Beaumont, Texas lawyer Brent Coon caused a bit of a stir during Friday's status conference for the multi-district litigation (MDL) regarding the BP oil spill when he introduced around seven million documents from a previous class action against BP.
Coon, who serves on a plaintiffs discovery committee, spoke at the end of a hearing in U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's courtroom at the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans.
Wearing a brown blazer and jeans, Coon said that the plaintiff steering committee asked to go through the files from discovery he conducted while representing plaintiffs in a suit regarding an explosion at BP's Texas City refinery. The files were contained on an external computer hard drive that Coon brought to the hearing.
"I'm not sure what just happened," Barbier said after Coon had presented the hard drive. The introduction of evidence was not placed on the day's agenda.
BP attorney Andrew Langan said he learned about the documents "about five seconds ago" when Barbier asked if he was aware of their content. Coon said that it was all the discovery he completed in the Texas City case which he made sure were left open to the public.
Some of the documents, however, fall under a confidentiality order by Barbier and from the Texas City case regarding trade secrets and other sensitive information. Langan asked the court to make sure both confidentiality orders were adhered to.
New Orleans attorney Stephen Herman said that the plaintiff counsel would adhere to any confidentiality orders regarding documents on the hard drive. Counsel for other defendants also asked that the court made the documents available to them as well.
BP's Texas City refinery exploded in 2005, killing 19 and injuring 170 people. Coon was part of the plaintiff leadership committee in the subsequent litigation. In 2009 the Occupational Safety & Health Administration fined BP $87 million for failing to fix safety hazards that led to the explosion.
Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179