Oil Spill Liability Bill Passes


Oil Spill Liability Bill Passes

Following the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and Transocean’s limit of liability lawsuit, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 5503, Securing Protections for the Injured from Limitations on Liability Act (SPILL Act). The SPILL Act will update the provisions of the following three bills dating from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s: Death on High Seas Act (1920), Jones Act (1920), and the Limitation on Liability Act (1851).

Specifically, HR 5503 would:

Amend the Death on the High Seas Act (dating from 1920) to permit recovery of non-pecuniary damages (e.g., pain and suffering and loss of care, comfort, and companionship) by the decedent’s family, as well as standardizing the geographic threshold for its application, and permitting surviving family members to bring suit directly rather than through a personal representative.

Amend the Jones Act (dating from 1920) to permit recovery of non-pecuniary damages by the families of seamen who are killed.

Repeal the outmoded Limitation on Liability Act (dating from 1851) which limits the liability of vessel owners to the value of the vessel and its cargo.

Clarify the class action rules so that impacted States can seek effective legal remedies in their own courts.

Render unenforceable restrictions on disclosing information about offshore spills of oil and other pollutants.

Strengthen bankruptcy rules to prevent corporations responsible for widespread damages under the Oil Pollution Act from seeking to sever their assets from the legal liabilities they owe to innocent victims.

Apply these changes to pending and future legal claims.

This legislation allows a spouse, child and/or parent to potentially recover “non-pecuniary” damages in maritime death cases. Currently, the law only permits pecuniary damages and pre-death pain and suffering, if any, as legal elements of recovery. This change is necessary to bring these types of claims in line with modern day recognition of injuries associated with the loss of a close family member.

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Best Lawyers in America


Best Lawyers

Attorney Richard J. Arsenault, of Neblett, Beard, and Arsenault in Alexandria, Louisiana was recently named to the Best Lawyers in America.

Best Lawyers in America is a highly regarded publication listing exceptional attorneys throughout the country. The distinction is based upon a peer-review system with input from over three million attorneys. The American Lawyer has described the Best Lawyers publication as “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” List exerts are posted in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and New York Magazine. Best Lawyers in America also recently joined with U.S. News & World Report by adding a Best Lawyers Search Engine on the U.S. News website.

Arsenault’s legal career spans more than thirty years, and he has frequently been recognized for his contributions as both a litigator and published author. In addition, Arsenault serves as an instructor with Louisiana State University Law School’s Trial Advocacy Program.

Arsenault has been selected for inclusion in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, American Trial Lawyer’s Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Louisiana Super Lawyers, Best of the United States and currently holds an AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating available. His legal expertise has been featured by the National Law Journal, Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CBS, Business Week, NPR and BBC.

Neblett, Beard, and Arsenault would like to extend congratulations to Mr. Arsenault for this outstanding honor.

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Infant Deaths Prompts Warning on Baby Sleep Positioners


Infant Deaths Prompts Warning on Baby Sleep Positioners

Despite claims by manufacturers that baby sleep positioners can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), gastrointestinal distress, flat head syndrome and colic, the FDA and CPSC have received 12 reports of infants between the ages of 1 month and 4 four months who died when they suffocated in sleep positioners or became trapped and suffocated between a sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet. Now, the FDA and CPSC are urging parents and caregivers to immediately discontinue use of these products, saying the risk of suffocation outweighs any benefits.

Most of the infants suffocated after rolling from a side to stomach position. In addition to the reported deaths, CPSC has received dozens of reports of infants who were placed on their backs or sides in sleep positioners, only to be found later in potentially hazardous positions within or next to the sleep positioners. The two main types of infant sleep positioners are flat mats with side bolsters or inclined (wedge) mats with side bolsters.

The CPSC has posted this warning on its website:

* STOP using sleep positioners. Using a positioner to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep is dangerous and unnecessary.

* NEVER put pillows, infant sleep positioners, comforters, or quilts under a baby or in a crib.

* ALWAYS place an infant on his or her back at night and during nap time. To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing infants to sleep on their backs and not their sides.

The lawyers are Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are currently investigating claims against manufacturers of faulty or defective childrens’ products. We have worked hard for families whose infants and children have been injured or killed as a result of defective products, and are closely following this recent warning from the FDA & CPSC. We will updated this information as it becomes available. Stay tuned.

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