Gulf spill case heads for February trial

Nov. 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Seventy lawyers in New Orleans are preparing for a February court date in a lawsuit against BP and other companies over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

The attorneys represent more than 120,000 claimants, including condominium owners, oyster fishermen, hotel owners, beach communities and others who claim injury from the BP oil spill in the gulf, USA Today reported Monday.

The spill began with an explosion April 20, 2010, that killed 11 workers. More than 155 million gallons of oil spewed into the gulf before an undersea well was sealed.

"There hasn't been a case quite as immediately large and as complex with so many moving parts," said James Roy, a Lafayette, La., attorney and one of the lead plaintiff attorneys.

The case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, set a date of Feb. 27 for determining responsibility for the rig explosion -- BP, lessee of the rig; Transocean, owner of the rig; Halliburton, responsible for casing cement; or someone else.

Subsequent trials will deal with determining the spill's environmental impact and how much companies should pay in damages, Roy said.

While bearing most of the blame, BP officials repeatedly noted others' involvement in the disaster.

"We are preparing to try the case scheduled to begin in February, where we will present evidence, consistent with all official investigations, that the Deepwater Horizon accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties," a BP statement said.

The case is so massive and includes so many parties that Barbier named an executive committee and a steering committee to coordinate the plaintiffs' efforts, USA Today reported. The more than 400 cases have been merged into one master lawsuit.

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