Authorized Awards 2021: Profile – Walter Leger Jr

Walter Leger, Jr has been termed “a greater-than-daily life authorized legend” by BIZ Journal. The Louisiana Bar Journal, celebrating the 300th anniversary of New Orleans and Louisiana shown him as 1 of the 12 “Louisiana Legal Legends”. The other “legal legends” incorporated the very first governor of Louisiana, a US Supreme Court Main Justice, a Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice, and other historically well known Louisiana attorneys. He and the Louisiana Supreme Court docket Justice are the two only residing honorees. Considerably of this recognition has occur from his support to the neighborhood as very well as the authorized job and his shoppers.

The New Orleans Bar Journal in an post citing his substantial litigation expertise and his neighborhood assistance quoted Louisiana’s governor, a senator, and a well known information journalist. Former Governor Kathleen Blanco reported: “Walter Leger played an crucial part in the early decades of Louisiana’s restoration [from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita]. As an LRA Board Member he went higher than and past the phone of responsibility, travelling to our nation’s Funds to battle for the sources needed to support our individuals rebuild…”

US Senator Mary Landrieu mentioned of his work around the years: “Walter Leger is a pillar of the New Orleans community and a tireless advocate for our condition. From primary the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce to producing his mark as one particular of Louisiana’s finest lawyers, Walter provides an excellence to everything he does… Devoid of issue, Louisiana is a better spot mainly because of Walter Leger…”

More, WWL radio chat display host Garland Robinette – well known for championing the recovery from Hurricane Katrina – stated: “I’ve interviewed various Presidents, Mom Teresa, have recognized Popes … but I really do not feel I’ve satisfied anybody as incredible as Walter Leger.” (Editor’s Take note: Leger thinks that estimate is somewhat exaggerated).

The Path to Maritime Legislation

Walter Leger, Jr’s path to maritime regulation is not astonishing. His grandfather, Captain Mitchell Leger, was a troop and cargo ship captain during Entire world War II. He sailed largely in the European theater. His other grandfather was a sailor in United States Navy in the Pacific theater. Walter’s father, impressed by his father, turned a mariner as very well. He attended the Maritime University of New York. He was a member of the Navy reserve and sailed the higher seas in the Service provider Marine working his way up from Ordinary Seaman to ship’s Mate and finally acquiring a Ship Master’s License like his father before him.

Soon after relationship, he wished to remain nearer to house to raise his loved ones. In all those times mariners have been gone for lots of months at a time with no conversation back again dwelling. Just after numerous makes an attempt, the senior Walter Leger entered the apprentice system to develop into a Mississippi River Bar Pilot. These pilots immediate the procedure of huge seagoing ships from the Gulf of Mexico by way of the shallow waters of the mouth of the Mississippi River on the way upriver to various ports in New Orleans and further than.

Walter Leger, Jr has been referred to as “a bigger-than-life legal legend” by BIZ Journal.

The junior Leger experienced a youthful curiosity in community service and politics. But the “salt in his blood”, and his father, directed him towards maritime regulation. Immediately after graduating from large faculty with honors and obtaining quite a few honors whilst pursuing a degree from Louisiana State College, he graduated from Tulane University Faculty of Law with a concentration in Maritime Legislation. There he was Controlling Editor of the Tulane Maritime Legislation Journal and received the American Admiralty Regulation Institute Award for maximum grades.

Upon graduation and interviewing with key maritime regulation firms, he joined the Phelps Dunbar legislation agency in New Orleans, just one of the most notable and oldest maritime regulation firms in the United States. The aim of his early exercise associated the illustration of massive oceangoing ships, tugboats and barges on the Mississippi River and the thriving offshore oil exploration business in the coastal marsh waters of Louisiana and the deep waters offshore. He labored with what he viewed as to be some of the top rated maritime attorneys in the United States, and potentially the entire world.

He afterwards left to variety his personal agency joining up with a single of his former classmates, who had been at a further remarkably regarded maritime regulation business. In the years that adopted, Leger was involved in approximately each significant maritime litigation in Louisiana and the United States.

Considering the fact that 1981, Leger has been recognised as a “Proctor in Admiralty” by the Maritime Legislation Affiliation of the United States. He is a member of the Southeast Admiralty Regulation Institute and the maritime regulation sections of the American Association of Justice, the Louisiana Association of Justice and other bar organizations. Around the years he has lectured extensively and prepared on maritime regulation and advanced litigation subjects at Harvard Law Faculty, Tulane Legislation Faculty, Loyola Legislation School, the College of New Orleans, LSU Regulation University, and numerous law associations. He is Previous President of the New Orleans Bar Association and the New Orleans Bar Basis and has served in a lot of capacities in other bar and lawful associations.

Leger was involved in practically each significant maritime litigation in Louisiana and the United States.

Notable Maritime Conditions

Notably, Leger was Unique Trial Counsel in the rather the latest BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill circumstance and was a member of the Section I and Period II Demo Crew. He was the guide negotiator on behalf of Louisiana nearby governments in the historic authorities settlements with BP. He represented hundreds of enterprises, citizens, and governments in the litigation. In the early stages of the litigation, Leger was requested by US Senator Mary Landrieu to function with and advise legal professional Kenneth Feinberg, who had been brought in by BP to endeavor to acquire a mass settlement with the quite a few claimants included. Ultimately, this plan and the successor plan exceeded additional than $65 billion to businesses, fishermen, and govt entities. This case is undoubtedly the premier maritime environmental catastrophe in record. As aspect of the discovery staff, Leger and other folks travelled to London to depose corporate executives of BP in addition to the 300 depositions taken in New Orleans.

But Leger’s involvement in high profile maritime disasters dates to 1980 when a Peruvian cargo ship, the M/V INCA TUPAC YUPANQUI, misplaced steerage and collided with a butane barge on the Mississippi River. Leger experienced only months ahead of shaped his personal organization and was asked by a law firm representing 3 of the horribly hurt and burned Peruvian seamen to depict them. He experienced previously represented generally vessel and shipowner pursuits. The circumstance was anything but regimen, as it turned out that the ship was owned by the Peruvian government, and the collision turned a main political problem in the very first presidential elections in Peru in a lot of several years.

The young law firm abruptly discovered himself towards a lot of of the major maritime legal professionals in the region. Right after weeks of depositions in New Orleans, attorneys travelled to Peru and Germany for depositions. The youthful Leger experienced to borrow cash to finance the vacation and litigation. Though in Peru, they confronted demonstrations and political intrigue.

The young lawyer suddenly observed himself against quite a few of the top maritime lawyers in the state.

One particular of the far more mysterious conditions in which Leger was included was the case of the M/V POET. The POET, a cargo ship with 25 crewmen, still left the port of Philadelphia bound for Egypt. It disappeared and was never read from yet again. The most in depth search in maritime historical past followed. Absolutely nothing was at any time uncovered. Leger represented the family members of 5 of the crew users. There was by no means actual closure for them, as rumors circulated in the information media and in the maritime group that possibly the ship experienced been concerned in the well-known “arms for hostages” scandal or that it experienced been taken by pirates. This disappearance continues to be 1 of the mysteries of the sea.

A somewhat minimal collision of two ships on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet produced a situation of big authorized import. When the M/V TESTBANK and the M/V SEA DANIEL collided, a container total of toxic chemical compounds spilled into the waters of the Gulf Outlet, causing harmful exposure to the vital seafood, shrimping and oyster sector in that place. Leger was appointed chairman of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee by the Federal Decide overseeing the situation. The situation involved extra than 50 lawyers and thousands of members of the seafood sector.

When the courtroom finally ruled in favor of claims of oystermen and fishermen, it traditionally denied the claims of land-primarily based seafood restaurants, marinas, deal with outlets, and so forth. which had sustained economic losses but no actual physical damage. The ruling was based mostly on a long-held maritime notion regarded as the Robins Drydock rule. Leger appealed the situation to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and in the end the attraction was heard en banc. To this day, this circumstance and its progeny continue to guideline the determination of financial reduction and enterprise damages in maritime scenarios.

Apparently, the unfairness of the TESTBANK/Robins Drydock rule was highlighted in the legal aftermath of the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill in Alaska, which led Congress to go the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 – which eventually played this sort of an important function in the BP/DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill.

To this working day, this case and its progeny proceed to manual the perseverance of economic reduction and business enterprise damages in maritime situations.

In 1997, 10 purchasing times in advance of Xmas, a Chinese freighter – the M/V BRIGHTFILD – misplaced steering power on the Mississippi River and crashed into a buying middle found on the riverfront in downtown New Orleans. Leger was appointed by the federal district decide as Co-Lead Counsel on behalf of the many corporations ruined. It was determined that the ship was owned by the communist Chinese government. Leger proved that the captain and officers of the ship had lied under oath before the United States Coast Guard and experienced wrecked logs and documents of the ship. The litigation workforce travelled to Hong Kong to depose and expose company officials of the CCP possession.

Other noteworthy maritime circumstances managed by Leger contain the M/V TEXACO NORTH DAKOTA (an oil tanker which strike a submit hurricane ruined and unlit oil system off the coast of Louisiana when headed to Texas, ensuing in a fiery explosion.) M/V Skip CHRIS/Claiborne Ave. Bridge (an allision and collapse of a motor car bridge involving a tug and barge around a ship channel) M/V LEE III/M/V ZIM MEXICO III (A collision in the Southwest Go of the Mississippi River resulting in the fatalities of the entire crew of a single of the vessels and closure of the river and port) and M/V MEL OLIVER / M/V TINTAMARA (Leger was appointed by the Federal Decide as a member of the Claimants’ Steering Committee, symbolizing firms and governmental entities harmed mainly because of the collision of a ship and barges causing a large oil spill in the Mississippi River).

He presently represents the family members of 3 of the adult males who perished in the capsizing and sinking of the M/V SEACOR Electrical power in the Gulf of Mexico off the coastline of Louisiana in 2021.

Leger has represented people today, corporations, port authorities, towing corporations, barge entrepreneurs, shipyards, and ship pilots, officers, and crew in courts and Coastline Guard and Nationwide Transportation Protection Board hearings.

Other Notable Conditions

Leger’s knowledge and leadership extends significantly beyond admiralty and maritime law. In the historic Castano v American Tobacco litigation, he served on the Demo Crew, Discovery Committee, Science Committee and Administrative Committee. This situation was introduced towards the tobacco and cigarette field in a lot of states. Leger also served as counsel to the Legal professional General of the point out of Louisiana, in litigation in opposition to the tobacco market. The Castano litigation and the Legal professional Normal lawsuits resulted in the most significant settlement in history at about $250 billion on behalf of the various states.

The Scott v. American Tobacco litigation was a course motion tried out towards the tobacco industry. Leger was one particular of the Trial Workforce leaders. The situation, from jury selection to verdict, took close to a few many years to check out. It stands as the longest jury demo in the historical past of Louisiana and resulted in a verdict of about $600 million. The judgment now money cigarette smoking cessation systems in the point out of Louisiana.

In Louisiana breast implant litigation, Leger was Class Counsel. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, he was appointed to Plaintiffs’ Lawful Committee in the Murphy oil spill litigation. He was appointed to Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee in the Schooling Tests Products and services litigation. In the Billieson lead paint course motion, he was appointed as Class Counsel. Leger was also a member of F Lee Bailey’s Litigation Sub-Committee in the Union Carbide catastrophe in Bhopal, India.

He now serves as Co-Direct Counsel in the litigation encompassing the collapse of the Hard Rock Resort in New Orleans, involving injuries to hundreds of men and women and reduction of organization and residence destruction to several corporations in the vicinity of the web page.

Leger represents several Louisiana neighborhood governments in the nationwide prescription opioid litigation. He is concerned in coordinating just about 200 local governments in Louisiana about settlement discussions and growth of long run litigation technique.

He also serves as class counsel in course actions in opposition to the insurance field following losses sustained since of Hurricane Ida in South Louisiana.

Civic Leadership

Leger has actively served the persons of his neighborhood and Louisiana. He was appointed by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans and the Board of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.

He is a previous Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce, Co-Chairman of the MetroVision Regional Financial Enhancement Partnership and the St Bernard Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Louisiana Committee of 100 for Economic Progress, the Southeast Louisiana Business enterprise Council Coalition, the New Orleans/Baton Rouge Super Location Committee, and the Board of Trustees of the Greater New Orleans Basis and the Louisiana Cancer Research Middle. He was Chairman of the St Bernard Economic Advancement Basis/Commission. He was a Founding Director of GNO Inc.

In addition to assistance as Vice-Chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Chair of the Louisiana Land Have faith in and Co-Chair of the St Bernard Citizen’s Restoration Committee, he has served on the Boards of the Planet Trade Centre, the New Orleans Bar Affiliation, the New Orleans Bar Foundation, the LSU Well being Science Centre Foundation, the Delgado Neighborhood University Basis, Nunez Local community School Basis, Tulane Most cancers Centre, LSU Cancer Middle, and the Louisiana Most cancers Study Middle.

Leger has actively served the people of his group and Louisiana.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Leger was appointed by Governor Kathleen Blanco to the Louisiana Recovery Authority where by, in accordance to the Governor, he travelled “to our nation’s funds to assist struggle for sources necessary to assistance our people rebuild. Walter produced an know-how in answering challenging concerns in ways people today could value and have an understanding of.…”

Governor Bobby Jindal re-appointed Leger and he served as Vice-Chairman. He was also appointed by both equally Governors to provide as Chairman of the Louisiana Land Have faith in and by Mayor Mitch Landrieu to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA).

Leger turned perfectly known as the co-host with Garland Robinette of a WWL radio clearly show on hurricane restoration challenges, prompting Robinette’s gratuitous remarks quoted previously mentioned.

Leger also testified prior to the US Senate Sub-Committee on Catastrophe Restoration, whose contributors bundled Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Joseph Lieberman, and Senator Barack Obama. Leger appeared on behalf of the property owners of Louisiana right before 5 Congressional and Senate committees and sub-committees and satisfied a lot of occasions with Senate and Dwelling of Reps employees and committee staffs, and with US Senators, Congressmen, and editorial and news personnel of the New York Occasions, Washington Put up, United states of america These days, Boston World, Los Angeles Situations and Affiliated Press. He has also produced appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, PBS, LPB and various neighborhood and national tv and radio stations.

Today he is normally consulted by associates of the media for his skills on maritime and intricate litigation challenges.

Leger is a previous President and section-operator of the New Orleans Zephyrs Triple A Specialist Baseball Group and the New Orleans Storm Expert Soccer crew.

Awards and Recognitions

Leger was a finalist for the “National Attorney of the Year” Award, has been named to Louisiana “SuperLawyers”, Citybusiness Newspaper’s “Leaders in Legislation Corridor of Fame” and Ideal Attorneys in The usa (Admiralty and Maritime Legislation). He received the “President’s Awards” for management and public support from the New Orleans Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Louisiana Association of Justice. The Louisiana Condition Bar Association has provided him its “Citizen Law firm Award”. BIZ Magazine a short while ago named him as one particular of 35 legal professionals in the checklist of “New Orleans 500”.

Today he is typically consulted by customers of the media for his abilities on maritime and advanced litigation concerns.

He has been named “Volunteer of the Year” by both equally the Southern Economic Progress Council and the Louisiana Industrial Advancement Executives Association. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Culture named him “Man of the Year”. A two-time most cancers survivor, he was named one of the “Survivors of the Year” by the Cancer Crusaders.

He and his youthful son, now Captain Rhett Leger (nowadays a Mississippi River Bar Pilot), received commendations from the US Coastline Guard for “Rescue and Lifetime Saving” for venturing out into rough seas to rescue 3 persons whose boat had sunk.


Walter J Leger, Jr

Leger & Shaw

New Orleans Exchange, 935 Gravier Street, Suite 2150, New Orleans LA 70112

Tel: +1 504-588-9043

E: [email protected]