NEW ORLEANS - U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan has ordered the state of Louisiana to turn over discovery documents requested by BP, or face daily fines and the possible dismissal of the state's claims against the oil company.
Shushan issued the order Oct. 27 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 (MDL) surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The order comes after Louisiana pushed back its discovery deadlines and still was unable to fully produce the required documents for BP.
BP is seeking 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 must 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 faces fines of up to $2,500 per day for every 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.
Should Louisiana go more than 21 days without complying with Shushan's order, the state faces the dismissal of all its oil spill claims in the MDL "for failure to prosecute."
District Judge Carl Barbier is overseeing this MDL. Magistrate Judge Shushan is overseeing the discovery and depositions.
Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179