NEW ORLEANS – A former Deepwater Horizon claims settlement attorney who was accused by court appointee Louis Freeh of committing felonies has filed a defamation suit claiming he destroyed her legal career.
Christine Reitano, once a top deputy for Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau, filed suit this week against Freeh and Freeh Group International Solutions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit, which seeks in excess of $75,000 in damages, accuses Freeh of disparaging Reitano’s name and willfully ignoring evidence that she had done nothing wrong – a conclusion ultimately reached by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the Deepwater Horizon settlement.
Freeh’s accusation of wrongdoing against Reitano appears to have been made on the basis of a single sworn statement made to his investigators by a private lawyer. In that statement, the lawyer allegedly said that Reitano sought a kickback in a claims case. By Freeh’s own admission, the lawyer’s statement was not recorded but was reconstructed from investigative notes.
The private lawyer later filed a sworn statement in court saying that Freeh’s recounting of what she had said was entirely inaccurate. In a subsequent hearing, Barbier observed from the bench that Freeh had no evidence Reitano had done anything wrong. However, Reitano claims the damage had already been done.
Baton Rouge-based attorney Mary Olive Pierson, who is representing Reitano in the matter, said Reitano’s personal and professional life are in shambles.
“Ms. Reitano, she has been ruined,” Pierson said. “She can’t even get a job.”
Freeh has never recanted his original allegations, though attorney Greg Paw, who has taken the lead in the case on behalf of Freeh Group International Solutions, admitted to Barbier that there is no evidence Reitano did anything wrong.
Pierson said the suit is the result of Freeh’s failure to admit to a mistake.
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by Neil McCabe
When you are rich and in big trouble in America, the kind of trouble that could mean jail, millions in legal settlements and the kind of publicity that puts you 24-hours-a-day on talk radio, cable news and late night monologues–you call Louis L. Freeh.
Freeh, the former federal judge and the man whose rocky leadership of the FBI was part of the sound track of the presidency of William J. Clinton, has developed a very fine business in privatized justice.
Once hired, the former FBI director investigates you and produces a public relations-focused report with a generous narrative of your actions and packed with recommendations for you to follow in the future.
At the press conference, you express your contrition and the story is over.
There is no better example of how Freeh monetized justice and gavels open and closed the court of public opinion than his dealing with Penn State’s and sexual molestation.
The Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University in an Oct. 28 meeting at the school’s University Park campus turned back an attempt to reopen Freeh’s investigation of the former Penn State coach Gerald A. “Jerry” Sandusky’s sexual abuse of minors scandal that rocked the school three years ago.
Many people would be surprised to learn that despite the public relations campaign in support of the report and the trustees handling of the scandal waged by Kekst & Company, the New York-based powerhouse, the trustees have not officially accepted Freeh’s report.
Given the opportunity Oct. 28, they only agreed to continue to look into the situation and to leave it be.
Trustee Albert T. Lord had proposed at the last meeting that a four-person panel, including himself, meet with Freeh and his team review its findings and methods.
Lord said he was especially incensed that the NCAA based its punishment of the college: “on a foundation of scant evidence, the report adds layers of conjecture and supposition to create a portrait of fault, complicity and malfeasance that could well be at odds with the truth…”
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