Two big names among Texas trial lawyers are among the 17 attorneys named by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to serve in leadership roles in the federal multidistrict litigation against BP and other companies associated with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.Ervin A. Gonzalez of Coral Gables, Fla.
In an Oct. 8 order signed in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Dallas attorney Scott Summy of Baron & Budd was appointed to the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee.
Summy is head of Baron & Budd's water contamination team. He has a lengthy track record battling BP and a history of leading water contamination cases.
As co-lead counsel on the Executive Committee, Summy will help coordinate the activities of the 15-member Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, of which he is also a member.
"It's a tremendous honor to be a member of this distinguished panel," Summy told Business Wire. "We're organizing and will stay on track for a spring 2012 trial. We will do everything possible to protect the rights of those who have been harmed by this oil spill."
The trial will be held without a jury and is expected to last about eight weeks. Issues related to damages will be tried separately.
According to the Baron & Budd website, the water contamination team represents more than 180 municipalities, water providers and private well owners in 19 states in groundwater contamination litigation over gasoline additive Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) . Summy is also one of the attorneys appointed as lead plaintiffs' counsel in the MTBE Multi-District Litigation.
Along with Summy, the BP Plaintiffs' Executive Committee appointees are Lafayette, La., attorney James Parkerson Roy; New Orleans, La., attorney Stephen Herman; and Pensacola, Fla., attorney Brian Barr.
Among the 15 attorneys named for the Plaintiff Steering Committee is Mikal Watts. He is a partner at Watts Guerra Craft LLP, which has its corporate headquarters in San Antonio and offices in Houston, Corpus Christi, Edinburg and Austin.
Watts gained national attention in product liability cases against Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Co. regarding allegedly defective tires and vehicle rollovers. In a case against the Chrysler Corp. over possible defects on liftgate latches on its minivans, the WGC website claims Watts won for plaintiffs "one of the largest actual damages verdicts in the history of the United States."
The Plaintiff Steering Committee has the responsibility of arranging discovery, hearings and meetings, trial preparation and any other procedural motions involving plaintiff counsel.
More than 100 lawyers had submitted applications for the lead role, which requires attorneys to coordinate discovery and motions. Lawyers on the committee stand to earn the highest attorney fees. The MDL includes about 300 lawsuits asserting personal injury, wrongful death, economic and environmental claims plus claims brought by governmental agencies.
The order states that the appointments to the committees are for one year from the date of the order.
In addition to Texas attorneys Summy and Watts, the other members of the Plaintiff Steering Committee are:
Jeffrey Breit of Norfolk, Va.
Elizabeth Cabrasar of San Francisco, Calif.
Philip Cossich of Belle Chasse, La.
Alphonso Espy of Jackson, Miss.
Calvin Fayard of Denham Springs, La.
Robin Greenwald of New York, N.Y.
Rhon Jones of Montgomery, Ala.
Matthew Lundy of Lake Charles, La.
Michael Palmintier of Baton Rouge, La.
Pail Sterbcow of New Orleans, La.
MDL NO. 2179