BP Wants All Gulf Oil-Spill Lawsuits Combined in Federal Court in Houston
BP Plc asked a panel of judges to combine all lawsuits over economic and environmental damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in a federal court in Houston.
BP called the court the appropriate forum for the cases, Jeffrey Luthi, a spokesman for the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, said today. The panel hasn’t posted BP’s request on the court’s docket, he said. The company’s Gulf of Mexico drilling operations are based at BP Products North America’s headquarters in Houston.
Almost 100 lawsuits have been filed against London-based BP and other companies involved in the April spill. Most are proposed class actions representing potentially thousands of commercial fishermen, shrimpers, seafood processors, property owners and tourism-related businesses harmed by the spill.
A lawyer representing several hundred of these businesses and individuals asked for the oil-spill litigation to be consolidated before one of three federal judges in Louisiana. If combined in a multidistrict litigation, or MDL, the suits would be overseen by one judge who would decide evidence-gathering issues and allowable legal arguments.
The multidistrict-litigation panel has agreed to hear arguments on the matter at its July session in Boise, Idaho.
A BP spokesman, Daren Beaudo, said it is the company’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Leak From Well
More than 5,000 barrels of oil a day have been leaking from a damaged subsea well 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, following last month’s explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, which was under hire to BP.
The rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. and used blowout- prevention equipment and drilling services provided by Cameron International Corp. and Halliburton Energy Services Inc., respectively. These companies, and to a lesser extent their insurers, are named in the majority of the lawsuits.
The multidistrict case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, MDL-2179, Washington.
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