MDL Court Rules on Availability of Punitive Damages in Gulf Oil Spill Litigation

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The MDL court overseeing the claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has ruled that plaintiffs can seek punitive damages against allegedly responsible parties in economic loss and property damage suits. In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, No. 2:10-md-02179 (E.D. La., 8/26/11).

Readers may recall that this MDL consists of hundreds of consolidated cases, with thousands of claimants, arising from the April 20, 2010 explosion, fire, and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit, which resulted in the release of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before it was finally capped approximately three months later. In order to efficiently manage this complex MDL, the court consolidated and organized the various types of claims (e.g., personal injury, environmental, property, and economic damages) into several “pleading bundles.” One such pleading bundle includes all claims for private or non-governmental economic loss and property damages. There are in excess of 100,000 individual claims encompassed within this bundle.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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