Current Developments
Last Updated: 08/24/2012
 
ATTENTION RESIDENTS OF ST. BERNARD PARISH: PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE AS IT MAY AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. Please see this Map [Exhibit B] to determine whether your house or business is in the Class Action.
 
August 24, 2012 On August 23, 2012, the Court granted the Motion for Partial Disbursement of Funds, filed by the Court-appointed Cy Pres committee. A copy of the Order is here.
July 30, 2012 On July 27, 2012, the Court-appointed Cy Pres committee, filed a Motion for Partial Disbursement of Funds from the Cy Pres Fund Established by the Court to the St. Bernard Parish School Board. The motion and exhibits are available here: Motion, Memorandum in Support, Exhibit 1. The Motion will be submitted to the Court on August 22, 2012. Objections to the motion, if any, shall be filed by August 14, 2012.
December 11, 2009 On December 2, 2009, the Court took under submission a Joint Motion To Disburse Duplicate Settlements And Attorneys' Fees by Murphy Oil USA, Inc. On December 9, 2009 the Court granted the Motion. There was no oral argument on this motion. The Order granting the motion is attached.

Further, on December 2, 2009, the Court met with the appointed members of the cy pres committee. No decisions have been made regarding the use of the funds. The committee will deliberate and suggest several options to the Court for its approval. Any decisions made will be posted on this website.

September 18, 2009 On September 16, 2009, a hearing was held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon on a Joint Motion to Disburse Funds and Settle Cases and to a Appoint Cy Pres Committee. The attached Minute Entry and Order reflects the discussion and outcome of the meeting.
May 13, 2009 On May 12, 2009, a status conference was held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. The attached Minute Entry reflects the discussion during the meeting.
The Court has received several letters from residents of St. Bernard Parish indicating their objection to the proposed use of some of the cy pres funds. It is, therefore, appropriate to convene a hearing to provide individuals who object the opportunity to formally state their objection and explain why they are objecting. Accordingly, a hearing will be held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon on May 18, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.
March 13, 2009 On March 10, 2009, the Court issued an order that the attached document reflecting funds disbursed by Bourgeois Bennett to various attorneys in accordance with the Court’s Order dated November 24, 2008 be entered into the record.

On February 13, 2009, the Court issued an Order and Reasons denying the Defendant’s Motion to Revert/Reallocate Surplus Compensation Funds. (Rec. Doc. No. 2736).

November 24, 2008 On August 22, 2008, the Court received a final report from the Special Master recommending various allocations of the Common Benefit fees in this matter. (Rec. Doc. No. 2457). The Court stated that any objections or motions or modifications of the report should be filed by September 15, 2008. On October 6, 2008, this Court issued its Order & Reasons outlining the common benefit fund. The Order & Reasons stated, "Additional common benefit costs may have been discovered or incurred. If there are any outstanding common benefit costs, appropriate motions to recover the same should be filed within ten days of this order." The Court received motions for disbursement of funds, and set a hearing to determine costs on November 5, 2008 with oral argument. Pursuant to the order, the Court received eighteen (18) objections. The parties submitted material in support of those objections, and the Court heard oral argument on those requests on November 5, 2008.

On November 6, 2008, the Court met with Daniel H. Clavier and Dennis McCartney, Certified Public Accountants, and instructed them to review the materials submitted by the parties and to make recommendations to the Court as to which costs are appropriate and consistent with Court orders. (Rec. Doc. No. 2682). Shortly thereafter, the Court was contacted by Sidney Torres and Gerald Meunier of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and was informed that the attorneys were involved in settlement discussions to resolve the disposition of attorneys’ fees as well as costs.

In the midst of settlement discussions, the attorneys asked about waiving the administrative fees. In accordance with the §2.7.2 of the Guide to Judiciary Policies and Procedures, fees are to be collected from the interest on sums invested and available for distribution. Any waiver of the fee must be referred to the Director of the Administrative Office under the Judicial Conference directive and is not subject to judicial discretion. Upon learning this, the attorneys modified their settlement agreement to reflect a deduction for the administrative fees. The attorneys have submitted the attached settlement agreement. The Court ordered that any objections to the settlement agreement be filed on or before November 24, 2008 at 12:00 p.m. No objection was filed.

As of this date, it is ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall draw on the deposited common benefit fund and disburse the listed specified amounts of principal, plus accrued interest as set forth in the document. After distribution of funds for pending invoices, Bourgeois Bennett, LLC shall disburse the remaining funds, $29,439,746.96, plus applicable accrued interest, to plaintiffs’ attorneys in the amounts specified. Upon entry of this Order, all pending motions for common benefit cost reimbursement and any and all actual or potential claims between and among the common fund applications for fee allocation and/or the taxation of costs (except those relating to the fee and cost dispute between and among Madro Bandaries, Wiley Beevers, and Sean Alfortish), shall be considered withdrawn and dismissed with prejudice, by agreement. The dispute between Madro Bandaries, Wiley Beevers, and Sean Alfortish shall be heard at trial, set for February 17, 2009 at 9:00 a.m.

 

November 18, 2008 The Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel has indicated that all counsel have reached a settlement regarding the distribution of funds in the registry of the Court. Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel reports that this agreement reflects the following distribution, except with regard to funds attributable to Madro Bandaries. The third column ("Total") in the attached document represents the amount each fund applicant now would receive in fee pursuant to the settlement agreement, except that with regard to funds attributable to Madro Bandaries, the fee amount of $210,231 and $80,000 in common benefit costs will remain in the registry of the Court pending resolution of a dispute regarding these sums. If there is any objection to the above distribution, the objection should be filed on or before Monday, November 24, 2008 at 12:00 p.m.
August 22, 2008 On August 22, 2008, the Court received the Special Master's final report on attorney fee allocations.  The Court entered an Order acknowledging receipt of the report and setting a hearing for October 1, 2008, to afford counsel an opportunity to be heard.
April 14, 2008 A conference was held on this date in the Chambers of Judge Eldon E. Fallon with Special Master Judge Robert Klees. Special Master Klees delivered his Preliminary Report regarding the allocation of the common benefit fund. Counsel are reminded that pursuant to Special Master Klees’ Case Management Order they have ten days from the date of the Preliminary Report to serve objections to the Preliminary Report on the Special Master and counsel to the Special Master, Mr. Dominic Gianna. Further information can be found in the Court’s Minute Entry.
February 19, 2008 The Court has entered three Case Management Orders (Rec. Doc. Nos. 2140, 2141, and 2142) to address the damages issues for those Plaintiffs who opted out of the Settlement Agreement. For further information, please see the Court’s Orders.
October 22, 2007 Pursuant to the Court’s Order, a status conference shall be held on November 8, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon to discuss the future proceedings with opt-out plaintiffs, including selecting trial dates.
July 17, 2007 The status conference that was scheduled for July 12, 2007, at 2:00 p.m. has been continued to July 26, 2007, at 9:00 a.m. Please see the Court’s Order  regarding this issue.
July 2, 2007 A status conference was held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon on June 14, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss the method for future proceedings with opt-outs and plaintiffs in related cases. For further information, please see the Court’s Minute Entry from the proceedings.

Another status conference will be held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon on July 12, 2007 date at 2:00 p.m. to further discuss this issue.

May 4, 2007 A status conference was held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon on April 18, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss the method for future proceedings with opt-outs and plaintiffs in related cases. For further information, please see the Court’s Minute Entry and the Transcript from the proceedings.
April 24, 2007 The Court issued an Order appointing Retired Judge Robert Klees to assist with apportionment of the attorney fee award. The appointment was made after a hearing was held in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon on April 20, 2007. For more information on the hearing, please see the Transcript  from the proceedings.
May 3, 2007 On April 25, 2007, the Court ordered that the attached Notice for Failure to Provide Access for Remediation be provided to class action property owners and residents.
March 20, 2007 Pursuant to the Court’s Order a status conference shall be held on April 18, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon to discuss the method for future proceedings with opt-outs and plaintiffs in related cases.
January 30, 2007 The Court granted final approval of the Class Action Settlement. The Court ordered Murphy to pay attorneys’ fees, expenses, and class representative incentive awards. The Court also ordered that Pretrial Orders No. 8 and 8A be vacated and that all amounts set-aside from voluntary settlement awards in accordance with these Pretrial Orders be refunded to the parties from whom they were withheld. Please see the Court’s Order and Reasons and the Final Judgment for more information
January 10, 2007 A fairness hearing was held on January 4, 2007 in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the hearing, the Court heard argument regarding the fairness of the settlement program to determine whether it should be granted final approval. The Court also heard a statement from Special Master Judge Robert Klees regarding the withdrawal of objections and statements from two objectors. This matter is presently under submission. Please see a copy of the Court’s Minute Entry, which will be posted shortly, for more information.
November 28, 2006 The PSC filed a Motion for Common Benefit Fees and Expenses on November 13, 2006, and Murphy filed a Memorandum in Opposition on November 29, 2006. The Court has this matter under advisement.
October 10, 2006 A hearing was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the hearing, the Court preliminarily approved the parties’ Settlement Agreement and Notice Program and set the date of the fairness hearing for final approval of the Settlement Agreement for January 4, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. Please see the Court’s Order Granting Preliminary Approval of the Class Settlement and Notice Program and the Settlement Agreement.
September 25, 2006 A status conference was held on this date in the Chambers of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, counsel stated that they come to an amicable resolution of the case and have executed a Memorandum of Understanding. The parties will present a Final Settlement Agreement and Notice Program to the Court on October 10, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. The Phase One trial scheduled to begin on October 2, 2006 is CANCELLED. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry, dated September 25, 2006.
August 31, 2006 The monthly status conference was held on August 23, 2006 in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, counsel discussed the topics set forth in their Joint Agenda, including notice and implementation of the clean-up plan. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry [#505], dated August 23, 2006.
August 1, 2006

The monthly status conference was held on July 28, 2006 in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, counsel discussed the topics set forth in their Joint Agenda, including discovery issues and Plaintiff expert reports. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry [#479], dated July 28, 2006.

June 16, 2006 The monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, counsel discussed the topics set forth in their Joint Agenda, including a potential opt-in period and protocol for opting in, Plaintiffs’ response to Murphy’s discovery, the Vita Owens situation, and Wayne Duchmann. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry [#393] dated June 12, 2006.
June 6, 2006 Please see the revised Discovery Plan for Phase One [#388] for relevant discovery deadlines.
May 16, 2006 The trial of Phase One is continued from August 14, 2006 to October 2, 2006. Please see the Court’s Order[#364] regarding this issue.
May 16, 2006 A monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, the Court addressed issues raised by counsel in their Joint Agenda, including ongoing disclosure of test results, discovery regarding punitive damages, Plaintiffs’ responses to Murphy’s discovery requests, amended discovery plan, notice to all parties of discovery, Murphy’s motion to clarify 7% set-asides, and safety training of Plaintiffs’ experts at Murphy’s facility. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry [#363] dated May 16, 2006.
April 6, 2006 A monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, the Court addressed issues raised by counsel in their Joint Agenda, including discovery plan modification for tank-related discovery, distribution of property test results to class members, class notices sent to those who request it from Murphy, LDEQ intervention, production of documents from the public domain from the Army Corps of Engineers, set-asides in light of Murphy’s expanded settlement area, and discovery problems. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry [#283] dated April 6, 2006. In addition, the Court heard argument on Plaintiffs’ Motion to Modify Court’s Set-Aside Order (see Pretrial Order No. 8A [#284]) and on Defendant’s Motion for Contempt (see this Minute Entry [#282]).
March 27, 2006 Please see the Court’s Order and Reasons [#277] regarding the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee’s Motion for Order to Set Aside Percentages for Common Benefit Work.
March 20, 2006 Please see the Discovery Plan [#270] implemented by the parties and approved by the Court on this date.
March 3, 2006 Please see the Court’s Order and Reasons [#257] approving the Trial Plan in this matter.
March 2, 2006 A monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, the Court addressed issues raised by counsel in their Joint Agenda, including the trial plan, class area testing and sampling plan, class notice dissemination, Murphy tank testing and sampling plan, and the Motion to Rescind Protective Order. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry [#255] dated March 2, 2006.
February 3, 2006 Please see the Court’s Order and Reasons approving Rule 23(c)(2) Notice to Class Members. The notice is attached to the Order and Reasons.
February 1, 2006 Murphy Oil has informed the Court that it intends to appeal class certification. In connection with that appeal, the Court has denied the Defendant’s Motion to Stay Proceedings. Please see the Court’s Order dated January 31, 2006.
January 31, 2006 A monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, the Court addressed issues raised by counsel in their Joint Agenda, including the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification and Trial Plan, Plaintiffs’ Proposed Order regarding accounting of common benefit time and expenses, and issues surrounding clean-up of the properties at issue. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry dated January 31, 2006.
January 30, 2005 Please see the Court's Order and Reasons regarding Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. See also Exhibit A and Exhibit B (class certification map). 
December 20, 2005 A monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, the Court addressed issues raised by counsel in their Joint Agenda, including issues related to class certification discovery, Murphy Oil’s settlements with represented Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs’ Notice of Objection to Discovery propounded by Murphy, the parties’ use of the media and public announcements, and the Defendant’s Motions to Dismiss. These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry dated December 20, 2005.

Please also see the Court’s Order and Reasons regarding Defendant’s Motions to Dismiss.

November 22, 2005 Please see the Court’s Minute Entry dated November 22, 2005. The Court shall hear the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification on January 12, 2006.
November 15, 2005 Please see the Court’s Order and Reasons dated November 10, 2005 regarding Plaintiffs’ Motion to Supervise Ex Parte Communications.
November 8, 2005 A monthly status conference was held on this date in the Courtroom of Judge Eldon E. Fallon. At the conference, the Court addressed issues raised by counsel in their Agenda, including case management, the joint protective and preservation order, Plaintiffs’ First Request for Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes and For Inspection Protocol, Plaintiffs’ Motion and Order for Appointment of Interim Class Counsel, and settlement class discussions.

These matters are memorialized in the Court’s Minute Entry dated November 8, 2005.