McDonell, Colin
March 2012
Stanford Law Review;Mar2012, Vol. 64 Issue 3, p765
Academic Journal
This Comment analyzes the efforts of plaintiffs' lawyers and state attorneys general to regulate the administration of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility through the court system. Victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have the option of seeking compensation from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, a compensation scheme funded by BP, or joining one of the class action lawsuits against BP that have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Plaintiffs' Steering Committee and several Gulf States' Attorneys General have requested that the judge overseeing the litigation intervene in the administration of the claims facility, namely by invalidating or modifying releases of liability, monitoring communications between the facility and potential claimants, and even taking control of the compensation process itself. These efforts have met resistance not only from defendants but also from other plaintiffs' lawyers, raising the question as to what jurisdiction courts have to intervene in a private compensation scheme at the request of litigants seeking compensation through the courts. The primary contribution of this Comment is demonstrating how inadequate causes of action, Article III standing requirements, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)'s adequacy requirement for class certification will in some cases deprive the court of jurisdiction to consider the requests. The Comment proposes a methodology by which courts should resolve requests for regulation that present standing and adequacy issues: dismiss any requests for regulation that create substantial disagreement among class members on the grounds that an adequate representative of the class could not have standing with respect to that issue, because the dismissal will preserve the ability of the class to gain certification and bring other claims.


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