The Work

October 11, 2010 12:24 PM

Steering Committee Members Selected for Gulf Coast Oil Spill Suits

Posted by Brian Baxter

A U.S. district court judge in New Orleans has picked 15 lawyers to lead a plaintiffs steering committee in multidistrict oil spill litigation against BP and several other defendants stemming from the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last April.

The steering committee will take the lead representing fishermen, businesspersons, and property owners suing BP and other companies for their alleged involvement in the massive oil spill, according to The Associated Press. The lawyers and their firms will help shape the direction of the litigation and get a larger share of any final settlement or damages verdict.

As we reported last month, scores of high-profile lawyers, including David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, had sought spots on the steering committee as a means of playing a leading role in the litigation. But Boies was not among the lawyers selected by federal judge Carl Barbier in his four-page order on Friday.

Louisiana lawyers James Roy of Domengeaux Wright Roy & Edwards and Stephen Herman of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar were named to an executive panel to coordinate the larger group, The AP reports. The two had already been acting as interim plaintiffs co-liaison counsel in coordinating with the federal court.

Joining Roy and Herman on the executive panel are steering committee members Scott Summy of Baron & Budd in Dallas and Brian Barr of Pensacola, Fla.-based Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor.

Five firms with Louisiana ties landed roles on the committee: Philip Cossich, Jr., of Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor, Calvin Fayard, Jr., of Fayard & Honeycutt, Matthew Lundy of Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South, Michael Palmintier of deGravelles, Palmintier, Holthaus & Frugé, and Paul Sterbcow of Lewis, Kullman, Sterbcow & Abramson.

Also on the steering committee are Ervin Gonzalez of Coral Gables, Fla.-based Colson Hicks Eidson, Jeffrey Breit of Norfolk's Breit Drescher Imprevento & Walker, Robert Cunningham, Jr., of Mobile's Cunningham Bounds, Rhon Jones of Montgomery, Ala.-based Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, and Mikal Watts of Texas firm Watts, Guerra & Craft.

Among the more recognizable names is Jackson, Miss.-based solo practitioner Mike Espy, a former congressman and secretary of agriculture during the Clinton administration. Espy also has offices in Washington, D.C., and is affiliated with national plaintiffs firm Morgan & Morgan.

Two big name plaintiffs lawyers have taken spots on the 15-lawyer committee as well: Robin Greenwald of New York's Weitz & Luxenberg and Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco. (Cabraser previously represented plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill and has taken a lead role in litigation against Toyota over faulty acceleration in its cars; click here for a video of Greenwald discussing oil spill litigation at a conference this summer.)

Of the attorneys that were selected for the steering committee, two (Cabraser and Watts) appear on a list of top plaintiffs lawyers covered on this site last week. Five other firms picked for the steering committee--Baron & Budd, Colson Hicks Eidson, Herman Herman Katz, Levin Papantonio, and Weitz & Luxenberg--have lawyers from their ranks on the list.

Reuters reports that among those not selected for steering committee membership were plaintiffs bar heavyweights like Ronald Motley of Motley Rice and W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm.


Our colleages at The National Law Journal and The Am Law Litigation Daily will have more on the steering committee appointments. Go to and

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