Feinberg: MDL judge free to accept AG Hood's lawsuit

John O'Brien Nov. 9, 2011, 10:31am


JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Gulf Coasts Claim Facility administrator Ken Feinberg has modified his argument as to why the lawsuit filed against him by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood belongs in federal court.

Attorneys for Feinberg and the GCCF wrote last week that he no longer wishes to argue that the case was removable pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, of New Orleans, will now be free to make a decision, the notice says.

"Defendants have taken this action to moot Plaintiff's contention, set forth in a motion to stay filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Oct. 21, that the existence of the alternative, CAFA-based argument in support of this court's jurisdiction precluded the JPML from transferring this case to the ongoing Deepwater Horizon MDL proceeding in the Eastern District of Louisiana until the court has ruled on Plaintiff's remand motion," the notice says.

"Specifically, Plaintiff cited in its motion to stay JPML precedent for the contention that, where one of the grounds argued by a defendant in support of removal is CAFA's mass action provision, the JPML will not transfer the case until the remand motion has been decided."

Hood's lawsuit seeks to enforce a subpoena against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, seeking information related to the payout of claims to victims of the Gulf oil spill that occurred in April 2010.

Hood seeks to remand the case, originally filed in Hinds County Chancery Court. Feinberg says the issue raises federal issues of law, not state, and removed the case to the federal court in Jackson.

After dropping the CAFA argument, Feinberg is still insistent that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the case to be heard in federal court. Without the CAFA argument, it should be transferred to the New Orleans MDL, Feinberg says.

"(I)t would be a needless waste of the court's time and resources to require this court to adjudicate Plaintiff's remand motion since it turns on issues concerning the scope of OCSLA jurisdiction that are already pending before Judge Barbier in MDL 2179," the notice says.

"Accordingly, to avoid that burden and waste of resources, Defendants are withdrawing their argument in support of removal based on CAFA... Accordingly, the JPML will be free to transfer this case to the MDL proceeding before Judge Barbier without regard to the CAFA mass action issue."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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