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Harriel v. BP Exploration & Production Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 6, 2017

KEVIN HARRIEL
v.
BP EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION INC.

         SECTION “J” (2)

          ORDER AND REASONS ON MOTIONS

          JOSEPH C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The BELO portion of the Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement Agreement in In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, Record Doc. No. 6427-1 at pp. 60-73, and this court's Case Management Orders (“CMO”), Record Doc. No. 14099 in MDL No. 2179 and Record Doc. No. 3 in the captioned case, provide for determination by this court, with the input of the parties, of the appropriate venue for discovery and dispositive proceedings. Plaintiff Kevin Harriel filed a Motion to Compel Disclosure, Record Doc. No. 9, and a Motion to Conduct Further Proceedings in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Record Doc. No. 14. Defendants filed a timely memorandum in opposition to plaintiff's motion to compel, Record Doc. No. 15, and filed a Motion to Transfer Venue to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Record Doc. No. 12.

         Having considered the record, the applicable law and the written submissions of counsel for the parties, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion to Compel Disclosure, Record Doc. No. 9, and Motion to Conduct Further Proceedings in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Record Doc. No. 14, are DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion to transfer venue, Record Doc. No. 12, is GRANTED and that the instant matter is TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Eastern Division, for the following reasons.

         I. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCLOSURE

         Harriel seeks to compel defendants to provide the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all employees or co-workers who worked with him while he was employed by Dynamic Environmental, Inc. as a cleanup worker at the “ERG BP Yard” in Morgan City, Louisiana, [1] and while he was employed by Wallace-Eutaw, LLC as a beach cleanup worker in Gulfport, Mississippi. This type of discovery is expressly prohibited by the CMO, which limits the information that the parties must exchange during the initial proceedings phase of this lawsuit to the following:

(A) all information, data and/or tangible materials, if any, about plaintiff in the BP medical encounters database and/or oil spill cleanup worker database;
(B) all non-privileged information, data and/or tangible materials concerning job duty, job assignment and/or time records, if any, in BP's possession, custody or control relating to plaintiff; and
(C) all contracts and/or agreements between BP and plaintiff's direct employer(s), if any, concerning oil spill response work, including but not limited to requirements, policies and procedures concerning health, safety and welfare of oil spill response workers.

         CMO, § II(2) (emphasis added).

         Harriel does not contend that defendants failed to comply with these disclosure obligations (and defendants assert that they did comply), but plaintiff seeks to compel defendants to produce additional information. However, the CMO provides that “[n]o discovery may be commenced and all discovery in all BELO lawsuits is STAYED at this time. Discovery is prohibited until after any BELO lawsuit is transferred to another court or reallotted within the Eastern District of Louisiana as provided [in the CMO].” Id. § V.

         Plaintiff may seek discovery of additional information pursuant to the appropriate Federal Rules of Civil Procedure after this case is transferred or reallotted. Id. Accordingly, his motion to compel disclosure of additional information is DENIED.

         II. THE VENUE MOTIONS

         Harriel's complaint alleges that he is a citizen of Mississippi and that, at all material times, he was a resident of Poplarville, Mississippi, which is located in Pearl River County in the Southern District of Mississippi, Southern Division. 28 U.S.C. § 104(b)(2). Defendants move to transfer this case to the Southern District of Mississippi, ...


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