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Judge Appoints BP Oil Plaintiffs' Steering, Executive Committees

MIAMI - U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana on Oct. 8 issued a pretrial order appointing 15 lawyers to the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC) of the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation.

More than 100 trial attorneys from across the United States applied for the appointment to serve on the committee.

"The Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill is the largest manmade disaster in recent history and the litigation that will arise from it will be enormous," said Ervin A. Gonzalez of Colson Hicks Eidson, who is one of the 15 attorneys selected to serve on the PSC. "The purpose of service on the PSC is to help the victims of this tragic disaster and ensure the protection of the environment and our community. PSC members work together with all counsel that have cases to efficiently and effectively manage discovery and pretrial matters in the litigation process."

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 platform workers and injuring 17 others. The oil spill flowed for months in 2010, spewing million gallons of oil per day from the ocean floor before it was capped off. On Sept. 19, the relief well process was successfully completed and the federal government declared the well "effectively dead."

Hundreds of cases have already been filed in numerous affected states. On Aug. 10, 2010, The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to consolidate hundreds of personal injury and economic damages claims related to the BP PLC Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and assigned Judge Barbier to oversee the litigation.

The 15 lawyers selected by Judge Barbier to serve on the PSC are Brian H. Barr of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Eschner in Pensacola, Fla.; Jeffrey A. Breit of Breit, Drescher, Imprevento & Walker  in Norfolk, Va.; Elizabeth J. Cabraser of Lieff, Cabraser, Hermann & Bernstein in San Francisco; Philip F. Cossich Jr. of Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor in Belle Chasse, La.; Robert T. Cunningham of Cunningham Bounds LLC in Mobile, Ala.; Alphonso Michael Espy of Jackson, Miss.; Calvin C. Fayard Jr. of Fayard & Honeycutt in Denham Springs, La.; Ervin A. Gonzalez of Colson, Hicks, Eidson in Coral Gables, Fla.; Robin L. Greenwald of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York; Rhon E. Jones of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Ala.; Matthew E. Lundy of Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South in Lake Charles, La.; Michael C. Palmintier of deGravelles, Palmintier, Holhaus & Fruge in Baton Rouge, La.; Paul M. Sterbcow of Lewis, Killman, Sterbcow & Abramson  in New Orleans; Scott Summy of Baron & Budd in Dallas; and Mikal C. Watts of Watts, Guerra, Craft in Houston.

In addition, four lawyers were appointed to the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee:  James Parkerson Roy of Domengeaux Wright Roy & Edwards in Lafayette, La., Stephen J. Herman of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar in New Orleans, Brian Barr of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Eschner in Pensacola, Fla., and Scott Summy of Baron & Budd in Houston.

On Oct. 7, Judge Barbier appointed Duke University School of Law Professor Francis E. McGovern as special master in the litigation.