In connection with recent British Petroleum disaster, Thornhill Law Firm has submitted the following information for consideration by the Court for leadership positions:
1. Thornhill Class Action Experience begins in 1992 and includes mass and toxic tort classes:
Thornhill is the managing partner of the Thornhill Law Firm located in Slidell, Louisiana and Thornhill, Shrader and Burdette, located in Houston, Texas, whose career spans more than 32 years as a trial lawyer.
Thornhill has an extensive track record of successful litigation throughout the United States and, particularly, in the country’s federal and state court systems, including Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Among the class action cases in which Thornhill has been involved, Thornhill class action settlements over the years include:
A. James Cason, et. al. v. Sears Roebuck 1916 Profit Sharing Plan, USDC – Northern Division of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 92-C-8253. In 1992, Thornhill served as lead counsel in class action claims for over 350,000 members of the Sears Roebuck 1916 Employee Profit Sharing Plan. The settlement realized injunctive relief, a change of plan liabilities, and removed an illegal encumbrance of Sears Roebuck stock. The settlement included a multi-million dollar financial benefit to the Employee Profit Sharing Plan.
B. Hilda Austin, et. al. In Re: New Orleans Train Car Leakage Fire Litigation, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, No. 2001-5104, Div. D. Thornhill represented intervening firemen omitted from the class, achieving confidential settlement in the class action.
C. Adams, et.al. v. Environmental Purification Advancement Corporation, et. al., USDC – Western Division of Louisiana, Lafayette Division, No. 99-1998. Thornhill was assigned non-lead defense representation for one client; the client’s obligations were settled as part of the class.
2. Criteria for and Duties of Counsel in Oil Spill Litigation The Manual for Complex Litigation (4th), Section 10.221, sets out duties of counsel, which together with Pre-Trial Order #1 provides the “main criteria for [the appointment of lead counsel are]: “(1) a willingness and availability to commit to a time-consuming project; (2) ability to work cooperatively with others; and (3) professional experience in this type of litigation.”
As shown in section three below, Thornhill has significantly invested in the pending claims for: 1) the State of Louisiana civil penalties resulting from the injuries to Louisiana birds, fish, wildlife and animals, with significant sums spent on sampling by wildlife and environmental experts; 2) Louisiana and Mississippi individual fishermen personally and economically injured; and, 3) Louisiana and Mississippi businesses economically injured. These cases have already required considerable commitment of hundreds of hours by Thornhill Law Firm and many tens of thousands of dollars for expert work, obtaining records, testimony, developing information regarding the blowout, spill, control methods, dispersants, personal injuries, economic injuries, support staff, etc. for the benefit of these cases and the MDL.
Based on the Court’s Initial Conference Order and the criteria set forth in the Manual for Complex Litigation, Thornhill is well qualified to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
3. Role in the Oil Spill Litigation and Coordination with Other Firms:
Thornhill’s unique experience in blow out cases and petroleum engineering has been relied upon to represent the MDL plaintiffs in the recently held hearing of the Marine Board of Investigation and in the Motion for Protective Order, which included providing consulting expert analysis and Thornhill’s input on the protocols for testing and preservation of evidence from the BOP and related equipment.
Thornhill has pending cases in which he is counsel of record for the State of Louisiana, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, through District Attorneys for St. Tammany, Iberia and St. Mary seeking civil penalties in connection with which there are current MDL proceedings before this Honorable Court, including cases in the USDC – EDLA (10-CV-1760 and 10-CV-1759) and USDC-WDLA (10-CV-0991 and 10-CV-0992). Additionally, personal injury and economic loss claims are pending in the MDL originating in Louisiana [USDC – EDLA (Robin et al v. BP et al, 10 CV 1314)] and Mississippi [USDC – SDMI (Sevel, et al v. BP et al, 10 CV 179)].
4. Leadership and Cooperation Thornhill shows unique ability to lead and coordinate the broad scope of the pending actions crossing multiple state boundaries and involving governmental claims, together with individual and business claims resulting from service in the Louisiana House of Representatives and as a past President of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers (now Louisiana Association for Justice). Thornhill enjoys good working relationships with the leaders and attorneys engaged in representing the State of Louisiana, as well as individuals, businesses and lawyers engaged in claims across the Gulf South. Thornhill is willing and able to provide the representation and resources required to actively engage in the prosecution of claims in the MDL as a member of Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.