Emergency and Incident Response
Kean Miller represents Louisiana energy, petrochemical, and manufacturing concerns with regard to accidents, emergencies and crisis situations, including criminal investigations. We represent clients in connection with offshore and onshore accidents, at chemical plants and refineries, on drilling rigs, oil production platforms, barges, tug boats, as well as vehicular accidents involving the release of oil, chemicals, and other products.
Our 40-year history with Louisiana's energy and petrochemical industry provides us with the knowledge and substantive skill to address practically any industrial or business accident. Our Emergency Response and Crisis Management teams are equipped to handle environmental reporting, interfacing with state and federal authorities, protecting and preserving evidence, producing documents and reports, interviewing witnesses, securing the services of experts and consultants, advising corporate officers, assisting with incident investigation and working with the media to protect our clients' interests and the public. A number of our attorneys practicing in this area have Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC). Our emergency response teams also provide the legal services our clients need to begin the process of recovery, including contract review, insurance evaluation and coverage claims, and legal work and claims evaluation in preparation for personal injury, mass tort, and class action lawsuits. The Kean Miller emergency response teams assists our clients before an accident occurs, when an accident occurs, and through the resolution of agency investigations, recovery claims, and casualty litigation.
In addition, we regularly conduct pre-incident response training for plant personnel and executives, develop action plans for emergencies, and conduct incident investigation workshops for plant management.
- Served as trial counsel in defending high-profile, multiple-plaintiff lawsuits arising out of a 2013 explosion and fire at a major Louisiana chemical manufacturing facility. The Kean Miller emergency response and trial teams assisted our client in official notifications, evidence preservation, incident investigation, interaction with multiple state and federal regulatory authorities, litigation management, and complex mass joinder and personal injury trial defense in multiple venues, including taking several cases to verdict.
- Representation of a global energy and chemical refinery in incidents arising from three explosions and fires at their Louisiana refineries. In each incident, the Kean Miller team assisted in every aspect of the situation, which included sending required notifications, interfacing with state and federal authorities on-site, evidence preservation, securing experts for immediate post-incident evaluation, collecting witness statements, and in the subsequent litigation. In two of the incidents, a Kean Miller team was on-site within two hours and in that short period of time had engaged outside air modeling consultants and health consultants to secure background information for the ensuing litigation. As a result of our efforts, we preserved the record of constituents of the air plume, and evidence of cause and origin. This action limited the potential class area significantly.
- Representation of a Lake Charles chemical plant in a 20,000+ claimant class action as a result of a significant release of SO2. The Kean Miller team was on-site when state and federal authorities demanded entry into the Lake Charles facility. We assisted the investigating team, assembled outside consultants and experts, and handled the resulting litigation. As a result of our efforts, we achieved a relatively fast resolution of class action litigation on a favorable basis to the client.
- Representation of a chemical manufacturer with regard to two chemical releases from their Geismar, Louisiana facility. Within hours of the release being contained, the Kean Miller team was on-site with the client’s risk management profesionals. The Kean Miller team participated in the investigation of the releases, including conducting interviews of witnesses, identifying and gathering relevant documents, reviewing reports, providing advice on responding to media inquiries, and assisting in dealing with claimants. As a result of our early intervention in the investigation, our client avoided pitfalls related to not identifying and maintaining documents. The documents, from a technical standpoint, were not relevant to the root cause analysis. However, the documents would have become relevant during litigation. In addition, we were able to identify issues with the wording of the investigative reports that would have negatively impacted subsequent litigation. Finally, we were able to identify and resolve some claims before the intervention of other counsel.
- Representation of a global fertilizer producer with regard to a surprise investigation by the EPA NEIC, and the FBI. The investigation commenced with a search warrant covering all activities of the facility in relation to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Ten plant managers and employees were targeted in the investigation. Over ninety-two federal agents participated in a two and a half-day on-site investigation with multiple weeks of follow-up. The Kean Miller team was on-site within one hour of notification, counseled on-site personnel and interfaced with the U.S. Attorney and lead investigators. We provided counsel to on-site personnel regarding their rights and obligations, preserved evidence, assisted in securing legal counsel for targeted managers and employees, assisted in securing experts for immediate post-incident evaluation, collected witness statements, and represented the company in the subsequent litigation. As a result of our actions,we assisted in maintaining a calm and thoughtful response in a crisis situation, advised corporate officers on immediate follow-up operations needed, used local contacts to assist in dealing with public statements and suppliers and customers, and provided thorough follow-up audits with consultants to lay the foundation for defense and plea agreements as well as significant narrowing of targets and issues.
- Representation of a major Louisiana oil facility in an OSHA investigation stemming from OSHA's National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Petroleum Refineries. The Kean Miller team assisted the investigating team, assembled outside consultants and experts, and handled the resulting negotiations with OSHA. As a result of our efforts, we obtained a quick resolution of OSHA citation on a basis that was favorable to the company.
- Representation of various energy companies in well blowouts, oil spills, and claims arising from significant catastrophes, which involve contract disputes, personal injury and death claims, environmental issues, and large property damage claims.
- Representation of a global offshore engineering company in complex contract and personal injury litigation related to its operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Representation of a pipeline company against an oil and gas company for the destruction of an offshore oil and gas platform as well as eight deaths and multiple personal injuries.
- Representation of various drilling companies and oil companies in lawsuits filed by offshore workers based on the Jones Act, General Maritime Law, Louisiana and Texas state law, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
- Representation of an energy company’s insurer in litigation and governmental proceedings resulting from destruction of a platform that was struck by a vessel, including issues surrounding a $25,000,000 oil spill clean-up.
- Representation of numerous marine and energy companies involving significant catastrophes resulting from a rupture of pipelines and subsequent explosions.
- Representation of clients in numerous Oil Pollution Act and related state agency matters.