Mexican states seek equal standing in BP oil spill litigation

By Steve Korris | May 2, 2011

NEW ORLEANS � Three Mexican states claim equal standing with American states in suing BP over the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

On April 26, the Mexican states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to deny a motion from BP to dismiss their suits.

Their lawyer, Enrique Serna of San Antonio, wrote that his clients "are in the same bathtub that BP and others polluted."

"In fact, even the name of the body of water at issue herein, the Gulf of Mexico, gives unmistakable notice that Mexico was in close proximity," Serna wrote.

"There is no physical barrier between U. S. and Mexican waters � only a line on a map that defendants' oil spill was free to ignore and did transgress."

He wrote that the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 addressed the effects of spills without regard to distances or foreign status of claimants.

He wrote that the United States and Mexico entered into treaties and agreements providing for protection of the environment, and that he would amend the complaint to specify the treaties authorizing them to maintain the suit.

He asserted claims based on sovereign control over land and waters as well as state and proprietary interests in ownership of natural resources.

"Plaintiffs do not purport to represent the interests of the Republic of Mexico, itself, or any claims the Republic of Mexico may have against defendants for damages to the republic's natural resources or otherwise," he wrote.

"As with the United States, the federal government has interests separate and apart from the states comprising it," he wrote.

He wrote that the actions of his clients were the subject of conferring and consulting with the republic.

Tamaulipas lies on the coast south of Texas, with Veracruz still farther south.

Quintana Roo occupies the eastern edge of the Yucatan peninsula, and it includes tourist destination Cozumel Island.

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