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In re Oil Spill by Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 26, 2018

IN RE OIL SPILL by the OIL RIG “DEEPWATER HORIZON” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 Applies to: No. 12-CV-968: BELO

          JUDGE BARBIER

          BELO CASES INITIAL PROCEEDINGS CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER

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

         The court has conferred with liaison counsel for both sides concerning initial proceedings in these cases, which are governed by the Back End Litigation Option (“BELO”) provisions of the Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement Agreement (“the Settlement Agreement”) entered by the parties and approved by the court. Record Doc. No. 6427-1 at pp. 60-73 (settlement agreement); Record Doc. No. 8218 (approval order).

         Having considered the competing case management order proposals (“Proposed CMO”) submitted by counsel, together with their recently submitted memoranda, which I have ordered separately filed in the record, the oral representations of counsel during the status conferences, the record and the applicable law, the court finds that the parties through their Settlement Agreement have resolved the principal common issues that were the basis for including these claims in MDL No. 2179. The court further finds that the issues reserved for further litigation in the BELO provisions of the Settlement Agreement are so highly particularized as to individual plaintiffs that they substantially predominate over any common issues that might merit extensive consolidated discovery procedures of the type proposed by counsel, as evidenced by the prohibition in the Settlement Agreement against class action allegations in all BELO cases. The court also finds that the parties' proposals to incorporate by reference their class action pleadings in C.A. No. 12-968 and make them applicable to individual BELO cases, Proposed CMO at ¶'s A(2) and (11), would unnecessarily confuse, convolute and complicate subsequently filed BELO cases. In light of the parties' inability to agree upon a form of short standardized complaint and the anticipated highly individualized nature of BELO lawsuits, the court rejects the parties' suggestion that form pleadings and their largely inapplicable previously filed class action complaint and answer be employed. In addition, the interests of the parties, the public and the court in judicial economy and efficiency and in avoiding undue delay in the resolution of these claims if the lengthy consolidated discovery procedures proposed by the parties are adopted far outweigh any minimal efficiencies the proposed procedures might achieve. The settlement agreement is clear that litigation of these claims in the most appropriate venue was a principal intention of the BELO provisions. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the following case management order, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 16, is hereby entered:

         I. PLEADINGS

         (1) All aspects of all BELO lawsuits, including but not limited to their pre-conditions, scope, nature, content, issues to be litigated, relief to be sought and parties involved, are limited to what is provided in the Settlement Agreement.

         (2) Except for BELO lawsuits already filed before entry of this order, all individual BELO complaints must be titled “BELO Complaint, ” and the caption of the complaint must be in the form attached to this order as Exhibit “A.”

         (3) At a minimum, a BELO complaint filed after entry of this case management order must allege: (A) the particular United States District Court in which plaintiff contends venue is most appropriate, including (i) plaintiff's current judicial district of residence and (ii) plaintiff's judicial district of residence at the time of the alleged exposure; (B) identification of plaintiff's physical/medical condition allegedly caused by the exposure; (C) the date of first diagnosis of that condition; (D) the general circumstances of plaintiff's exposure, including (i) identification of the agent to which plaintiff was exposed (e.g., oil, chemical dispersant, etc.); (ii) location[s] of where the alleged exposure or other injuries occurred; (iii) level and duration of exposure, if known; and (iv) whether plaintiff's exposure occurred while he was an oil spill cleanup worker and, if so, the name and address of his oil spill cleanup direct employer.

         (4) BP Exploration & Production, Inc. and BP America Production Company (hereinafter collectively “BP”) are the only two defendants who may permissibly be named as defendants in any BELO complaint. BP has agreed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d) to waive, and the court hereby orders that they have waived, formal service of summons and complaint. Except for previously filed BELO cases, immediately upon docketing of any BELO complaint, the Clerk of Court must provide electronic notice of the filing and a copy of the BELO complaint, through and in accordance with the court's electronic case management filing procedures and system, to BP at the designated email address BP has provided to me, which I have provided to the Clerk. Within 24 hours of its receipt of the Clerk's electronic notice and complaint copy, BP must confirm its receipt by email response to the Clerk at the email address that I have directed the Clerk to provide to BP. No other filings, documents or communications of any kind will be sent to this designated BP email address by the court. All claimants, plaintiffs and/or their counsel are hereby prohibited from sending filings or communications of any kind to this BP email address. If BP receives any communications sent to this email address, other than the Clerk's initial notice and complaint copy, it must notify the Clerk by email sent to the same Clerk's email address used to confirm receipt of each BELO filing within 24 hours of receipt, and the Clerk will notify me so that I may take action, if appropriate.

         (5) No later than thirty (30) days after the date of filing of a BELO complaint, BP must file an answer to that complaint. As to venue, if the answer denies plaintiffs' allegation of the particular United States District Court in which plaintiff contends venue is most appropriate, the answer must specify the particular United States District Court in which BP contends venue is most appropriate. BP's BELO case answers will not be deemed to have waived any defenses under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12.

         II. DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

         No later than ninety (90) days after the date of filing of an individual BELO complaint, all parties in that action must, without awaiting a discovery request, provide the other parties with the information and/or materials required in Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A), together with the following:

         (1) By plaintiffs to defendants:

         (A) the completed Plaintiff Profile Form attached to this case management order as Exhibit “B, ” signed by plaintiff under penalty of perjury, together with production of all medical records and other ...


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