Mississippi River Oil Spill Yields Class Action Lawsuit

The <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/read/14823">Mississippi River oil spill is now the subject of a lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.   The lawsuit, which seeks class acton status to benefit all New Orleans residents impacted by last Wednesday’s oil spill, is seeking compensation for any damages and losses caused by the Mississippi River oil spill.

The Mississippi River oil spill occurred when a 600-foot tanker and a barge loaded with fuel collided. The spill occurred about 1:30 a.m. central time Wednesday near the Crescent City Connection, a pair of New Orleans bridges. The barge split in half, spilling more than 419,000 gallons of tar-like oil into the river. The barge’s owner, American Commercial Lines, immediately took responsibility for the oil spill.

The  barge was being towed by the tugboat the Mel Oliver. Last week, the US Coast Guard determined that no one on the Mel Oliver had the proper licensing for piloting a tugboat. The operator on the Mel Oliver at the time of the collision had only an apprentice mate’s license, and no one else on the barge had a license. To legally pilot a tugboat, an operator is required to have a master’s license.

The Mississippi River oil spill class action lawsuit was filed by New Orleans residents Stephen Marshall Gabarick and Bernard Attridge.   The plaintiffs are being represented by Louisiana attorneys Camilo K. Salas III and Daniel E. Becnel Jr., as well as <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/">Parker Waichman Alonso, LLP a law firm headquartered in Great Neck, N.Y

The lawsuit claims that following the oil spill, prevailing winds exposed the plaintiffs and individuals they represent to toxic gases that were spread from the collision site to the French Quarter and Uptown neighborhoods of New Orleans.  The lawsuit also alleges that heavy oil has caused serious environmental damage to the river and threatened sensitive wetlands. They also note it forced closure of several communities’ water intakes to prevent contamination of drinking water supplies.

Because the oil spill has resulted in the closure of an 80-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, the plaintiffs allege that the incident has caused and will continue to cause loss of income to individuals and businesses that are being prevented from using the waterway.

Defendants named by the Mississippi River oil spill class action lawsuit include Laurin Maritime, the Houston firm that operates the Liberian-flagged tanker MV Tintomara; that ship’s owner, Gibraltar-based Whitefin Shipping Co. Limited; American Commercial Lines Inc., the Indiana company that owns the barge; DRD Towing, the Harvey company that owns the tug, the M/V Mel Oliver; and the New Orleans-Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association, one of whose members was in command of the Tintomara at the time of the collision.

Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), individuals and entities impacted by oil spills are entitled to compensation for property damage, loss of income and other damages from the parties responsible for the spill.

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