Judge Ethel Julien will hear a plaintiff motion to extend discovery on Nov. 17 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court in a suit against the city of New Orleans involving a 2003 gas leak.

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

New Orleans attorney Harrison Henderson III filed the original petition for damages in December 2004, naming 104 individual plaintiffs who alleged that they had sustained physical and mental damage after being exposed to natural gas from a pipeline rupture for 45-55 minutes.

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

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.

Julien gave a July 30 deadline for 10 more plaintiffs to appear at depositions they had previously missed.

Julien also set an Aug. 30 cut-off date for discovery.

On July 26, Harrison filed a motion to extend the discovery cut-off date, claiming that he had been working on the case alone since his firm lost two of its seven partners and the loss and sickness of two of his paralegals. Harrison is asking for at least 90 more days to properly conduct discovery of the defendants.

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, "[A]t 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."

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