Posted: Jul 3, 2010 3:54 PM by Chris Welty
Updated: Jul 3, 2010 3:55 PM
HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge in New Orleans is trying to
streamline the legal process for more than 30 lawsuits arising from
the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
An order filed this week from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier
temporarily consolidates the lawsuits for pretrial purposes.
The suits represent only a fraction of the more than 200
lawsuits filed in courts in Louisiana, Texas and elsewhere since
the rig BP was operating exploded on April 20 and sank.
Barbier said suits pending in his section will be
administratively consolidated pending a ruling by a multidistrict
panel on how to handle all of the suits filed nationally. That
panel meets July 29.
Barbier has appointed lawyers to act as interim liaisons between
the parties and the court on behalf of all the plaintiffs and
defendants in cases in his section.
Some attorneys want Barbier to oversee all cases filed
nationally. BP wants U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston to
hear all the cases.
BP has taken the brunt of criticism about the oil spill because
it was leasing and operating the Deepwater Horizon. It also is a
majority owner of the undersea well that is spewing oil into the
Swiss-based Transocean Ltd. owned a majority interest in the
rig. Anadarko Petroleum, based in The Woodlands, Texas, has a 25
percent non-operating interest in the well.
Suits filed in various states have been brought by, among
others, fishermen who have lost their livelihoods, investors who
are seeing their nest eggs decimated by the plunge in BP's stock
price, and underwriters of insurance policies who are trying to
block BP from collecting.