Judge extends discovery deadlines in suit against New Orleans over gas leak

Alejandro de los Rios Nov. 23, 2010, 2:10pm


Orleans Parish Judge Ethel Julien granted a plaintiff motion to extend discovery in a suit against the city of New Orleans involving a 2003 gas leak.

Orleans resident Barry Blackman leads a group of 104 plaintiffs seeking damages against New Orleans, Barriere Construction Co., Hard Rock Construction Co. and Scottsdale Insurance after Hard Rock allegedly caused a gas leak in 2003 while undergoing construction in the St. Roch neighborhood in New Orleans.

Julien's order extends an Aug. 30 discovery cut-off date until Dec. 31, at which point all plaintiff depositions must be completed.

New Orleans attorney Harrison Henderson III filed the original petition for damages in December 2004. The suit claims that the plaintiffs sustained physical and mental damage after being exposed to natural gas from a pipeline rupture for 45-55 minutes.

The hearing on the plaintiffs motion was continued twice before Julien ruled on it Nov. 19.

Harrison claimed that he has been working on this case alone due to his firm losing two of its seven partners and two of his paralegals. Harrison is asking for at least 90 more days to properly conduct discovery of the defendants.

Baton Rouge attorneys John Wolff III, Collin LeBlanc, Nancy Gilbert and Christopher Jones are representing the defense.

In their opposition to the plaintiff's motion, the defense argues that no extension for discovery should be granted because the order setting the Aug. 30 deadline was set on March 3, giving both parties more than five months to conduct depositions after several extensions were given. The defense claims that, "at the risk of having their claims dismissed for their failure to appear within that time frame, plaintiffs and their attorney did not respond to multiple requests for available [depositions] dates."

The defense successfully moved for involuntarily dismissal of the claims of 56 of the original plaintiffs because they repeatedly failed to show up for depositions.

Orleans Parish Case 2004-17222

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