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What does Gulf oil spill have in common with Katrina? Attorneys

GULFPORT, Miss. — The sense of "we've been here before" that has Mississippi Gulf Coast residents comparing the approaching Gulf oil slick to the onslaught from Hurricane Katrina five years ago was complete Friday when attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court against multiple defendants for "gross negligence."

Some of the same attorneys led the post-Katrina fight against insurance companies that tried to argue that their policies did not cover wind damage when tidal surge, covered by federal flood insurance, contributed to the loss.

Clyde H. “Buddy” Gunn III and Judy Guice, both of Biloxi, won a landmark Mississippi Supreme Court ruling more than four years after Katrina. The ruling established that insurance companies had to prove that floodwaters caused the loss before they could exclude a claim.

Friday's lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against corporations involved in the operation of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded, then sank: Transocean Ltd., the owner of the rig; BP, the oil company that had leased the rig; Halliburton Energy Services, which was involved in the drilling, and Cameron International Corp., which manufactured the device that was supposed to prevent accidents of this sort.

They lawyers are asking a U.S. District Court judge to award compensation for expected losses, extra damages to punish the companies for wrongdoing and other relief. Although the lawsuit lists individual plaintiffs, it seeks class-action status to address claims for plaintiffs in all categories outlined.

In addition to Gunn and Guice, eight other attorneys sought to be appointed class counsel. All have been involved in Katrina-related litigation previously.

(Lee reports for the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.)

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