The State of Alabama’s case against BP is moving at a very good pace. Depositions have now commenced in the state’s civil case against BP for damages associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Most of the witnesses being deposed in the case are Alabama employees and BP employees and contractors involved in the oil spill response. In total, we expect there to be over 40 depositions taken by the end of July 2015, when deposition discovery ends.
Once depositions conclude, the case will quickly shift into expert discovery, where Alabama’s expert reports will come due. Because this case centers on economic and property damages associated with the disaster, the expert phase will be critically important to the ultimate outcome. Expert depositions will begin in early October of this year and are slated to conclude in December. BP will assemble, and likely has already assembled, an army of experts dedicated to derailing Alabama’s case. Trial of this case will likely take place in the late Spring or early Summer of 2016.
This case will be one of the most important cases in Alabama’s history. Never before has the State experienced the economic wrath and anguish from a disaster as it did from BP’s oil spill and it continues to this day. The spill occurred at the worst possible time and at the worst possible place. Citizens endured, not only the economic devastation created by the spill, but BP’s constant advertising campaigns, accusations of fraud and delay tactics in paying claims. Visions of oil on Alabama’s white, sandy shorelines dismissed with the passage of time. But even today, one can walk the beaches of Alabama and find tar at a rate that they never could have found before the oil spill.
Predictably, BP moved to strike Alabama’s request for a jury trial last year, hoping to keep a jury from hearing and deciding its fate. Judge Carl Barbier correctly found that Alabama was entitled to a jury trial, but BP tried a second time to block the jury trial. Judge Barbier again denied its request. In short order, the parties will begin briefing whether Alabama’s case should come home for its citizens to decide the case’s outcome. We feel confident that the case will be sent back to Alabama for trial. It doesn’t take a lawyer experienced in this type of litigation to understand how significant such a determination would be.
In the wake of a disaster like this, Alabamians always respond and work hard to recover. Our state’s citizens who live along the coast are especially resilient. They have worked together and have done their best to get through this disaster. Fortunately, our firm was allowed to file Alabama’s lawsuit in 2011 and that was extremely important for our state. Since taking office, Attorney General Luther Strange made this case a top priority. He has shown tremendous leadership in pressing the case forward – leading the Court to designate him coordinating counsel for all States. Alabama was the only state to have a case filed which was very good for us. This case is also extremely important to Governor Robert Bentley, and the great working relationship between Governor Bentley and Attorney General Strange is a key reason why the State will have its case heard first.
Lawyers Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Jenna Day and Rick Stratton from our firm are working very closely with Attorney General Strange, Corey Maze and Win Sinclair of the Attorney General’s office on behalf of Alabama. Together, they have done an outstanding job getting this case in the position it’s in, considering that BP has thrown an enormous amount of legal resources and money into this case.
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