BP wants all the cases moved to Houston, Tex. Its attorneys are arguing that BP Exploration and Production, Inc. and the other defendants maintain their principal places of business and their key documents and witnesses within the Houston area, according to court documents.
From the BP motion: “Transfer and consolidation of this litigation in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, would greatly promote the just and expeditious resolution of these actions.”
BP also wants a particular judge: Judge Lynn N. Hughes.
I interviewed Jeffery Luthi, the Clerk of the Panel of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML)—the panel that makes the final decision about where cases will be tried and who will try them.
Luthi said that the original motion filed by BP had deficiencies and that the case (Docket #2179) wasn’t actually placed online until yesterday. The judges panel will not review it until its regularly scheduled July session that is in Boise, Idaho.
The clerk said that the plaintiffs’ attorneys had tried to expedite the process and get the case on next week’s agenda (The session is in Chicago), but he had denied the motion because there wasn’t enough time for all parties to prepare.
The JPML meets every other month, which explains why the soonest the motions can be heard is July 29.
Consolidating cases is not unusual, according to Luthi. It is how the Toyota safety cases are being handled.
Here is the JPML website.