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Acuna v. Brown & Root Inc.

Citation: 30 ELR 20296
No. No. 98-51073, 200 F.3d 335/(5th Cir., 01/04/2000)

The court holds that the Price-Anderson Act conferred federal jurisdiction on a district court in a removal action where individuals alleged tortious injury arising from uranium mining. In two separate class action suits, over 1,000 individuals alleged personal injury and property damage arising from a mining company's uranium mining and processing activities. The company removed the cases to federal court. The court first holds that the Price-Anderson Act confers exclusive federal jurisdiction over all claims related to uranium mining. Under the Act, federal district courts have jurisdiction with respect to any public liability action arising out of or resulting from a nuclear incident. A nuclear incident is defined as encompassing any occurrence causing personal or property damage that arises out of toxic, radioactive, explosive, or other hazardous properties of atomic or byproduct materials. Uranium extraction and processing are part of the nuclear weapons and power industries, and, therefore, come within the ambit of the Act. Therefore, the district court's exercise of removal under the Act was proper. The court next holds that the district court's pre-discovery orders requiring expert support for the details of each individual's claim were appropriate. The orders essentially required information the individuals should have had before filing their claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)(3). Because the affidavits supplied by the individuals did not provide the required information, the district court did not commit clear error or an abuse of discretion in refusing to allow discovery to proceed.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (7 pp., ELR Order No. L-166).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Bruce L. Jamison
Jamison & Associates
1001 Texas Ave., Houston TX 77002
(713) 222-2756

Counsel for Defendants
John R. Breihan
McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore
Capitol Center
919 Congress Ave., Austin TX 78701
(512) 495-6093