Texas lawyer Watts represents 44,510 clients in BP litigation
NEW ORLEANS - Mikal Watts of Corpus Christi represents an astonishing total of 44,510 clients preparing for the first trial over the Deepwater Horizon explosion, according to a report U.S. District Judge Barbier received on July 6.
Watts and his firm, Watts Guerra, filed that many short joinder forms in national litigation before Barbier, according to the report.
All other lawyers together filed about 62,000 short forms, according to the report.
Short forms continue pouring into Barbier's court, in response to notice from rig owner Transocean that he plans to allocate fault at trial in February.
The trial will hinge on Transcoean's claim that a 160 year old law limits its liability to the value of the vessel, about $26 million.
Barbier posted a separate docket for short forms on the court website, but the sheer number of documents strains the capacity of a common computer.
In a random sample, a woman claims she listed a home for sale before the explosion and sold it later for less than she would have received if not for the explosion.
BP lawyer Don Haycraft of New Orleans brought Barbier up to date on short forms in a status report for a July 8 hearing.
Haycraft wrote that a plaintiff steering committee moved for leave to file more short forms and deem them timely.
"Transocean has delayed moving for entry of a motion for default pending the processing of claims by the clerk's office," he wrote.
He wrote that parties were negotiating a procedure for dismissing short forms due to settlement with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
He wrote that if they can't agree on a procedure, they would propose that the court enter an appropriate order based on briefs they submitted.
The short forms add to a pile of 463 formal complaints pending before Barbier.