Louisiana Asks for New Judge for State’s BP Spill Claims

Louisiana asked an appeals court to re-assign the state’s BP Plc oil-spill claims for a separate trial by a judge other than the one overseeing thousands of claims consolidated in federal court in New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has refused for three years to set a timetable to try any of Louisiana’s claims, which exceed those of any other state affected by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, according to the state’s lawyers. Barbier recently let Alabama begin preliminary proceedings for a test trial of its economic-loss claims.

“The state cannot be unjustly shoved to the back of the line,” Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in Dec. 31 filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The court should transfer Louisiana’s claims to “another, less burdened judge” in the same judicial district, he said.

Barbier has made it clear he has “elected to defer Louisiana’s claims indefinitely,” Caldwell said

BP has used Barbier’s refusal to proceed with Louisiana’s claims as an excuse to “refuse to compensate the state for any of its losses” resulting from the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, according to the state.

The appeals court set a Jan. 10 deadline for responses.

The appellate case is In re: State of Louisiana, 13-31317, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans). The underlying case is In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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