The case of Billy Swift, et al. v. General Electric Company, et al., No. 2008-11627, was filed by the plaintiffs in the Civil District Court, Orleans Parish in 2008. Plaintiffs in this case allege personal injury and/or wrongful death against some 98 oil company and related defendants for alleged exposure to NORM and TENORM at undisclosed time periods. The case includes the claims of at least 68 plaintiffs or their representatives. Many of the defendants, including Hydril Company and Hydril, LLC (collectively “Hydril”) answered the lawsuit by filing numerous exceptions, including the exception of forum non conveniens.
The district court ordered the defendants to respond to discovery requests on the forum non conveniens issue. Hydril objected, claiming that it would be required to respond to broad-reaching discovery requests, which would include, for example, Hydril having to identify each contract it had made with any company doing business in the petroleum or oil field industry in Louisiana over the last 47 years. Despite these objections, the district court granted the plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel against Hydril, ordering Hydril to respond to the discovery requests.
Hydril filed an Application for Supervisory Writs on the discovery issue, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by ordering the defendants and Hydril to respond to plaintiff-propounded discovery for a period covering 47 years. On May 9, 2013, the Fourth Circuit issued its ruling, granting Hydril’s Supervisory Writ, vacating the Judgment of the district court, and remanding the issue for further hearing on the forum non conveniens issue. The Fourth Circuit found that the plaintiffs’ discovery requests were a “fishing expedition,” and were “overbroad, immaterial, unreasonable, unduly burdensome, and expensive.” Order, Billy Swift, et al. v. Hydril Company, et al., No. 2013-C-0631 (La. App. 4 Cir. 5/9/13). The Fourth Circuit ordered the district court to make a determination on the forum non conveniens issue based on “reasonable and restricted discovery.” Following the remand, the district court narrowed the scope of discovery to 20 years, for the period of 1971 through 1991.
The district court has not issued a substantive ruling on the forum non conveniens issue and the various exceptions of the defendants. For questions and further updates, contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500