Brent “Coondog” Coon, the Beaumont- and Houston-based plaintiff’s attorney who won millions from BP for his client Eva Rowe after her parents were killed in a plant explosion in Texas City in 2005 (which I wrote about in “ Eva vs. Goliath ,” July 2007), is now representing clients in the recent rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana. Talk to Coon for just five minutes and you can see that BP remains his Great White Whale—and that he’s an East Texas version of Captain Ahab.
What were your first thoughts when you heard about the explosion on the offshore rig in the gulf?
Must be a BP rig.
You know why. They are the most likely suspects—they have the most market share, and history has a tendency to repeat itself.
After CEO Lord Browne was forced out in May 2007 the new management promised a greener, safer BP. What happened?
They don’t change because they can’t change. Their corporate culture is so ingrained they would have to have a complete management turnover and get rid of their entire board as well. The way BP is set up now it’s an elitist company run by the aristocracy of Britain. This is truly the Knights of the Round Table, and they look at the world like King Arthur did. But while they can no longer dominate the surface of the world, they now want to dominate what’s under the surface. Global conquest, the idea that it’s all there for the taking. We’re all the peasants who are expendable. That’s the attitude.
And the new CEO, Tony Hayward, hasn’t changed any of the company’s practices?
Hayward set up the thing to get rid of Browne but just because you change the CEO doesn’t mean you change the infrastructure. How much changes in Washington when you get a new president? At BP, they hand pick [their leaders] and clone them. All the company wanted was another Lord Browne. Browne made them a ton of money. He put BP back on the map—that’s why they called him the Sun King. But in the process the company cut a lot of corners, overextended, and took unnecessary risks, and they all came home to roost.
Was your lawsuit the first one filed?
Ours wasn’t the first one filed but it was the first to ask for the restraining order. They can’t get rid of, lose, destroy, or misplace any documents related on this case. We’ve been called by everybody and his brother to work on this case.
Do you think BP’s lawyers’ hearts sank when they saw your name on the first lawsuit?
You know it probably didn’t make their day. But I think they presumed that they’d hear from me again.