Throughout 2004–2007 a housing boom along with a series of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico combined to create a shortage of drywall in the United States.  Needing drywall to build the homes that were much in demand, suppliers turned abroad. Chinese manufacturers stepped in, providing cheap and readily available material.  This influx of Chinese drywall was concentrated in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi; the states most affected by Hurricanes Wilma, Katrina, and Rita.  Since 2006, it has been estimated by some sources that more than 550 million pounds of drywall have been imported from China.  There are reports that some 100,000 homes could possibly be affected nationwide. Continue Reading What does the Transfer of Chinese Drywall Cases by the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation Mean?

The Louisiana Legislature has adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 185, authored by Representative Tim Burns.  The resolution urges and requests that the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Deptartment of Insurance, in consultation with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, investigate the health risks associated with living in homes that contain drywall imported

Any industry manufacturing or even using products with even trace levels of benzene should be aware of the growing trend among trial attorneys to bring benzene exposure claims. It may be nearing the time for companies to undertake aggressive efforts to reduce or eliminate potential exposure to these types of claims
Several recent blogosphere entries

During a presentation at the Defense Research Institute’s Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Seminar in New Orleans on Friday March 9, 2007, Dr. Pamela Williams of ChemRisk, Inc. indicated that she was preparing to publish a study on the potential for exposure to benzene from products containing trace (less than 0.1%) levels of benzene. Her study will likely conclude that measured airborne concentrations of benzene during the handling or use of petroleum-derived products in the United States have typically not exceeded workplace standards since at least the early 1980’s. The Williams’ study will also likely conclude that indoor air modeling shows that workplace exposures are likely to be minimal during the application of products containing trace levels of benzene. Finally, the Williams study will likely conclude that petroleum-derived products containing trace levels of benzene are not expected to produce 8-hour TWA airborne concentrations that exceed current regulatory standards under typical product use scenarios.
Continue Reading New Trace Benzene Study To Be Published

Kean Miller is pleased to announce that 12 lawyers, formerly in the Admiralty & Maritime, Construction, and Energy practice areas with Lemle & Kelleher, LLP, have joined the firm in the New Orleans office.

“We are very excited to welcome these distinguished attorneys to our law firm. They are an outstanding resource for our clients. Our offices are located in Louisiana’s major port cities — New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles — and this esteemed group brings over 150 years of combined experience in maritime issues, admiralty law, marine insurance, oil & gas, drilling and exploration, pipelines, construction, and energy law to our clients.” said Gary A. Bezet, managing partner of the 121-lawyer firm.
Continue Reading Kean Miller Adds 12 Attorneys in Admiralty & Maritime, Construction, and Energy Practice Groups – New Orleans Office Triples in Size

Reproduced with permission from Toxics Law Reporter, Vol. 20, No. 47, pp. 1067-1069 (Dec 8, 2005). Copyright 2005 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033). In the wake of two hurricanes, many Louisiana industries, businesses, and citizens are left with a monumental task of cleaning up the damages caused by the storms. Many Louisianians also face the somewhat unknown future of what potential liability lies ahead under various environmental statutes and programs. After the storms, the State of Louisiana and the federal government temporarily eased many requirements under various environmental regulatory programs so that immediate actions could be taken to preserve property and protect lives. Significant questions remain, however, as to how these agencies are going to use their enforcement discretion in the future with respect to events that occurred during and after the storms.
Continue Reading The “Act of God” Defense Under Select Environmental Programs Applicable in Louisiana

Reproduced with permission from Class Action Action Litigation Report, Vol. 6, No. 21, pp. 795-797 (Nov 11, 2005). Copyright 2005 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033). The damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama constitute the largest natural disaster in U.S. history. Hurricane Katrina’s impact on insurers and their policyholders have already set in motion what will probably be one of the largest legal and public policy storms to hit the United States in modern times. Nowhere will the storm be more evident than in disputes involving wind and water damage coverage. The eye of the coverage storm is already manifesting itself in coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Continue Reading Wind Versus Flood Coverage and Hurricane Katrina

Reproduced with permission from Class Action Action Litigation Report, Vol. 6, No. 21, pp. 793-795 (Nov 11, 2005). Copyright 2005 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033). Katrina has already spawned a hurricane of lawsuits. These suits include: suits by individuals who claim they were injured by hazardous substances that leaked from storage facilities, refineries, or pipeline facilities; suits by individuals who claim that oilfield production and pipeline activities caused wetland damage that exacerbated the effects of hurricane Katrina; and suits by individuals who claim faulty levees caused the widespread flooding that followed in the days after Katrina made landfall. All of these suits have a common thread: each will require the courts to determine whether the damages sued upon resulted from nature’s fury or human blunder. Louisiana, like many other states, recognizes the general principle that an “act of God” can be a complete defense to liability for negligence and strict liability claims. Louisiana courts have generally used a consistent definition of the term “act of God,” but the application of that definition in the context of a specific event has not always been consistent or clear, particularly when the issue of contributing human fault is at play.
Continue Reading Nature’s Fury or Human Blunder? The ‘Act of God Defense’ in Louisiana

The past twenty years has seen a dramatic increase in the volume of mass tort and other forms of complex litigation. As the volume of litigation has grown, so too have the burdens on the judiciary and the litigants. To address this growing problem, it is imperative that modern adjudicatory tools be adopted to achieve the goal of securing the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action. One such case management tool that has developed in the context of mass tort litigation – but that can be equally effective in other types of litigation – is the Lone Pine Order.
Continue Reading The Lone Pine Order As a Case Management Tool for Complex Litigation

As a service to the community and its clients, Kean Miller will present a Post-Katrina Energy Industry Forum on Thursday, October 13th. In addition, the firm will host its Louisiana Environmental Forum on Friday, October 14th. These two important industry events are part of a week-long breakfast briefing series designed to provide innovation, insight and