by Sam Eifling
More than 50 plaintiffs whose suit against ExxonMobil had been removed to federal court will get to present their case to a Faulkner County jury. Today, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller remanded Finton et al v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. back to the home county where Exxon's Pegasus pipeline broke open on March 29.
The remanding marks the second district court setback for Exxon in two weeks. On Sept. 13, Judge Billy Roy Wilson sent another class action suit, Duncan et al v ExxonMobil Corporation, which included a relatively modest five plaintiffs, to Faulkner County Circuit Court.
Both cases now stand to be decided by juries drawn entirely from Faulkner County, rather than a jury pool comprising several counties' residents.
Shawn Daniels, a trial attorney with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, which brought the Finton case, emails: "We anticipate at least one or two new cases to be filed by other law firms who have been on the sidelines watching to see what happened with our case. Although it's impossible to predict what a judge will do, consolidating cases is certainly a possibility." He added that the firm is extremely pleased that the case will be decided by residents of the same county where the spill occurred.