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Judges Recused Themselves From BP Oil Spill Lawsuits

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By Jason Beahm on June 04, 2010 12:45 PM

Half of the active federal judges in New Orleans have recused themselves from BP oil spill lawsuits, due to a conflict of interest. In addition, judges are recusing themselves in Alabama. The lawsuits, filed by business and property owners, seek billions of dollars in damages to compensate for the massive oil spill. 

The large number of recusals may result in the cases being combined and heard before a judge from outside the region, Bloomberg reports. Lawyers for the BP oil spill victims have requested that the cases be combined and heard by a judge in New Orleans. 

The judges have recused themselves for reasons including owning mutual funds and shares, to having friends or relatives at the companies involved.

In light of the sheer volume of cases, as well as the mass recusals, it seems that attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants agree that the federal cases need to be consolidated. However, the defense attorneys want the case heard outside of New Orleans. The plaintiffs want to make sure it stays in the region, where the effects of the spill are visible and powerful. 

BP has specifically requested Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston, Texas. BP's headquarters are located in Houston. Bloomberg obtained reports from Judicial Watch that indicated that Hughes lectured for oil industry groups that paid his travel expenses.

Hughes seems willing to take the case if it is offered to him, though he appeared unenthusiastic about it during a recent hearing in Houston, stating to a group of attorneys in his Houston courtroom, "I'm happy to do it ... But I'm certainly not going to love you for it."

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