Terrebonne, Lafourche prepare for oil-spill suits


HOUMA – Government agencies in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are gearing up for a potential legal battle with the companies linked to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the months-long spill.

April 20 is the deadline a U.S. District judge in New Orleans has set for individuals, businesses and government entities to file a “short form” with the federal court, a move that essentially asserts those individuals and groups their right to recover damages from BP, Transocean and other companies that could be held responsible.

For local governments, public libraries, schools and levee districts, the potential damage would come from a loss in revenue, such as sales and property taxes.

The form combines legal claims for damages with a form answering a claim that Transocean is attempting to make that it should only be held liable for damages up to the value of its vessel, or rig.

“A lot of organizations and people in the area are filing the short form,” said Chett Chiasson, executive director of Port Fourchon. “It’s an easy way to file and say you’re reserving the right to file suit.”

But not all local governments and agencies are taking the opportunity, citing minimal impacts since the spill began. Those who are filing said they’re doing so because the future impacts are still possible.

Individuals can file forms by visiting www.laed.uscourts.gov/oilspill/forms/forms.htm or calling 1-877-497-5926.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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