The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 25, 2013

Trial set to open for Gulf oil spill litigation

(Continued)

The trial originally was scheduled to start a year ago, but Barbier postponed it to allow BP to wrap up its settlement with the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee.

Barbier, 68, was nominated by President Bill Clinton and has served on the court since 1998. He had a private law practice, primarily representing small businesses and other plaintiffs in civil cases, and served as president of the New Orleans Bar Association before he joined the bench.

Dane Ciolino, a Loyola University law professor who has represented criminal defendants in Barbier's court, described him as a "no-nonsense" but even-tempered judge.

"He's very good at getting down to the pertinent issues," Ciolino said. "Some judges could be described as impatient, short or gruff. He is none of that."

Despite the bitter disputes at the root of the case, Barbier has maintained a collegial atmosphere at his monthly status conferences with the lawyers, cracking an occasional joke or good-naturedly ribbing attorneys over their college football allegiances.

Cordial with each other in the courtroom, the competing attorneys have saved their harshest rhetoric for court filings or news releases. Despite its settlement with BP last year, the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee attorneys won't be allies at trial with the London-based oil giant. And they still haven't resolved civil claims against Transocean or cement contractor Halliburton.

"These three companies' reckless, greed-driven conduct killed 11 good men, polluted the Gulf for years and left the region's economy in shambles. Any statement to the contrary is self-serving nonsense," Steve Herman, a lead plaintiffs' attorney, said in a recent statement.

A series of government investigations has exhaustively documented the mistakes that led to the blowout, spreading the blame among the companies. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said witnesses scheduled to testify at trial will reveal new information about the cause of the disaster.

"I think you're going to learn a lot, particularly about the culture that existed at BP and their priorities," Strange said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Minnesota prosecutor convicted of sex misconduct DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a northern Minnesota county attorney of sexual misconduct involving a 17-year-old girl after the prosecution argued the man was in a position of authority over the teenager. The jury found Cook County

    July 26, 2014

  • Some in 'torture' report denied chance to read it ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — About a dozen former CIA officials named in a classified Senate report on decade-old agency interrogation practices were notified in recent days that they would be able to review parts of the document in a secure room in suburban

    July 26, 2014

  • Police hunt for 2 who carjacked SUV, killed 3 kids PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police are searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit to raise money for their church, killing three siblings and critically injuring their mother and the carjacking vic

    July 26, 2014

  • 1 hurt in fiery Twin Cities interstate crash ROSEVILLE, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say one person was hurt in a fiery crash involving four vehicles on a Twin Cities interstate. The crash on Interstate 35 brought morning traffic to a halt during a rainy commute. The Minnesota State Patrol says a

    July 25, 2014

  • Black box found at Air Algerie wreckage site PARIS (AP) — French soldiers recovered a black box from the Air Algerie wreckage site in a desolate region of restive northern Mali on Friday, officials said. Terrorism hasn't been ruled out as a cause, although officials say the most likely reason f

    July 25, 2014

  • Ukraine reports overnight rebel attacks on border MOSCOW (AP) — The Ukrainian army on Friday claimed that soldiers came under artillery fire from the Russian side of the border overnight and were attacked by rebels in several other places in the restive east. Ukrainian forces are trying to close in

    July 25, 2014

  • Deal still elusive for Gaza cease-fire CAIRO (AP) — Turbulent negotiations to broker a temporary truce in the Gaza Strip are continuing against the backdrop of fresh Israeli attacks on Palestinian militants. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met twice Friday in Cairo with U.N. chief Ban

    July 25, 2014

  • Transcript shows concerns during Arizona execution FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake was attending a ceremony for a judicial colleague when he received an urgent — and unusual — request: Lawyers for a condemned inmate wanted him to stop an execution that didn't seem to be workin

    July 25, 2014

  • Sniper-Author-Ventura [Duplicate] Day 3 of deliberations ends in Ventura lawsuit Jury has deliberated 19 hours

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man accused of stealing from group HASTINGS (AP) — An Apple Valley man is charged with five counts of theft for allegedly stealing more than $113,000 from a Rosemount youth athletics group. Sixty-two-year-old Robert Steven Reischauer was the former finance manager of the Rosemount Ar

    July 24, 2014