The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would repeal the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851, making it easier for families of those killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion through wrongful death lawsuits or personal injury lawsuits to sue for punitive damages. The Committee rejected an amendment that stipulated that the bill would not apply retroactively.
Several other interesting news arose last week regarding the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For example, the New York Comptroller has hired attorneys in his effort to become the lead plaintiff in a federal class-action lawsuit by investors against BP over the Gulf spill. “The Energy Source” blog at Forbes took a stab at guesstimating BP’s total liability for the oil spill and estimated a total of $60.9 billion by breaking up the costs into three buckets – the $20 billion escrow fund, clean up and compensation, and fines and penalties.
The 150-plus personal injury lawsuits and other legal challenges face significant complications in the Gulf Area due to recusals and judges’ financial interests. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that federal judges in Gulf states have been extensively invested in the oil and gas industries for decade and those interests threaten to create a logjam for these Gulf spill personal injury lawsuits. Seven of the twelve federal judges of the Eastern District of Louisiana have already cited potential conflicts of interest in bowing out of cases bought by fisherman, charter operators, tourist services, and those wrongful death lawsuits brought by those killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
You can read more about the Gulf Coast oil spill updates on the American Association for Justice website.