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THE DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL MULTI-DISTRICT LITIGATION UPDATE Rhon E. Jones Environmental Section Head Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles,

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Presentation on theme: "THE DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL MULTI-DISTRICT LITIGATION UPDATE Rhon E. Jones Environmental Section Head Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles,"— Presentation transcript:

1 THE DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL MULTI-DISTRICT LITIGATION UPDATE Rhon E. Jones Environmental Section Head Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.

2 Overview  Since April 2010, over 3oo lawsuits have been filed against BP and other operators, contractors and owners regarding the Deepwater Horizon platform and Macondo well.  Suits are focused in the following areas  Economic losses to businesses  Personal injury from exposure to oil and dispersants  Personal injury claims by workers aboard the DH.  RICO and conspiracy claims  Government loss of revenue claims  Loss of wage claims

3 The MDL Proceeding  The purpose of an MDL proceeding is to consolidate multiple, similar actions arising out of an occurrence in one location for manageability and consistency.  Under 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a), consolidation is proper when: “civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts,” those actions may be transferred to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.

4 The MDL Proceeding  Initially, the Judicial Panel of Multi-District Litigation meets and determines what cases will be transferred and the location they will be transferred to.  Once the MDL court is selected, that court:  Presides over all substantive proceedings  Cases are coordinated rather than consolidated;  The cases remain separate cases

5 The MDL Proceeding What Cases are Subject to Transfer?  The MDL considers 4 factors:  Common Questions of Fact: Interpreted broadly, not identically, or even common to all parties.  Convenience of Parties and Witnesses: As to all circumstances – not just to one party.  Promotion of Just and Efficient Conduct  Subsidiary Issues: Location of transferor districts; complexity of cases; possibility of conflicting rulings.  Either a party subject to transfer may initiate, or the MDL panel may initiate a transfer sua sponte.

6 What Has Happened  On July 29, the JPML met in Boise, Idaho to determine the appropriate judge and venue for the oil spill cases.  On August 10, the JPML ordered that the MDL location would be the Eastern District of Louisiana, and that Judge Carl Barbier would be the presiding judge.  Since that time, the JPML has ordered the transfer of over 150 cases to the E.D. La., with more to be transferred.

7 An Overview of the Court The Eastern District of Louisiana  Located in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Court, has extensive experience in litigating MDL actions.  Vioxx Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liaiblity Litigation.  Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation  FEMA Trailor Formaldehyde Products Liability Litigation.  Apple Iphone 3G and 3GS “MMS” Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation.

8 An Overview of the Court The Presiding Judge Carl J. Barbier Education: Southeastern Louisiana University, B.A., 1966 Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, J.D., 1970 Federal Judicial Service: Judge, U. S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana Nominated by William J. Clinton on May 19, 1998; Confirmed by the Senate on September 28, 1998, Commission on October 1, Professional Career: Law clerk, Hon. William Redman, Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, Law clerk, Hon. Fred Cassibry, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Private practice, New Orleans, Louisiana,

9 An Overview of the Court Supporting Cast  Judge Sally Shushan will serve as the magistrate judge for the oil spill litigation.  Francis McGovern: Serves as the special master. Mr. McGovern is a nationally acclaimed scholar, professor and special master in dispute resolution of mass actions.

10 Structure of Legal Team A chain of command must be structured to manage the enormous burden of fact gathering, discovery, testing and overall direction of such a massive case:  Lead Counsel: Louisiana attorneys Jim Roy and Steve Herman were selected as lead attorneys in the oil spill litigation.  Steering Committee: On October 9, 15 lawyers total were selected from all of the impacted states to collaboratively steer the litigation.  Workgroups: Formed to assist in the pleading, research, discovery, and environmental testing.

11 Recent Developments  Oil Pollution Act strict liability test trials to begin in the Spring of  Limitation of Liability trial to commence in February  The Court has entered an Order barring BP from raising the OPA damage cap as a defense.  The Plaintiffs have already served a host of discovery requests on the Defendants.  The Court: “It is never too early to talk about settlement”

12 QUESTIONS?


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