Local lawyer to oversee BP claims
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier named Barr, along with two attorneys from Louisiana and one from Texas, to a special Plaintiffs Steering Committee after reviewing the resumes of more than 100 attorneys.
In his order appointing Barr, a partner with the Pensacola law firm of Levin Papantonio, Barbier said his duties as a member of the PSC’s executive committee will include:
• Initiate, coordinate, and conduct all pretrial discovery on behalf of plaintiffs.
• Examine witnesses and introduce evidence at hearings on behalf of plaintiffs.
n Act as spokesman for all plaintiffs at pretrial proceedings and in response to any inquiries by the Court.
“There were some very, very good trial lawyers that didn’t get selected,” Barr said. “I can’t tell you why he chose me. I suspect he (Barbier) wanted representation from all the Gulf states, and wanted attorneys with experience in admiralty and environmental law.”
A graduate of Baylor University and the Florida State University College of Law, Barr will help coordinate litigation procedures for hundreds of other lawyers representing individual plaintiffs in cases against BP and other companies.
“We’re the head of the spear,” he said of the PSC’s four-man executive committee. “Our job is to put pressure on the litigation to make BP and the other defendants get serious about compensating people.”
As a result of a hearing held in Idaho in July, a seven-judge panel decided to consolidate the hundreds of spill-related lawsuits in the Barbier’s court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Barbier will be overseeing more than 300 consolidated lawsuits brought by fishing, tourism and real estate interests claiming harm from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Barr said the executive committee will directly control and coordinate the various phases of the class action litigation, including which experts get hired, how BP, Transocean and Halliburton will be questioned, and strategies for the master trial scheduled for February 2012.
“I’m excited and honored to be chosen It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Barr said. “But then it starts you thinking about the magnitude of what you’re doing.
“It’s certainly made me conscious about the scope of damage the spill has caused people along the Gulf Coast.”