April 27, 2016

Judson Brandt, Trevor Thompson and Jeremy Branning secure victory for client against BP in oil spill related case

Attorneys Judson Brandt,  Trevor Thompson and Jeremy Branning assisted their client in securing a victory against BP at the Supreme Court of Alabama relating to litigation involving the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.  The Clark Partington attorneys persuaded the Supreme Court of Alabama to reverse a dismissal for their financial institution client.  In the underlying dispute, BP made unauthorized use of certain property owned by the firm’s client as part of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup efforts.  Many oil spill claims were collected by the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) Panel and placed before Judge Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The MDL litigation resulted, in part, in a class settlement agreement that identified the Economic & Property Damages Settlement class and covered many economic losses caused by the oil spill.  BP convinced the trial court that a financial institution’s trespass claims were released as part of that settlement.  The Supreme Court of Alabama, in a 5-2 decision, reversed the dismissal and held that the financial institution was not a member of the settlement class.  The court determined which of two provisions in the class definition governed financial institution’s class membership.  One provision states that financial institutions were not members of the class.  The other states that excluded financial institutions could file claims for damages to real property including the trespass claims at issue.  The Supreme Court of Alabama held that the provision allowing financial institutions to file certain claims did not go so far as to extend class membership, meaning that the firm’s client was not bound by the settlement’s class-wide release.  The opinion is accessible via the Supreme Court of Alabama’s website at https://acis.alabama.gov/displaydocs.cfm?no=713498&event=4JX0MGINU.