NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Speaking at a Feb. 25 status conference for the multidistrict litigation surrounding the BP oil spill, plaintiffs attorneys sought to reassure states and municipalities of their sovereignty when it comes to filing claims.
Plaintiffs attorney Jim Roy said that the proposed master complaint for government entities is "completely voluntary."
Alabama attorney general Luther Strange, who was appointed as liaison counsel for government entities, also said that the master complaint was optional, and is just a way for governments to join the BP MDL through a short-form joinder.
Several states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, as well as municipalities such as Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, expressed concern over U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's recent ruling approving the government master complaint.
On Feb. 18, the Plaquemines Parish government stated that it did "not choose to participate in any mass joinder action or potential class action that is sought to be created by the PSC's Master Complaint."
New Orleans attorney Henry King, hired to represent Plaquemines, said his client was concerned about being entered into a class action without prior consent.
Barbier and Strange repeated that the short-form joinder was purely voluntary and was put in place in order to avoid duplicating discovery and litigation tracks.
After clarification from the court, the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney and Sheriff's office announced they would be using the form.