Litigation

Amended Florida Class Action Complaint Filed In BP Oil Spill Disaster

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A team of nationally known attorneys led by Tallahassee lawyer and Northeastern University Professor P. Tim Howard on May 6 filed an amended complaint in one of the first Florida class action lawsuits over the sinking of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

First filed in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee on April 30, the amended complaint in Ward, et al. v. BP, et al. (No. 4:10-cv-00157-SPM-WCS, N.D. Fla.), alleges gross negligence, willful misconduct and other claims in the design, construction and operation of the rig, as well as in the response to the disaster. The case has been assigned to Chief Judge Stephan P. Mickle.

Among the plaintiffs are George Weems Ward, who lives in East Point, Fla., on Apalachicola Bay near Panama City. Ward earns his living as a guide fisherman, shrimper and oysterman. He is joined by plaintiff Jeff Galloway, who lives on nearby St. George Island, where he works as a real estate broker. A third lead plaintiff in the class action is Constance Ward (no relation to Mr. Ward), who owns property in Cape San Blas, Fla., also just south of Panama City.

Panama City and its beaches are among those expected to be directly impacted by the oil slick as it moves onshore. Panama City Beach is routinely named one of the world's most beautiful beaches by sources such as CNN, Money Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler.

The defendants include various divisions of oil giant BP (formerly British Petroleum), Transocean Ltd. (the owners/operators of the Deepwater Horizon), Halliburton Energy (which was involved in "cementing" operations to cap the oil rig when the explosion occurred) and Cameron International Corp. (manufacturers of the rig's blow-out-preventers, which failed to operate properly and prevent the oil spill).

Similar lawsuits are planned for Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, as the devastation from the oil rig disaster continues to grow, Howard said.

Members of Howard’s team are Douglas Lyons of Lyons & Farrar of Tallahassee, Stephen A. Sheller of Sheller P.C. in Philadelphia, James F. Haggerty of The Law Offices of James F. Haggerty in New York, Robert Hilliard of Hilliard, Munoz, Guerra L.L.P. in Corpus Christi, Texas, Fletch Trammell of Bailey Perrin Bailey in Houston, Don Barrett of The Barrett Law Office in Lexington, Miss.,  Joe R. Whatley Jr. of Whatley Drake & Kallas in Birmingham, Ala., Dr. Richard Daynard, law professor at Northeastern University,  Katie Griffin, a Texas attorney with the Oklahoma City-based Sill & Medley, John B. White Jr. of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins of Spartanburg, S.C., and J. Mark Moss of Spiro Moss in Los Angeles.

Download the amended complaint.