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Attorneys Meet in New Orleans to Discuss Oil Spill Lawsuit Strategy Against BP

Posted on 06 May 2010

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Attorney Daniel Becnel said that about 200 attorneys suing BP Plc over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill met in a New Orleans hotel to devise a strategy for resolving virtually all spill litigation within three months.

The attorneys have asked a federal judicial panel in Washington to combine thousands of claims by commercial fishermen, shrimpers, property owners, seafood processors and tourism-related businesses into a single multi-district case before one judge in New Orleans. "That could keep the lawsuits from dragging on for years and would get badly needed cash into victims' hands," Becnel said.

“We’re not going to have a long march to trial,” Becnel said yesterday in an interview before the meeting. “This could all be over in 90 days.”

Becnel represents hundreds of individuals and businesses claiming damages from the oil slick created by the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which burned and sank about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.

More than 70 lawsuits, almost all class actions potentially involving thousands of claims, have been filed against BP, which owned the offshore lease where the damaged well is now gushing at least 5,000 barrels of oil a day.

Also named as defendants in most of the suits are: Transocean Ltd., which owned the rig; Cameron International Corp., which supplied the blowout prevention equipment on the well; and Halliburton Energy Services Inc., which was providing cementing services to the well. None of the companies has accepted liability for the accident. BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward has said the company will clean up the oil and pay “all legitimate claims.”