La. AG complies with discovery order in oil spill MDL

Alejandro de los Rios Nov. 10, 2011, 12:51pm


NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - The state of Louisiana has complied with a federal judge's order to turn over documents relating to the Gulf oil spill and will not face thousands of dollars in daily fines or dismissal of its claims.

Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan issued the order in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The New Orleans-based federal court is the sight of the massive multidistrict litigation surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The order came after Louisiana pushed back its discovery deadlines and still was unable to fully produce the required documents for BP.

At a motion hearing regarding BP's motion held Nov. 4, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell certified to the court that it had complied with Judge Shushan's order.

BP sought primary documents from various Louisiana state agencies that responded to or dealt with the oil spill and its aftermath. BP argued that the documents are necessary for the first phase of depositions taking place in November in preparation for the liability trial set to start in February.

Shushan ordered that Louisiana turn over documents relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and its immediate aftermath by Nov. 3 and documents relating to the sinking of the oil rig and subsequent oil spill and cleanup by Nov. 21.

Louisiana faced fines of up to $2,500 per day for each day of non-compliance past the deadlines, with the fines increasing to $5,000 per day after the first week of non-compliance, then increasing again to $10,000 after 14 days of non-compliance.

If Louisiana went more than 21 days without complying with Shushan's order, the state could have seen a dismissal of all its oil spill claims in the MDL "for failure to prosecute."

District Judge Carl Barbier is overseeing this MDL. Shushan is overseeing the discovery and depositions.

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