Game change in Bayou Corne, lawyers now required in buyout process

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POSTED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 8:30pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 8:37pm

Time is up in Bayou Corne. Texas Brine can no longer talk about buyouts directly with people living there.

A federal judge in New Orleans gave Texas Brine until close of business Wednesday July 31 to try and wrap up deals with residents who don't have a lawyer.

63 out of 92 people said yes to a settlement. The rest have to get a lawyer if they want to continue fighting.

Bayou Corne homeowner Nick Romero hoped when he started buyout negotiations with Texas Brine he'd finally get some help to move on.

"I don't have an attorney yet. I've been trying to negotiate in good faith on my part. I think I've done that," Romero explained.

Romero said he never saw a deal he could accept.

"It's like you give a kid 10 cents and say go buy you a candy bar. That is about all they offered to me," Romero described. "They didn't come back with anything they're just peanuts peanuts."

He said the process left him disheartened: "There was no movement. it wasn't like we are serious. We want to negotiate. and we'd like to give you an offer that's reasonable."

People living in Bayou Corne are left going different ways. Some residents are participating in one of several lawsuits. Some residents have accepted offers and are moving on. Some residents lawyered up. Others still have to decide.

Bayou Corne property owner Dennis Landry got a lawyer back in May. He's gotten an offer from Texas Brine to settle, but he couldn't accept it. He says an attorney will help them get the deal they want, without having to go to court.

"I'm still hopeful something could be negotiated where I still feel like I am being treated fairly, yet I can keep my house stay here in Bayou Corne and be protected," Landry said.

Romero wants to move away. He is tired of worrying about a massive sinkhole and gas in his community.

"I get very little sleep, because all I do is think about this," Romero said. "People don't understand that this whole thing consumes you. "

He's worried it could be a long time before he gets the buyout money. Money he needs to make that move.

"April 14 of next year and we go to trial. You know how long it'll take after that," Romero said.

Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the sinkhole forming.

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