Judge Barbier Allows Some Plaintiffs to Collect Punitive Damages in BP Gulf Oil Spill Lawsuits

NEW ORLEANS, La. – U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier in a major 39-page ruling dismissed all state law claims, but instead adopted an expansive view of economic damage that could result from the oil spill and said that some plaintiffs may be able to collect punitive damages from the companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. BP had sought to dismiss many of the economic damage claims brought on due to the Deepwater Horizon explosion that occurred on April 2010 that caused an 86-day continuous oil spill that devastaed the Gulf coast. NOLA.com reports: Barbier had to weigh in on the confusing topic of which laws apply to the situation. The case properly falls into maritime law and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, both federal laws. Since state law is preempted by maritime law, all claims brought under state law are dismissed. Maritime law allows claims for negligence, gross negligence and strict liability for manufacturing or design defects. Steve Herman, co-lead plaintiffs attorney in the case, said Louisianans will see no ill-effects from state law claims getting knocked out, because maritime law and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, another federal law, are more favorable to people's grievances. Both laws will be used by the court to weigh claims. The OPA was enacted after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and greatly expands the universe of people who are eligible to claim damage from an oil spill. Before OPA, only commercial fishers and people who had oil land on their property could claim damages; OPA opened the possibility of indirect economic losses, such as hotels, restaurants or fish processing plants claiming damages. But maritime law allows for the possibility of punitive damages, while OPA is silent on punitive damages. The court considered whether OPA knocked out claims that previously might have existed under general maritime law, such as punitive damages, and determined it did not. Therefore, commercial fishers and people with direct physical damage on their property from the oil spill can pursue punitive damage claims against BP, the majority owner of the well, and other corporate defendants in the case. Maritime attorneys, Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P. work with Jones Act clients all along the Gulf Coast and throughout the nation. From Lake Charles to Lake Pontchartrain, our lawyers put decades of combined legal experience and extensive resources to work for clients who pursue compensation for their injuries under the Jones Act. We are the leading offshore injury law firm representing victims of the BP, Transocean Deepwater Horizon disaster, along with assisting businesses that were damaged by the impact of the Gulf oil spill. For a free consultation, call an expert maritime lawyer 24/7 at 800.773.6770. Related Searches: Louisiana maritime lawyer Houston maritime lawyer

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