Oil Rig Collapse Spells L-A-W-S-U-I-T-S!

May 11, 2010



The demise of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 cost the lives of 11 rig workers.  The damage to the environment will be devastating, affecting hundreds of species of fish, birds and wildlife along the Gulf Coast.  The economic impact on the fishing industry and the tourism industry could be tremendous.   There have already been numerous lawsuits filed and the number will just continue to grow.

The docket databases on Westlaw can assist you in determining who the legitimate parties are in these suits and the various causes of action that might arise.  Access the DOCK-ALL database and run a search similar to this to get started:

TI(B.P. “BRITISH PETROLEUM” TRANSOCEAN HALLIBURTON “LLOYDS OF LONDON”) & ST(LA MS AL FL TX) & ENVIRONMENT! “WRONGFUL DEATH” “DEATH ON THE HIGH SEAS” “OIL POLLUTION ACT” & DA(LAST 30 DAYS).

Click on the PDF icons listed in the dockets to view the complaints as filed with the court.  If you are interested in following the status of a particular docket, simply click the TRACK THIS DOCKET link on the upper left of the docket.

The largest oil spill in history occurred during the 1991 Persian Gulf War; it released approximately 520 million gallons of oil, dwarfing the second largest spill.  The Deepwater Horizon spill is gushing 280,000 gallons of oil per day.  Some are estimating that within 50 days, the Deepwater Horizon spill might become the worst oil spill in U.S. history, overtaking the Exxon-Valdez incident which spilled eleven million gallons of crude oil along the southern coast of Alaska in 1989.  Exxon-Valdez caused a national outcry against “big oil” in the United States and led to the passage of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act.

To view the current codification of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, do a Find to 33 USC 2701.   Click the blue hyperlink at the top of the document, Chapter 40 – Oil Pollution – to incorporate the text of all sections of the Act in to one document for ease of reading and printing.