs who named him among the defendants in a civil racketeering suit.

It was Nicosia's first public legal response after he was added last month as a defendant in a federal civil suit alleging shakedowns in contracting for post-Hurricane Katrina debris removal in St. Bernard.

Read more...

St. Bernard DA Perry Nicosia seeks sanctions against plaintiffs who named him in civil RICO suit

Court Decision Favors 17th Street Canal Homeowners

(WWL Video: Sep 28, 2014)

By Jeff Adelson
The New Orleans Advocate

Sep 26, 2014

Homeowners near the 17th Street Canal could finally get their day in court in a 5-year-old lawsuit alleging a local levee authority had no right to take portions of their property to maintain flood control structures along the canal.

Read more...

Court Decision Favors 17th Street Canal Homeowners

Key Nagin Associate Greg Meffert Sentenced to 30 Months

September 5, 2014

Court Awards Over $525,000 In Additional Just Compensation, Attorneys Fees And Interest For Landowner In Expropriation Lawsuit

September 2, 2014

See attached judgments...

Court Awards Over $525,000 In Additional Just Compensation

Portion of 17th Street Canal Landowners Compensation Lawsuit Remains Alive, New Orleans Judge Rules

By Mark Schleifstein
NOLA.com
| The Times Picayune

July 22, 2014

A New Orleans judge last week dismissed the original damages lawsuit filed by landowners along one side of the 17th Street Canal against east bank levee officials, but allowed a reframed version of the same suit to remain alive.

Read more...

Portion of 17th Street Canal landowners compensation lawsuit remains alive, New Orleans judge rules

Firm Wins Jury Verdict For Homeowner In Excess Of $1M In Compensatory And Punitive Damages For Deceptive Lending And Appraisal Practices

June 12, 2014

After a 5-day trial, a Utah jury awarded Smith & Fawer’s client, a Utah Homeowner, in excess of $1M in compensatory and punitive damages, plus interest, in a lawsuit for deceptive trade practices and intentional misrepresentation against a major home mortgage lender. The court is currently determining whether the homeowner will also be entitled to recover his attorney’s fees, after Smith & Fawer proved that the mortgage lender acted in bad faith in dealing with the homeowner.

Read Judgment...

Utah Jury Awards Homeowner Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Deceptive Trade Practices Case

Houma Jury Awards Even More than Landowner Requests in Takings Case

April 25, 2014

After a 4-day trial, the Jury awarded about $1M plus interest more than the $200k+plus deposited by the Parish/State/Fed Hollywood Road widening project.and the extra $200k+ paid by the government on the eve of trial. Then the Judge added attorney's fees, expert fees and costs, which including interest, makes a verdict which stands to be worth over $1.5M in new money.

Read more (link below) and see this related article from HoumaToday.com.

Court awards over $1.5 million in takings case

Firm Awarded full Attorney's Fees and Costs in University Medical Center expropriation case

April 14, 2014

Read more...

Firm Awarded Full Attorney's Fees and Costs

Courts rule in third case state didn't provide fair compensation for University Medical Center properties

Courts rule in third case state didn't provide fair compensation for University Medical Center properties -

By Richard A. Webster, The Times-Picayune

February 27, 2014

The state low-balled the DEO Company when it paid the owners $230,000 for land it acquired to clear way for what will be the new University Medical Center off Tulane Avenue, an Orleans Parish jury has found.

It is the third such lawsuit brought to the courts by attorney Randall Smith, and in each case the juries have ruled in favor of property owners who claimed the state failed to offer them fair compensation as required by the Louisiana Constitution, Smith said.

Read more...

Courts rule in third case state didn't provide fair compensation

Former ATC Commissioner Painter found not guilty

by Bill Lodge, The Advocate

December 24, 2013

Murphy J. Painter, former commissioner of the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, was acquitted Friday in Baton Rouge on 29 counts of computer fraud and false statements to the FBI.

Painter had been accused of using confidential law enforcement databases to look up information on people who were not tied to any criminal investigations. He also was alleged in his indictment to have falsely told the FBI that all of the searches were for criminal justice purposes.

Read more...

Former ATC Commissioner Painter found not guilty

Appeals court rejects LSU's challenge to value placed on demolished Claiborne Towers building

Appeals court rejects LSU's challenge to value placed on demolished Claiborne Towers building -

By Bruce Eggler, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

June 19, 2013

An appellate court has upheld an Orleans Parish jury's decision that the state must pay the owners of the former Claiborne Towers or Grand Palace Hotel building at 1732 Canal St., imploded last year with great fanfare, more than twice as much as the state said the building was worth. The site will be part of the campus of the new University Medical Center.

Read more...

Appeals court rejects LSU's challenge to value placed on demolished Claiborne Towers building

$5 million-plus judgment affirmed by State Appellate Court

June 19, 2013

Read more...

$5 million-plus judgment affirmed by State Appellate Court

In Memoriam - Judge Charles Schwartz, Jr.

In Memoriam - Judge Charles Schwartz, Jr. -

Judge Charles Schwartz, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, died on November 3, 2012. He was 90 years old. Judge Schwartz was born in New Orleans...

Read more...

In Memoriam - Judge Charles Schwartz, Jr.

Firm Wins Appeal Court Affirmation of $6M Expropriation Award

UPDATED: On March 1, 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied writs, making the award final.

November 19, 2012

The Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court award to a group of St. Charles Parish landowners worth approximately $6,000,000, including interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. The landowners, represented by Smith & Fawer, were originally paid less than $50,000 by the State Department of Transportation and Development for the taking of their property.

FOX 8 legal analyst: Nagin has "big problems" on the horizon

FOX 8 Video - June 26, 2012

Grand Palace Hotel owners due $5 million-plus from state for property in hospital zone, judge says

Grand Palace Hotel owners due $5 million-plus from state for property in hospital zone, judge says -

by Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune

May 11, 2012

A New Orleans judge has certified a jury award ordering the state of Louisiana to pay an additional $5 million plus interest to owners of the old Grand Palace Hotel at the corner of Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street. The verdict is more than double the $4.5 million the state initially paid when it took the property at the corner of the new University Medical Center footprint using eminent domain powers.

Read more...

Grand Palace Hotel owners due $5 million-plus from state for property in hospital zone, judge says

Judge sides with Barry Kern again in family fight over float-building business

April 4, 2012 - Fox 8 Video

New Orleans, La. - The nasty legal fight over a famous float building business in New Orleans continues to drag on, with a trial looking more and more likely.

Firm Wins Jury Verdict In Takings Case

March 13, 2012

After a four-day trial, a unanimous jury in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, awarded the firm’s client, a property owner in New Orleans East, over $1,300,000.00 in additional compensation for the taking of a portion of their property for levee purposes, on top of the $175,000.00 that the Orleans Levee District tendered as compensation. Together with attorney’s fees, expert fees, and costs being sought, the total value of the attached Judgment would be about ten (10x) times what the Orleans Levee District considered just. This Judgment re-affirms the value of the right of property owners and businesses to contest, through the judicial system, the amount of compensation that governmental authorities tender as compensation for the taking of their property.

Read Judgment...

FIRM WINS JURY VERDICT IN TAKINGS CASE

City closes on deal to renovate Saenger Theatre

WWLTV.COM

December 29, 2011

The mayor's office has announced a financing deal for the $51 million renovation of the Saenger Theatre.
Construction is expected to begin on the theater next year, with a projected opening in spring 2013.

“This is a major step forward in our work to restore the iconic Saenger Theatre, a crown jewel of our city,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The work of this public-private partnership will create tens of millions in annual economic impact for our economy and will anchor the continued revitalization of Canal Street."

The renovations include restoring classic decorative elements of the theater and expanding the stagehouse, which will give room for larger productions.

Officials say financing for the project included public and private funds and a mix of federal and state tax credits.

“We have been shepherding this project since 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, so it is a joy to see it move to full construction,” said Randy Smith, Chairman of the Canal Street Development Corporation.

Smith & Fawer Wins Appeal Court Affirmation of Corporate Eviction

September 21, 2011

Read Appellate Court Decision:

Smith & Fawer Wins Appeal Court Affirmation of Corporate Eviction

17th Street Canal Land Lawsuit Can Go Ahead

17th Street Canal Land Lawsuit Can Go Ahead -

Bellaire Drive property owners win round in lawsuit over 17th Street Canal work

August 12, 2011


by Mark Schleifstein, The Times Picayune

A federal judge on Monday denied a request by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Orleans Levee District to throw out a lawsuit by New Orleans landowners angry that the two agencies took parts of their back yards without compensation to rebuild floodwalls along the 17th Street Canal.

Read more...

17th Street Canal Land Lawsuit Can Go Ahead

Gift to Junior League funds good decision-making projects for youth in New Orleans

Gift to Junior League funds good decision-making projects for youth in New Orleans -

By Allison Waldron
Lagniappe - Summer 2011


Randall Smith, local lawyer with Smith and Fawer LLC, saw that there were problems causing the youth of New Orleans to make bad decisions. These bad decisions led to jail time, delinquency and a lifetime of trouble. Smith decided that he wanted to do something to help these troubled youth and chose to make a remarkable gift of $50,000 to the Junior League of New Orleans in order to fund projects to help youth become better decision makers.

Read more...

Gift To Junior League

Colonial Country Club loses foreclosure ruling at appeals court

Colonial Country Club loses foreclosure ruling at appeals court -

June 15, 2011

By Michelle Hunter, The Times-Picayune

A state appeals court has reversed the injunction that halted the public auction of Colonial Golf & Country Club in Harahan.

Read more...

Colonial Country Club loses foreclosure ruling at appeals court

Shareholders Sue Whitney Bank

They oppose merger with Hancock
February 10, 2011

By Rebecca Mowbray, Business writer, The Times-Picayune

Whitney Holding Corp. shareholders have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court seeking to block the bank's merger with Hancock Holding Co., saying that the directors of the New Orleans bank may not have acted in shareholders' best interests.

Read more...

Shareholders Sue Whitney Bank

Rep. Cedric Richmond Picks Top Aides

Rep. Cedric Richmond Picks Top Aides -

The Times Picayune

January 8, 2011

Read article.

Cedric Richmond Picks Top Aides



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