The attorneys for the shrimpers, commercial fisherman and others impacted by the BP oil spill have submitted their pleadings to fight the motion by BP to move all cases to its USA headquarters’ location – Houston, Tx.
The plaintiffs are arguing to have the cases tried in New Orleans, La. and to have Judge Shira Scheindlin from the Southern District of New York preside.
Why Eastern District of Louisiana?
A large number of related cases have been filed there and the Panel has previously
A plethora of pertinent witnesses are located in Louisiana, including claimants and potential claimants, key eyewitnesses to the incident and investigators, including representatives of Mineral Management Services and the Coast Guard.
In addition, the sunken wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon rig still lies in waters just off the coast of Louisiana, and once
salvaged, will most likely be analyzed in Louisiana for the causes of the incident.
The joint MMS-Coast Guard investigation is being conducted in New Orleans, in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Documentation from that critical investigation will be produced in Louisiana.
Thus, Louisiana is closer to the epicenter of this disaster than Texas, Florida or the other Gulf States, and it is the geographical focal point.
New Orleans, where the Eastern District of Louisiana sits, is also host to the Louis Armstrong International Airport, a major travel hub, with non-stop flights to many major cities around the country.
Why Judge Shira Scheindlin?
Judge Scheindlin is well recognized and highly regarded for her management of complex cases, including multidistrict litigations.
She renders decisions on motions promptly, ensuring that the litigation does not languish.
From the inception of new litigation, Judge Scheindlin issues case management orders that keep the parties on tight, but realistic, time frames for a timely resolution of the case.
She makes herself readily accessible to litigants when issues or problems arise, including a willingness to engage in telephone conferences for speedy resolution of discovery and substantive disputes so that the litigation is not delayed
Judge Scheindlin not only has MDL experience, but she has MDL experience with one of the principle defendants in these cases – British Petroleum (“BP”). Since 2003, Judge Scheindlin has presided over MDL 1358, an MDL that at one time had over 200 cases brought against the oil industry for contaminating the nation’s public drinking water supply with a gasoline additive called methyl tertiary butyl ether. In this MDL,there are over 50 defendants, including the largest oil companies operating in the United States such as BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Citgo, Sunoco, Conoco Philips, Marathon and others.
Due in large measure to Judge Scheindlin’s management of the MDL, nearly every case filed in the MDL has settled.
For the cases that did not initially settle and were initially filed in a district within the Second Circuit, and thus a case over which she could preside at trial, Judge Scheindlin provided trial dates and conducted a trial that took approximately three months to try for the one case that remained within the Second Circuit.
In MDL 1358 alone, Judge Scheindlin decided dozens and dozens of complex motions, producing decisions in the MDL to date totaling over 1,500 pages of jurisprudence.
As might very likely be the case in these cases, there were many issues of first impression in MDL 1358, and Judge Scheindlin was not hesitant to develop new law when necessary to resolve a legal issue in one of the focus cases.
Judge Scheindlin has extensive hands-on experience with intricate discovery issues and is one of the nation’s leading experts on electronic discovery. Those issues permeate large scale litigation such as this, especially in the early days of the litigation regarding issues of document retention and preservation, covered persons and initial disclosures.
Plaintiffs recommend Judge Scheindlin, rather than one of the Judges in the Eastern District of Louisiana, because plaintiffs have been informed that most or all of the judges in the district have a conflict and cannot preside over the MDL.
Yet, because of the gravity of this situation and its impact on the Louisiana community, it is fair and appropriate to conduct the proceedings in Louisiana. Therefore, it is plaintiffs’ recommendation that Judge Scheindlin be designated the MDL judge over this and other similar cases, and that she hold hearings in the Eastern District of Louisiana.