747 F.Supp.2d 704 (E.D.La. 2010), MDL 2179, In re Oil Spill by Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010

Docket Nº:MDL 2179.
Citation:747 F.Supp.2d 704
Opinion Judge:CARL J. BARBIER, District Judge.
Party Name:In re: OIL SPILL BY the OIL RIG
Attorney:Joseph Lee Waitz, Jr., District Attorney, Terrebonne Parish, C. Berwick Duval, II, Stanwood R. Duval, Duval, Funderburk, Sundbery, Lovell, & Watkins, APLC, Houma, LA, Calvin Clifford Fayard, Jr., Fayard & Honeycutt, Denham Springs, LA, Donald T. Carmouche, John Hogarth Carmouche, Victor Lynn Marc...
Case Date:October 06, 2010
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Eastern District of Louisiana
 
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747 F.Supp.2d 704 (E.D.La. 2010)

In re: OIL SPILL BY the OIL RIG " DEEPWATER HORIZON" IN the GULF OF MEXICO, ON APRIL 20, 2010.

This Document Relates to 10-1759.

MDL No. 2179.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana.

October 6, 2010

Page 705

Joseph Lee Waitz, Jr., District Attorney, Terrebonne Parish, C. Berwick Duval, II, Stanwood R. Duval, Duval, Funderburk, Sundbery, Lovell, & Watkins, APLC, Houma, LA, Calvin Clifford Fayard, Jr., Fayard & Honeycutt, Denham Springs, LA, Donald T. Carmouche, John Hogarth Carmouche, Victor Lynn Marcello, Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello, Baton Rouge, LA, Tommy Wood Thornhill, Thornhill Law Firm, Slidell, LA, for Plaintiff.

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Paul Matthew Jones, April Leigh Rolen-Ogden, Stuart Theron Welch, Liskow & Lewis, Lafayette, LA, Greg L. Johnson, Robert E. Holden, Sherman Gene Fendler, Stephen W. Wiegand, Liskow & Lewis, New Orleans, LA, for Defendants.

ORDER

CARL J. BARBIER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff State of Louisiana's Motion to Remand, In re: Deepwater Horizon, 10-CV-1156 (Rec. Doc. 304) and Defendant BP's Memorandum in Opposition, In re: Deepwater Horizon, 10-CV-1156 (Rec. Doc. 401).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND BACKGROUND FACTS

On May 17, 2010, the State of Louisiana filed suit against BP Exploration & Production Inc., BP PLC, BP Products North America, Inc., and BP America, Inc. (collectively " Defendants" ) in the 32nd Judicial District Court for the Parish of Terrebonne, State of Louisiana. In its complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants have killed, caught, taken, possessed or injured fish, wild birds, wild quadruped, and other wildlife and aquatic life in violation of Louisiana State Law. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants owned and operated a Minerals Management Services Mineral Lease in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Plaintiff, Defendants failed to comply with applicable statutes and regulations governing the exploration and production of minerals or with the regulations governing the removal and remediation of the discharged contaminants. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' failure to comply with applicable statutes resulted in an April 20, 2010 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a mobile offshore drilling rig, and the release of oil, other minerals, and contaminants into the Gulf of Mexico. Plaintiff further alleged that the oil spill was not timely contained and therefore, oil and other contaminants entered into the waters of the State of Louisiana— inflicting death and injury to Louisiana aquatic life and wildlife.

In its complaint, the State only asserted a cause of action under La.Rev.Stat. Ann. § 56:40.1 et seq. and specifically stated, " [n]otwithstanding any language in this petition to the contrary, plaintiff does not plead, and will never at any time in the future plead, any claim or cause of action arising under any federal law, and asserts no such claims or cause of action herein." 10-CV-1759 (Rec. Doc. 1-2, pg. 4, ¶ 16). Nevertheless, on June 17, 2010, Defendants removed this matter to the Eastern District of Louisiana, claiming that this court has original subject matter jurisdiction over the litigation pursuant to 43 U.S. C. § 1349(b)(1). Defendants also claim that this court has original subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S. C. § 1331 because Plaintiff's claims arise under federal statutes, namely, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S. C. § 1331 et seq.

Plaintiff has filed the current motion to remand, alleging that this matter was improperly removed. After reviewing the motion and the applicable law, this court finds as follows:

THE PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

Plaintiff argues that it did not allege any federal claims in its complaint and therefore, according to the well-pleaded complaint rule, removal is improper. Plaintiff also argues that no federal statute provides this court with jurisdiction in this matter. Further, Plaintiff argues that even if this court has jurisdiction, the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents removal. Alternatively,

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Plaintiff claims that this case involves general maritime law claims, and therefore, removal is not proper because the claims do not arise under the laws of the United States. Finally, Plaintiff argues that this court should sanction Defendants for improperly removing this matter to federal court.

Defendants argue that § 1349 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (" OCSLA" ) clearly supports this Court's original subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants further argue that Plaintiff's claims regarding the well-pleaded complaint rule, Eleventh Amendment immunity, and admiralty jurisdiction are frivolous. Therefore, Defendants urge this court to deny Plaintiff's motion to remand and Plaintiff's request for sanctions.

DISCUSSION

Generally, a defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court if a federal court would have original jurisdiction over the action. See 28 U.S. C. § 1441. Once a motion to remand has been filed, the burden is...

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