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Halliburton seeks extension to prepare defense for Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims

Halliburton Energy Services [official website] and several other companies being sued in connection with April's Deepwater Horizon oil spill [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in the Gulf of Mexico filed a request on Friday seeking more time to prepare their defense, the AP reports. The motion, filed [AP report] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website], seeks to postpone the trial until 2012 citing a need resolve limitation and liability allocation issues. US District Judge Carl Barbier [Federal Judicial Center profile] has not yet issued a decision on the request. In August, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation [official website] selected [order, PDF] Barbier to hear [JURIST report] more than 300 lawsuits filed against British Petroleum (BP) [corporate website] and other defendants in connection with the Deepwater Horizon accident.

Halliburton and other companies involved in the oil are also being sued [JURIST report] in Montgomery, Alabama by Alabama Attorney General Troy King [official profile]. In August, BP and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced the completion of negotiations over the implementation of a $20 billion fund [JURIST reports] to aid victims of the oil spill. Numerous lawsuits are pending against BP in connection with the spill. In July, a class-action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] was filed against the company in a Louisiana state court alleging that its negligent actions led to the spill and that BP was further negligent in its oversight of the cleanup effort, resulting in volunteers falling ill due to inadequate protective equipment. In June, two lawsuits were filed against BP [JURIST report] alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) [18 USC § 1961 et seq.] statute. The lawsuits allege that BP purposefully defrauded the American public in order to increase company profits. Also in June, Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced that the DOJ is reviewing whether any civil or criminal laws were violated [JURIST report] by BP resulting in the oil spill. Holder cited several statutes being examined by government lawyers, including the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 [materials].

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