Judge considers case against ExxonMobil, others, over radiocative exposure

By Alejandro de los Rios | Nov 5, 2010


Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Ethel Julien has taken a defense motion for exception under advisement in a wrongful death suit against more than a dozen oil companies who allegedly exposed workers to radioactive materials.

Olivia Bailey leads 70 plaintiffs in a suit filed against ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Texaco, 11 other oil companies and seven pipe-cleaning contractors after workers were allegedly exposed to radioactive material while cleaning pipes for the defendants.

Marrero attorneys Jeremiah Spargue and Timonthy Falcon and New Orleans attorney Frank Buck filed the original petition for damages in January 2009.

The suit claims that the oil and pipe-cleaning companies are liable to the families of the 70 workers who died after being exposed to radioactive waste.

New Orleans attorney Julie Silbert is representing Marathon Oil.

She filed an exception of prescription in October, which states, "the cause of action for wrongful death prescribes one year after the date of death." It also argues that, "plaintiffs must establish that defendants engaged in fraudulent conduct that prevented plaintiffs from knowing to assert their wrongful death claims against defendants within one year of the death of the respective defendant."

In an amended petition, the plaintiffs list all the deceased as having died between 1982 and 2007.

The defense claims that the plaintiffs have not claimed cause of action for strict liability under Article 2317 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Proceture. Article 2317 assigns the plaintiffs the burden to prove that the defense is liable vice or defect in equipment that created an unreasonable risk to employees.

Julien's rulings could affect similar motions filed by Placid Oil, Occidental Chemical Corp., ConocoPhillips, Shell Oil, Swepi LP, and Maxus Bulgaria Inc. Judge Julien will hear their motions for exception of prescription Nov. 19. Counsel for the plaintiffs and Marathon were given 10 days to submit memos to the judge prior to her ruling on Marathon's motion.

Silbert is representing Maxus Bulgaria Inc.

New Orleans attorney Molly Steele is representing Placid Oil and Occidental Chemical.

New Orleans attorney Michele DeShazo is representing ConocoPhillips.

Mandeville attorney Mary Johnson is representing Shell.

Orleans Parish Case 2009-01973

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