On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit was working a BP well near the coast of Louisiana when it suffered a blow-out of mud, seawater, and methane gas. The gas quickly exploded into a fireball so huge, it was visible from 40 miles away. It killed 11 rig workers, destroyed the rig, and led to the biggest oil spill in US history. For 89 days, the well on the seabed gushed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, until it was finally capped on July 15.
The litigation that resulted from this disaster was of unprecedented scale and complexity. Jones Swanson was involved early on, working on behalf of a variety of affected parties ranging from fishermen and large businesses to conservationists seeking to rescue sea turtles caught in the spill.
In May 2010, Jones Swanson worked with several other law firms to protect the rights of fishermen, by obtaining a temporary restraining order preventing BP from requiring those fishermen to release their claims against the oil company before assisting in emergency clean-up efforts.
In May through September 2010, Jones Swanson was part of an attorney group that sought court supervision over the BP-administered claims programs. Those legal actions eventually led to the court’s appointment of a Special Master.
In June 2010, Jones Swanson again worked with other firms to file a motion to obtain an injunction to prevent BP from dispersing its assets, and to compel the company to set aside $20 billion in an escrow fund for victims of the oil spill. BP created the fund after the motion was filed, and before it was even heard in court.
Jones Swanson also served as local counsel for environmental groups that sought and achieved a consent decree protecting endangered sea turtles during controlled oil-burn activities in June and July 2010.
In these efforts, Jones Swanson teamed up with the law firms of Sher, Garner, Cahill, Richter, Klein & Hilbert and Fishman, Haygood, Phelps, Walmsley, Willis & Swanson.