October 26, 2009
Class action filed involving Puerto Rico explosion
On Friday morning, a huge explosion occurred at a Caribbean Petroleum Corp. fuel storage facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico. On Friday afternoon, the first class action was filed. Here's the WSJ Law Blog report with a brief interview in which Louisiana plaintiffs' lawyer Daniel Becnel explains how he became involved so quickly and what immediate steps he took:
I got a call this morning from [Puerto Rico lawyer] John Nevares, who said he knew I’d handled these kinds of cases and that he had clients. What I immediately did was started to put together the complaint. I hired a mechanical engineer, a metallurgist, a psychiatrist, and an expert in air modeling. We also got up a Web site, so cases have been coming in on the Internet.
Responding to The Law Blog's question about the importance of filing first, Becnel focuses on getting the lawsuit started before the defendant has too much time to take control:
It’s not necessarily important to be the first, but it’s important to get in the door quickly. One of the main reasons is to get a preservation order in place to make sure that nobody destroys physical evidence. You need to get in there fast to find out what really happened. When something like this happens — and I’ve worked on a handful of them — the first thing a company does is call its insurance claims agent. They’re on the scene within an hour. They’ll try to show that nobody’s hurt and that the damage is minimal. They’ll put out a press release. You’ve got to get in there so you can start working the other side as soon as possible.
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