November 2013

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With the bankruptcy of dozens of traditional defendants in asbestos litigation, plaintiffs’ attorneys have been creative in pursuing claims in previously untapped areas. One such area is alleged oilfield worker exposure via asbestos-containing drilling mud additives. These were specialty products used to raise viscosity in a well (bentonite or “gel” was by far the most common viscosity producer used by the drilling industry). Asbestos-containing drilling mud additives were first introduced to the market in the mid-1960’s and production ceased in the mid-1980’s. While mass screenings by plaintiffs’ lawyers have largely ceased in others areas of asbestos litigation, they are alive and well in the context of drilling mud litigation. (more…)

Mississippi’s Statewide Rule 13, addressing blowout preventers, currently states that, “[i]n drilling areas where high pressures are likely to exist and on all wildcat wells, all proper and necessary precautions shall be taken for keeping the well under control, including the use of blowout preventers and high pressure fittings attached to properly anchored and cemented casing strings.”  This Rule, however, is likely getting a major overhaul aimed at enhancing the safety of the general public and oilfield workers. (more…)