JPMDL Hearing Set For Arguments On Where To Send Oil Spill Cases

ATLANTA - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) will hold a hearing July 28 in Boise, Idaho, to hear arguments on where to transfer the more than 140 cases related to the BP Gulf oil spill that have been filed in federal and state courts, a plaintiff attorney said Thursday at HB Litigation Conferences' Oil in the Gulf: Litigation & Insurance Coverage Conference here.

Scott Summy of Baron & Budd in Dallas said these cases require a judge, or panel of judges, with significant experience to wade through the claims, which include environmental, property damage (personal/environmental/product liability), real property(torts to land/public property), real property, marine, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, product liability, contracts, stockholders and racketeering.

"Trying to figure out where the panel will send the case is as hard as trying to figure out when the oil will stop," Summy said, adding that the JPMDL could assign cases to several judges in different jurisdictions based on the claims.

"This case calls for something out of the box," he added.  "Where this thing ends up is anybody's guess."

He said the JPMDL will consider such factors as the location of documents, witnesses, evidence and plaintiffs and how far people will have to travel.

"It seems like it should be somewhere on the [Gulf] Coast, but stranger things have happened," Summy said.

This is the breakdown of cases by state, according to Summy: Florida, 57 federal, two state; Alabama 34 federal; Texas, 20 federal, two state; Mississippi, 20 federal; South Carolina, three federal; Kentucky, two federal, Tennessee, two federal, California, one federal; Georgia, one federal.