Attorney Mikal Watts Resigns, Shuts Down Puerto Rico Business

Large-profile mass tort regulation organization Watts Guerra, helmed by lawyer Mikal Watts, is shutting down its office environment in Puerto Rico and laying off at least 50 personnel according to e-mails reviewed by Bloomberg Legislation.

Watts, who is recognised for top massive-dollar, multi-district litigation in opposition to companies, advised Bloomberg Legislation very last thirty day period that he was “restructuring” Watts Guerra but did not intend to go away. But according to e-mail offered to Bloomberg Legislation, Watts despatched a companywide email saying that he was resigning from the organization for wellbeing explanations on Jan. 7. Watts then instructed Bloomberg Legislation that he and Guerra are separating and he will carry on to practice law and take care of his circumstances.

On Jan. 19, employees in the Puerto Rico office received a recognize that Watts Guerra would begin “mass layoffs” that will influence at least 50 employees and at minimum 33% of its workforce. About 110 employees do the job in the Puerto Rico office and take care of substantially of the scenario administration for Watts Guerra’s countless numbers of purchasers, reported the employee who shared the e-mail. Watts explained the other places of work also have administrative staff members. The personnel declined to be named because of to anxiety of retribution.

Watts explained to Bloomberg Legislation that he and Guerra had been separating and as of this morning his new legislation firm started operations. He claimed subject matter to his clients’ acceptance, he will be preserving most of the mass tort circumstances and Guerra will take the particular person own personal injury docket.

Watts said that he’s referred employees to other legislation firms in Puerto Rico to assistance them get new employment and he will retain some workers in the space but does not know how a lot of at this time.

Deal with of Mass Torts

Watts Guerra is among the companies dealing with some of the major ongoing torts which includes h2o contamination at the Camp Lejeune Marine base resulting in most cancers, and allegations of carelessness from Hawaiian Electric powered creating lethal wildfires in Maui, and Johnson & Johnson talcum merchandise linked to cancer. Watts is often the confront of these circumstances, showing in court and speaking to the media.

He signifies close to 16,000 J&J talc claimants and is element of the team of lawyers supporting a $8.9 billion proposed settlement.

In an email sent to staff members on Jan. 8, the working day soon after Watts introduced his resignation, capital associate Frank Guerra and partner Alicia O’Neill wrote, “I know that several of you do not know Frank as perfectly as you know Mikal—and that this may possibly be a scary time – but you can rest confident that I do. He is kind, specialist and a fierce advocate for our customers and for every and just about every one of us. I would go into any fight, any time with him. He wouldn’t even have to tell me who we have been combating. You all are protected to do the very same.”

Considerably less than two weeks later on, a layoff detect was despatched to personnel. The observe, which was signed by Watts, mentioned the layoffs ended up a preamble to closing of its functions in Puerto Rico by the close of 2024. He wrote that workers really should take into consideration the layoff to be permanent. They will begin layoffs on March 20, 2024 and could occur in levels.

Concerning severance, the letter states, “it will rely.” Every single personnel will receive discover of termination on or just before the last working day of 2024. Watts Guerra will give a voluntary separation payment to staff that execute and do not revoke a separation agreement and normal release.

In 2015, he was amongst 7 men and women charged with fabricating thousands of consumers in a bid to obtain payouts from BP arising from a settlement above its 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Watts and four co-defendants were being acquitted.

Previous calendar year, he spoke at the semi-annual meeting Mass Torts Created Fantastic and was vociferous about the prevalence of bogus claims staying submitted in huge mass torts. He outlined the way revenue travels—from litigation funders to law companies and then eventually to lead generators—who at moments indication up shoppers offering faux details. He explained he and his agency audited their leads and identified “hundreds and hundreds” were being bogus.