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Settlement noted in oil field case

Attorneys in a lawsuit over alleged oil field contamination westof the Brookhaven have recommended settlement of the case that hasinvolved approximately 1,000 plaintiffs and six years oflitigation.

A trial involving 10 of the plaintiffs’ cases, results of whichwould have been used to resolve similar claims related toBrookhaven Oil Field exploration and drilling activities, had beenscheduled for this month. However, attorneys for the plaintiffs andChevron Texaco were able to reach a settlement before the trial wasto start, according to a joint press statement releasedTuesday.

The amount of the settlement was not released Tuesday.

Bobby Meadows, lead attorney for Chevron, said the settlement iscontingent on a “large majority” of the plaintiffs accepting theagreement. He said the plaintiffs’ attorneys are talking to theirclients, and they have 90 days to agree.

“We’re helping them. We’re working together,” Meadows said. “Wewant them to be able to accomplish it.”

Jeff Thompson and Tom Billick, attorneys for the plaintiffs,were unavailable for comment late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Last November, a Lincoln County jury awarded $88,500 to fourfamilies in the first case to go to trial. The amount was forproperty damage during oil exploration and drilling, and the jurydid not award any money for emotional distress or mentalanguish.

Lawyers Tuesday indicated that case factored into the settlementdecision.

“Based on the verdict in that case and important pre-trialrulings made by Judge (Keith) Starrett for the upcoming trial, thelawyers for the parties determined that it would not be necessaryto conduct the August trial to fairly resolve and settle the claimsof the remaining plaintiffs and bring a close to litigation thathas persisted for over six years,” the statement said.

The settlement calls for plaintiffs to be paid different amountsdepending on the amount of property owned, existence of oil and gasoperations on property and other related factors.

Chevron’s ongoing remediation work in the Brookhaven Oil Fieldwill continue, the press statement said.