US judicial panel asked to consolidate more than 300 oil spill lawsuits before single court


BOISE, Idaho (AP) — More than 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal judicial panel in Idaho is being asked to consolidate more than 300 spill-related lawsuits against BP and other companies before a single court.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation holds a hearing Thursday in Boise on whether and where to centralize the lawsuits for key pretrial rulings. Idaho is the next scheduled stop for the roving seven-judge panel.

Gulf Coast residents and businesses are suing for severe economic losses. Many want the lawsuits centralized in New Orleans, closest to the disaster.

BP and other companies involved in the spill favor oil-friendly Houston. Courts in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are also being suggested.

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