Coon's firm seeks TRO extension over lost box of client files

By Marilyn Tennissen | Apr 22, 2014

A Beaumont law firm is seeking more time to prevent a Utah company from transferring mail containing sensitive information that it received by accident.

Brent Coon & Associates PC applied for a temporary restraining order against Northwest Research Inc. on March 28 in the Jefferson County District Court. 

The firm filed a request for an extension of the temporary restraining order on April 11. The original TRO was set to expire on that day, but NWR has not received service in the matter because it is coming from the Texas Secretary of State, the motion states. A hearing is scheduled for April 25 in the 136th District Court with Judge Milton Shuffield presiding.

As previously reported, Northwest Research has what appears to be a box of BCA client files relating to the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. A company website says Northwest Research Inc. (NWR), located in Salt Lake City, Utah, specializes in inventory research and management.

According to the original motion, BCA represents more than 10,000 clients, including several hundred from Jefferson County, in the BP Deep Water Horizon Spill Litigation currently pending in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (MDL 2179).

To resolve many of the claims, the MDL Court approved a Class Action Settlement in 2012. If claimants wanted to opt-out of the Class Action Settlement, they had to sign a form acknowledging that they wished "to be excluded from the Economic and Property Damage Class" by the Nov. 1, 2012, deadline.

BCA claims that as instructed, it shipped four boxes of Opt Out forms to the Exclusions Department for the class to Hammond, La., around Oct. 31, 2012.  According to the suit, the firm received confirmation from the U.S. Postal Service that the boxes were delivered before the Nov. 1, 2012, deadline, and never received any indication that the documents were missing.

However, BCA says that on March 19, 2014, they were notified that Northwest Research Inc. was in possession of what appeared to be one of the boxes of Opt-Out documents. The firm states it shipped four boxes of Opt-Out Forms to the exclusions department in Hammond, La., on Oct. 31, 2012.

BCA was told that the box was found at the Memphis, Tenn., Federal Express hub without any label on it “on or around Nov. 4, 2012,” the complaint states.

“BCA believes that the exclusions department in Hammond may have attempted to ship the box to one of the other persons responsible for dealing with opt-out forms, perhaps the Garden City Group or BP directly,” the suit states. “The exclusions department did not notify BCA that the box was lost in November 2012.”

The law firm states it cannot take possession of the box without risking the “appearance of impropriety” in the event the box is eventually returned to its proper owner, the class.

“Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if defendant, defendant’s officers, agents, servants, employees, successors and assigns, and attorneys are not immediately restrained from shipping a box of client documents back to Brent Coon & Associates or to any other entity or location, and there is no adequate remedy at law to grant plaintiff’s complete and final relief,” the motion states.

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