Seeking more than $5 million in damages, a class action has been filed against the owners and operators of an oil and gas well that blew out Aug. 11 near Paincourtville.

Individually and on behalf of all similarly situated, Eleanor Sherman filed suit against Mantle Oil and Gas Aug. 18 in federal court in New Orleans.

The oil and gas well was located in a sugar-cane field northwest of Paincourtville. The blow out allegedly released oil, gas, diesel-hydrocarbons, brine and other material. Residents within miles of the well were required to evacuate, the suit claims.

The lawsuit claims that hundreds of individuals were exposed to harmful substances known to cause serious health problems, including respiratory problems, allergic reactions, irritations, skin problems, burning and blistering of the skin, and burning or irritation of the eyes.

The defendant is accused of breaching a legally-imposed duty of reasonable care, failing to maintain its well, failing to operate the well in a safe manner, and failing to follow its own procedures to prohibit a release of oil, gas, diesel-hydrocarbons and other toxic substances.

Mantle Oil and Gas is accused of willful, wanton, reckless and gross negligence.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for inconvenience and trespass, remediation and replacement of all affected personal and real property, diminution of property value, loss of use, mental anguish caused by property damages, business interruption, damages for delayed return and/or access and/or for being required to shelter in place, for damages to trees, shrubs, soil and crops, personal injuries, punitive damages, interest, attorney fees and court costs.

The proposed class is represented by Scott R. Bickford and Lawrence J. Centola, III of Martzell & Bickford in New Orleans and Ronnie Glynn Penton in Bogalusa. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02774

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