The Jags just went out for the Mille Miglia
Houghtaling is a car enthusiast, philanthropist, and entrepreneur famous for partnering with Kevin Costner on the BP Spill cleanup
Houghtaling is the managing partner and majority owner of Gauthier, Murphy and Houghtaling, a law firm with a 44 year old legacy that paved the way to the $358 billion U.S. tobacco settlement in 1998, and won settlements and verdicts in an additional $4 billion. Houghtaling rose from the mail room where he was hired to move boxes at $8 an hour, to lead the powerhouse firm.
Houghtaling showed up the first day in a suit and tie and brought his laptop. A senior lawyer laughed, told him he looked “silly” and instructed him to come the next day dressed in jeans. But Houghtaling persisted with the suit, tie and laptop.
One day, Gauthier (senior partner) was looking for a lawyer to write a letter but no one was around to do it. Houghtaling offered his services. After he got hired on as an attorney, he worked nonstop to bring in clients with a focus on the firm’s specialty of class-action lawsuits. “I was here at 6 a.m. every morning and was the last to leave every night,” Houghtaling says. “I was passionate about what I was doing. Because the firm was well known, we only had to take causes we believed in.”
The firm and Houghtaling suffered a huge blow when Wendell Gauthier died of cancer in 2001. Over the next several years, four partners quibbled over leadership and control, and the practice began to stagnate. All the while, Houghtaling kept working and bringing in clients.
He tapped another talented young attorney, James Williams, and formed a partnership—a firm within a firm so to speak. Each time the parent organization had to let valuable personnel go, Houghtaling hired them on himself. In 2005, Houghtaling had the funding, the clients, the staff, and the blessing of the Gauthier family to buy the firm himself.
In 2005, Houghtaling served as special counsel to the Attorney General of Louisiana in the litigation of policyholder rights in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. His firm secured hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance funds to rebuild thousands of properties in several states.
Houghtaling collected hundreds of millions of dollars for hurricane victims in Katrina, Ike, Gustave and Sandy. In 2014, Houghtaling was appointed plaintiffs liaison counsel by the United States Federal Court for the Eastern District. He uncovered fraud within the FEMA Flood Insurance program. He represented over a thousand property owners in New York and New Jersey; the legal victories of his team led FEMA to admit that third parties committed fraud to underpay storm victims. FEMA then reopened the program for over 144,000 storm victims.