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Plaquemines hopes to keep case against oil companies in Louisiana

A judge will not rule until after Sept. 12 in a case that is part of a larger series of 21 lawsuits against 18 oil companies in Louisiana. While the judge in the case typically rules from the bench after hearing arguments, he is only hearing three of the cases while the rest are being heard by other judges.

Therefore, his rulings could have an impact on how other judges rule in the other cases, and he wants to have his ruling in writing. Both sides were asked to submit a final brief in the case by Sept. 12. One of the key issues in the case being heard by the judge has to do with diversity, or whether plaintiffs or defendants are from more than one state.

This could be important as those who are bringing the lawsuit want them heard in state court while the energy companies want them heard in federal court. If the cases are heard in federal court, federal energy laws could be friendlier to the oil companies, and jurors could be picked from areas that are not as familiar with the damage that may have been done by the companies named in the suit. The attorney for the oil companies also argued to have the case removed to federal court due to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and other maritime law.

In a case such as this one, oil companies could be held liable for any business losses, the cost of medical treatment due to contaminated water and other costs related the damage that it may have caused. If the state prevails in its case against the oil companies, those who have been injured may then have a right to ask for financial compensation under a payment plan that will likely be determined by a court.

Source: Nola.com, "Plaquemines argues for state court jurisdiction of suit against oil companies", Mark Schleifstein, July 02, 2014

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