Monday, May 10, 2010

BP Wants Oil Spill Lawsuits Consolidated in Houston

The Houston Chronicle reported:

BP wants more than 70 lawsuits over the Gulf oil spill consolidated before a federal judge in Houston.

The oil giant is asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to have U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes to hear pretrial matters for all the cases.

Potential class-action lawsuits have been filed in every Gulf Coast state. Plaintiffs include commercial fishermen, business interests, property owners and others.

Houston happens to have a Baker Botts office. Baker Botts is the law firm of James A. Baker, III, the former Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury. James Baker led the review of BP's 2005 Texas City refinery explosion which killed 15 people. The report went light on BP CEO Lord John Browne.

BP's post spill language had a Bush-Katrina like echo. Does this mean a Bushie is advising BP? Frances Townsend, Baker Botts risk management consultant and author of the abysmal White House Lessons Learned report, specializes in government investigations.

It would be convenient for Houston's Baker Botts lawyers to defend the plethora of lawsuits in the hometown of big oil. As for the judge, his resume reads globalist. A few high profile decisions have a corporatist feel.

On May 7, 2009 Judge Hughes conducted a lunch ethics seminar for the Permian Basin Geophysical Society (PBGS). The title was "Dilemmas of Trust." PBGS' Annual Exploration meeting was held at the Midland Petroleum Club.

Judge Hughes runs in the same Council on Foreign Relations circle as James A. Baker, III. The question remains, is he a member of the petroleum club? Houston, do we have a problem?

Update: McClatchy ran their story on Hughes and his oil ties on May 26, over two weeks after this post. His name came up in an AP report on judges with oil ties.

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