Mark E. Best

Mark Best

Mark is Partner with Kuchler Polk Weiner, LLC. Mark graduated cum laude from Millsaps College in 2000, receiving a B.A. in Economics. He went on to receive both a Juris Doctor and Certificate in Admiralty and Maritime Law from Tulane University in 2004. Following graduation, Mark served as law clerk to Judge Robert Chaisson of the 29th Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Charles, Louisiana.

Mark has twelve years of experience in the field of maritime contractual indemnity disputes and has routinely obtained contractual defense and indemnity for oilfield clients under both General Maritime Law and state law. He also has experience in the areas of premise liability, product liability, toxic torts, insurance defense and general civil litigation. He is a member of the Louisiana State and Federal Bar Associations and is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana, all Louisiana State Courts, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Mark has received the highest rating available, AV Preeminent, from Martindale-Hubbell.

Mark resides in Metairie with his wife, Katheryn, and his children, Livy and Quinn.


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LITIGATION-RELATED AWARDS AND VICTORIES
LITIGATION–RELATED AWARDS AND VICTORIES
  • In 2017-2018, Mark was appointed liaison counsel for oil company defendants by Ad Hoc Judge Brady M. Fitzsimmons in multiple mass-joinder toxic exposure cases in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Jefferson Parish, State of Louisiana.  The cases involved the claims of approximately 10,000 individual plaintiffs who alleged exposure to naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORM) emanating from certain pipe yard facilities in Harvey, Louisiana.  Thousands of claims were dismissed via motion practice, and no damage awards have been entered against our clients.
  • In 2016, Mark served as second-chair trial counsel in a  prescription (akin to statute of limitations) trial in Louisiana state court involving claims of exposure to Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials. The plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed with prejudice by the Court at the close of the trial.
  • In 2015, Monique Weiner and Mark Best obtained multiple summary judgments in federal court in favor of a natural gas pipeline company which was alleged to have exposed nearly 200 individual plaintiffs to petroleum products after an emergency shutdown and release occurred at a gas compression station.  Mark obtained the deposition testimony necessary to defeat multiple claims and crafted the briefs which resulted in dismissals with prejudice.
  • In 2013, Mark obtained summary dismissal of all causes of action asserted by a plaintiff against an offshore oil platform operator. In this federal court action, plaintiff sustained severe injuries to his back when he lifted a heavy “tree cap” off of a wellhead. He claimed that the operator was negligent in using an incorrect Job Safety Analysis sheet and that the extraordinary size of the tree cap constituted an unreasonable hazard. All claims against the client were dismissed on summary judgment after depositions of several eyewitnesses established that plaintiff could not meet his burden of proof.
  • In 2012, Deb Kuchler and Mark Best successfully avoided expensive litigation and trial through informal pre-suit discovery, including informal expert discovery, and mediation for a large E&P company client whose “company man” was killed when an overhead load was dropped on him. The drilling vessel at issue was located off the coast of Africa at the time of the incident, which implicated potentially complex issues of forum and applicable law. Our client was contractually obligated to defend and indemnify several parties, but we were nevertheless able to negotiate a settlement which was 20% lower than available settlement authority and projected case value.
  • While working with his former firm in a multi-million dollar offshore product liability case, Mark’s post-trial motion practice resulted in a judgment of over $2 million in indemnity, attorneys’ fees, and defense costs from a co-defendant. Judge Carl J. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana agreed complete indemnity was owed due to the interplay of two complex contracts: (1) a Master Service Agreement between a major oil company and its offshore diving and construction contractor (the indemnitor); and (2) the oil company’s separate contract for engineering services with the indemnitee.
  • Also while working with his former firm in a 905(b) benzene exposure death case, Mark obtained dismissal on summary judgment from District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Judge Lemmon agreed that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence of specific medical causation relative to the allegation that the decedent’s acute myelogenous leukemia was caused by benzene exposure on the employer’s vessels.
RECENT PRESENTATIONS AND ACTIVITIES
RECENT PRESENTATIONS AND ACTIVITIES
  • In 2016, Mark participated in a Harvard Law School Executive Education Program on Negotiation.