Texas lawyer Coon adds 'first responder' plaintiffs in BP litigation

Steve Korris May 17, 2011, 2:00am

NEW ORLEANS – Brent Coon of Beaumont asserts claims for 125 clients in a potential class action over chemical effects of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and cleanup.

He filed a complaint in national litigation before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in April, and he amended it to add plaintiffs on May 13.

"Many of these plaintiffs were first responders to the oil spill cleanup and remediation efforts," he wrote.

He wrote that they participated in the "vessels of opportunity" program of oil company BP and in beach cleanup activities.

"Plaintiffs suffered both skin contact and inhalation of crude oil and chemical dispersants," he wrote.

Airplanes sprayed dispersants in close proximity to vessels, he wrote.

He wrote that many plaintiffs immediately experienced burning skin, rashes, headaches, watering eyes, coughing, nausea, dizziness, and confusion.

He wrote that some have manifested loss of feeling in their extremities, rectal bleeding, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

"The full extent of the damage caused by the mixture of crude oil and the dispersant chemicals used in the cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico have yet to be fully revealed," he wrote.

He claimed damages for loss of income in addition to pain, suffering, and anguish.

He supplied no details, instead adopting a master complaint that a plaintiff steering committee filed for all chemical exposure cases in March.

The master complaint seeks class action relief for captains and crews of cleanup vessels, shoreline cleanup workers, and all who live and work nearby.

Like other groups of plaintiffs in Barbier's court, chemical exposure plaintiffs pursue claims against oil company BP, rig owner Transocean, and rig investors.

Unlike other groups of plaintiffs, they pursue claims against cleanup contractors and chemical manufacturers.

Their complaint identifies cleanup defendants as Marine Spill Response Corporation, Airborne Support, Lynden Inc., Dynamic Aviation, International Air Response, Lane Aviation, National Response Corporation, O'Brien Response Management, The Modern Group, and DRC Emergency Services.

It identifies the manufacturer defendants as Nalco Inc., and unknown others.

It specifically seeks damages for captains and crews of vessels of opportunity.

"BP used at least 2,000 commercial and charter fishing vessels and other boats from communities along the shoreline to tow and deploy booms," the complaint states.

It states that oil hardened like varnish on hulls and decks.

It states that BP left holes and dents in vessels when it removed its equipment.

It states that Nalco's dispersant, Corexit, is harmful if ingested or inhaled, or if it comes into contact with skin.

It seeks compensation from BP and other drilling defendants for property damage, contractual damages, loss of profits and earning capacity, and damage to vessels, under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, maritime law, or charter agreements.

From all defendants, it seeks personal injury damages and medical monitoring.

It proposes a class action with subclasses for those with discernible physical injuries, those with no manifestation of injury, and those with property damage.

Barbier presides over oil spill suits from federal courts in many states by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation.

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