My Toughest Case: The case of Mossy Motos vs. the Sewerage and Water Board over business interruption and destruction of property


Miles P. Clements, Esq.

Energy Law

Senior Member, Frilot, L.L.C.

39 years in practice

B.A. Tulane University
J.D. Tulane University Law School

 In Miles P. Clements’ almost four-decade-long career he has been the lead trial attorney on more than 100 cases that have gone to judgment. A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Clements founded the firm of Frilot, L.L.C., with George A. Frilot III in 1995.

A self-proclaimed competitive person by nature, Clements is a sports lover who went from playing them in high school and college to representing the Sugar Bowl as an officer through the five formative years that led to the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, and the Sugar Bowl’s prominence as one of only four BCS bowls. His leadership in the Sugar Bowl also included serving as president in 2000, the year of its first BCS National Championship, as chairman of the executive committee, and on the organization’s board for 10 years.  

With such an extensive and wide array of cases to pull from, Clements says many could qualify to be among his toughest; however, a few in particular stand out. Among them is a case in which he represented a company against a battery manufacturer for misappropriating trade secrets and engaging in unfair trade practices. After a 24thJudicial District Court judge dismissed the case, Clements won on appeal, resulting in a $30 million verdict for his client.

Another of his toughest cases involves two names that are very familiar to New Orleanians, Mossy Motors and the Sewerage and Water Board. In this case, Clements represented Mossy Motors, for which he filed a suit in Civil District Court for business interruption and physical destruction of property due to construction involving deep-well dewatering during the expansion of Drainage Pumping Station No. 1.

“The appointment of an ad hoc judge enabled the matter to proceed to trial against three defendants within two years of filing,” says Clements. “A six-week jury trial proceeded against two private defendants, with a bench trial against the S&WB.  The ad hoc judge did not have his own courtroom, so the lawyers had to move to a new courtroom every few days, file materials and all. Much of the evidence was presented electronically, which was ‘cutting edge’ at the time.” 

In the end, the jury awarded substantial damages against the private defendants, and the judge awarded a separate judgment for the full amount against the S&WB.  Defendants appealed twice in the Louisiana Supreme Court. Both times Mossy prevailed.