Friday, July 30, 2010

"Miami also has a great NBA basketball team, right?"

That was the chief of the multidistrict panel, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II of Kentucky, after Ervin Gonzalez was pushing for the oil litigation to be here in Miami.  From Curt Anderson's report:

More than 100 lawyers crowded into a sixth-floor courtroom in Boise's downtown courtroom, jockeying amongst themselves for the limited speaking slots in a hearing that lasted about 1 1/2 hours. Although some 2,000 miles from the Gulf, Boise was the scheduled stop for the roving seven-judge panel.

Most lawyers only got to talk for a few minutes, and there were a few moments of levity.

After Miami attorney Ervin Gonzalez extolled the virtues of South Florida and its chief federal judge, Federico Moreno, Heyburn cracked that Miami also has "a great NBA basketball team, right?" -- a reference to the Miami Heat's recent signings of stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Assuming the cases are centralized as expected, the judge or judges chosen to hear them will have to decide key issues such as whether they are dismissed or allowed to continue, and whether to certify one or more class actions for people and businesses in similar situations. If the cases are not dismissed and unless there is an early settlement, a handful are usually chosen to go to trial first as "bellwhethers" that can determine the ultimate outcome of all lawsuits.

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