Grandchildren of the late Judge Leander Perez, a segregationist political boss who ruled Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana from the twenties until his death in 1968, recently filed a so-called “legacy lawsuit” against several large oil companies for allegedly polluting land on which the family held mineral rights. The glaring problem with the plaintiffs’ case is that Perez stole the mineral rights in question from the Parish he controlled for over 40 years.
Although it was no secret that Perez was crooked, exactly how Perez and his family amassed their $80 million fortune remained a mystery until 1987. Suspecting Perez’s misdeeds, Plaquemines Parish later brought a lawsuit against him and his family.
The Parish could prove nothing until one of their lawyers decided to try sifting through the records from Perez’s son’s divorce. In the file, the Parish lawyer found a scrap of paper that referred to a company called Delta Development Inc. Delta Development Inc. turned out to be the company the Perez family had used to receive their oil royalties for decades.
Our big break in a case often comes from the unlikeliest of places. We always tell our clients to try to think outside the box when developing an asset search strategy because you don’t know what you don’t know. It just might be worth getting that old case out of archives or interviewing that former secretary.
In fact, much like in the Perez case, we rcently uncovered offshore companies holding assets at issue in a commercial litigation by reading through the public divorce filings of one of the defendant company’s executives. Our clients, who previously had no reason to suspect that their adversaries were conducting business through offshore companies, can now craft discovery demands that could reveal what we suspect may be a much larger network of hidden offshore companies and assets.