Crisis Response &
Incident Investigation

Archive for October, 2016

Mark Thibodeaux Quoted on Cybersecurity Risk, Liability Issues in Law360

Posted on: October 17th, 2016

Houston attorney Mark Thibodeaux, Deputy Practice Leader of the Cybersecurity and Privacy team for Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, was quoted by Law360 in an article exploring liability risks from cyberattacks on energy companies.

“The biggest security risk for the energy industry is these cyber-physical attacks, it’s not just data being stolen and moved around. The big liability risk is a power grid shutdown, or an overpressured pipeline, or a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that is attacked and causes a major oil spill,” Mr. Thibodeaux said in an article headlined “5 Ways Energy Cos. Can Limit Legal Fallout From Attacks” (subscription required).

The article notes that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are just two of the regulatory agencies putting pressure on oil and gas and power companies to make every effort to protect their increasingly automated layers of industrial controls. And while energy infrastructure companies are heavily insured, damages or losses from cyberattacks may be excluded, or greatly limited by insurance policies.

A Lloyd’s of London report estimated that a cyberattack that shuts down significant portions of the U.S. electric grid could have a $1 trillion impact on the U.S. economy, with insurers paying out more than $70 billion in claims.

“There’s not enough insurance in the world to cover a major event affecting a large portion of the grid,” Mr. Thibodeaux said.

He noted that energy companies also need to protect against contractors accidentally compromising their cybersecurity protections and should explore this question: “Does your contractor have deep enough pockets to protect you?”


Jack Massey Writes on Crisis Response in Texas Lawyer Newspaper

Posted on: October 10th, 2016

Houston commercial litigator Jack Massey, who is on the Sutherland Asbill & Brennan crisis response team, outlined what goes on behind the scenes of a major disaster in an article for Texas Lawyer newspaper.

Headlined “The Aftermath of Deepwater Horizon: Responding to a Catastrophe,” the article’s publication coincided with the recent release of the movie, “Deepwater Horizon.” As a member of the legal team in Houston that represented the drilling contractor in the real Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010, Mr. Massey wrote: “By my count, what happened on the rig was litigated at least five times,” counting the regulatory hearings, a presidential oil spill commission, the assessment of investigative reports, the BP employee prosecutions and finally the federal multidistrict litigation. In addition, there were the demands from the media, state governments, Congress, shareholders, employees and other regulators.

“Books could be written about the particulars of these actions, but they share one overarching characteristic: Each was greatly influenced by how the parties reacted in the days and months following the blowout. Practically speaking, the successes (and failures) of the parties’ crisis responses drew battle lines, framed issues, and materially affected liability,” Mr. Massey wrote.

He listed the major steps essential for dealing with such a crisis: coordination, control, mobilization of the best experts, and finally, playing the long game, which is aided by people who have been through big crises before.

His conclusion: “Dwight Eisenhower said that plans are nothing, but planning is everything. That’s the essence of crisis response — knowing the risks and opportunities so well that any exigency can be handled.”