The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation has decided that more than 300 suits filed since the April 20th oil rig explosion will be heard in New Orleans. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier was selected by the panel to preside over the MDL. Lawsuits include personal injury claims that resulted from the deadly blast on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, damages to those who have experienced illness from contact with the oil dispersant, as well as loss of income and property value.
The U.S. government and most lawyers representing the spill victims wanted the cases consolidated in New Orleans, which is the largest city near the spill site. But BP sought to have the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation consolidate the cases in Houston, home to the oil giant’s U.S. headquarters. Other suggested consolidation sites included Miami, Mobile, and Gulfport. The MDL process is designed to streamline the exchange of evidence and avoid duplication. Once pretrial proceedings are completed, the individual cases are sent back for trial in the courts where they were first filed.
The selection of New Orleans and this judge represent a victory for the folks who have been damaged as a result of BP’s reckless disregard for safety and the tragic consequences of its actions. In my opinion, the MDL panel made a good decision. Louisiana was the logical choice because of its central location, the tremendous damage done there and the continued damage we expect to see for years to come along the Gulf Coast. Judge Barbier, a very good Judge, is more than capable of handling the complex nature of the litigation and the tremendous volume of cases that will go to his court. He will be fair to all parties to this litigation.
Our firm has filed a number of lawsuits in District Courts in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana to help protect businesses and individuals harmed by the oil spill. Within the next three to four weeks our lawyers will be filing a good number of additional cases. We currently represent over 1,000 individuals, businesses, and governmental entities. Our client base includes commercial fishermen, shrimpers, retail establishments, the restaurant industry, real estate management companies, property owners, persons suffering personal injuries and others. Our goal is to help bring BP and other entities responsible for the losses and damages to justice. I have never trusted BP to do the right thing by its victims. There is very little in BP’s past that gives me any real hope that the oil giant will treat spill victims fairly. That is why the MDL is so important for all victims.
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