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Cumberland Law School Presentation - The Deepwater Horizon Oil


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               Rhon E. Jones
           Environmental Section Head
Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.
   Since April 2010, over 3oo lawsuits have been filed
    against BP and other operators, contractors and owners
    regarding the Deepwater Horizon platform and Macondo
   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
               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

     “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.
                  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
                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.
               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
            An Overview of the Court
         The Eastern District of Louisiana
   Located in New Orleans, Louisiana.
   The Court, has extensive experience in litigating MDL
     Vioxx  Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liaiblity
     Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation

     FEMA Trailor Formaldehyde Products Liability Litigation.

     Apple Iphone 3G and 3GS “MMS” Marketing and Sales
      Practices Litigation.
             An Overview of the Court
                The Presiding Judge
                             Carl J. Barbier
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, 1998.
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, 1971-1998
              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.
             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

   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.
                 Recent Developments
   Oil Pollution Act strict liability test trials to begin in the Spring
    of 2011.

   Limitation of Liability trial to commence in February 2012.

   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”

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