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In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon"

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20313
Nos. MDL No. 2179, (E.D. La., 09/30/2011) (Barbier, J.)

A district court granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss various individuals' personal injury claims stemming from their exposure to oil and dispersants following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The individuals filed suit against oil drillers, cleanup responders, and a dispersant manufacturer. The responders and the manufacturer argued that the claims against them should be dismissed because the federal government authorized and directed the use of the dispersants and that they are therefore entitled to derivative immunity. The defendants, however, did not receive government approval to use the dispersant. Rather, the allegations infer that an oil company was in control of response actions. The court, therefore, denied the defendants' motion to dismiss on this ground. But the court dismissed the individuals' state law claims because they are preempted by maritime law. And while the plaintiffs adequately stated claims for negligence, gross negligence, and product liability under maritime law, the court dismissed their battery and nuisance claims. In addition, medical monitoring costs are available as a form of damages under maritime law, but only non-seaman plaintiffs may seek punitive damages.