By Drew Spaniol
The Eastern District of Louisiana recently held that the Oil Pollution Liability and Compensation Act (OPA), 33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., does not preclude a plaintiff from bringing state law claims for additional liability or compensation. Isla Corp. v. Sundown Energy, LP, 2007 WL 1240212 (E.D. La.
4/27/07). The case concerned oil tanks on a drill site owned and operated by Sundown, which were ruptured in Hurricane Katrina. The plaintiffs asserted claims under both OPA and state law. Seeking to avoid the additional liability of the state law claims, Sundown argued in a motion to dismiss that OPA provided plaintiffs’ exclusive remedy. The court held, however, that while OPA provides the sole federal remedy for oil pollution claims, OPA expressly allows states to provide for "any additional liability or requirements with respect to the discharge of oil or other pollution by oil within such state." Because of this provision, the court denied Sundown’s motion to dismiss and allowed plaintiff’s state law claims to go forward.