Bloomberg Law
Jan. 31, 2023, 9:23 PM

Baker Donelson Beats Malpractice Suit over Deepwater Horizon Row

David McAfee
David McAfee
Staff Correspondent

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has prevailed over a malpractice lawsuit brought by a company that invested $5.8 million in mass-tort litigation stemming from the BP oil spill.

A federal judge in Texas entered final judgment for Baker and against Duncan Litigation Investments LLC and owner Max Duncan. They accused Baker of professional negligence for allegedly fumbling a lawsuit against attorney Mikal Watts for his role in an alleged plan to seek investors to fund numerous claims against BP stemming from the explosion.

DLI’s suit failed due to the statute of limitations, and it sued Baker in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Judge George C. Hanks Jr. held that Baker owed no duty to DLI because in June 2014, Baker represented Duncan individually, but not DLI. Baker didn’t represent DLI until December 2014 in a separate case, well after Duncan signed the agreement to toll the statute of limitations in the case against Watts.

John Christopher Reynolds of Reynolds Frizzell LLP, counsel to Baker, said the firm is “pleased that the court agreed” with what the evidence “plainly” showed: that it didn’t owe a duty to DLI and instead only had one to Duncan himself in connection with a criminal investigation.

“Baker Donelson’s representation of Mr. Duncan was successful, in that he never became a target of the investigation, he was never required to testify, and he was never indicted,” Reynolds told Bloomberg Law Tuesday.

Duncan is represented by Meade & Neese LLP.

The case is Duncan Litig. Invs. LLC v. Baker, Donelson, S.D. Tex., No. 4:19-cv-3094, 1/30/23.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Nicholas Datlowe at