U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected pleas from the federal government and 15 states to separate their suits over the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill from private civil suits.
On Jan. 27, he denied motions from the U.S. Department of Justice and Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to run multi district litigation on one track for private lawyers and one for government.
He appointed Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange as coordinating counsel for state interests.
He appointed Department of Justice lawyer Michael Underhill of San Francisco as coordinating counsel for federal interests.
His decision leaves control of litigation in the hands of a plaintiff steering committee he appointed last year.
Attorneys general in 14 states had joined Caldwell in endorsing a government track, warning that the steering committee would put its interests above the public interest.
Caldwell responded In a press release, Caldwell wrote, "This latest order is a direct denial and abridgment of the constitutional rights of the citizens of the state of Louisiana including the constitutional right to their own counsel."