Judge strikes class certification in gas spill suit; gives plaintiffs 90 days to try again

Alejandro de los Rios Aug. 4, 2010, 3:00pm

Chief Judge Lloyd Medley Jr. granted two defense motions to strike plaintiff's class allegations and motions for certification on July 30 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Orleans Parish resident Willie Shepherd is suing NAFT Inc., Canal Indemnity Co. and Adel Mohamed after the tanker truck Mohamed was driving allegedly overturned while coming off the highway and caused 9,000 gallons of gasoline to spill in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans.

Gretna attorney Peter Brigandi filed the original petition for damages in October 2006, naming Shepherd and "all others similarly situated" as the plaintiffs in a class suit. The suit claimed the defendants were liable for personal injury, forced evacuation, fright and other causes.

Brigandi filed a preliminary motion to certify the suit as a class action in March 2007, but a hearing on the class certification was never held.

New Orleans attorneys Elton Duncan III, Kelley Sevin and Tammy Harris make up the defense counsel.

On June 9, Harris filed a motion to strike the plaintiff's motion to certify and to strike the class allegations. The motion stated that the plaintiffs were not entitled to bring causes of action as a class because they did not follow proper class certification procedure.

Medley ruled for the defense and gave plaintiff counsel 90 days to file a revised motion for class certification.

The accident in question occurred on Oct. 9, 2006, and Shepherd's suit was filed Oct. 11.

The defense filed an unopposed motion to consolidate the Shepherd suit with a suit filed by Baton Rouge attorneys Joseph Possa and Stephanie Possa on behalf of Karl Scott.

In July 2007, New Orleans attorney Darlene Jacobs filed a suit on behalf of 117 Orleans Parish residents who also claimed damages as a result of the truck accident. That suit has also been consolidated with the Shepherd case.

Medley set a scheduling order on April 28 ordering the plaintiffs to name all parties and produce a fact and plaintiff list by May 28.

Plaintiff complied with that order on May 25.

The case file did not contain the defense fact and plaintiff list that Lloyd had ordered produced by June 28.

All discovery is ordered to be completed Aug. 27.

No trial date has been set in this trial.

Orleans Parish Case 2006-11133

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