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Special Master

Courts often appoint Special Masters to assist them in cases involving complex issues.  These issues may include:  case management; pretrial discovery, including resolution of privilege issues; testing protocols; computer modeling; allocating settlement funds to class or mass tort claimants (including development of and implementation of methodology); reviewing the reasonableness of attorney’s fees; allocating attorney’s fees (including resolution of common fund/common benefit issues).  The Academy of Court Appointed Masters has catalogued the many uses of a Special Master in its benchbook entitled Appointing Special Masters and Other Judicial Adjuncts: A Benchbook for Judges and Lawyers.

State and federal courts (including those handling Multidistrict Litigation cases), along with private parties, have appointed Dan Balhoff as a Special Master and other neutral capacities in numerous cases.  These include:

 

     Multidistrict Litigation

•  In re: General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litigation, MDL No. 2543 (S.D.N.Y. J.P.M.L.) (Mediator and Special Master; developed and implemented frameworks for settlement of multiple claimant inventories in case arising out of alleged automotive products liability)

•  In re: FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1873 (E.D. La. J.P.M.L.) (Court-Appointed Mediator and Special Master; allocated multiple settlement funds to tens of thousands of claimants who alleged chemical exposure while occupying temporary housing after Hurricane Katrina; reviewed and allocated attorneys’ fees)

•  In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179 (E.D. La. J.P.M.L.) (Court-Appointed Mediator and Court-Designated Neutral; developed methodology for allocating BP’s $2.3 billion settlement fund to thousands of Gulf of Mexico seafood harvesters who alleged economic damage as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil spill; appointed to investigate and resolve issues surrounding multi-billion dollar business economic loss settlement)

•  In re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2047 (E.D. La. J.P.M.L.) (Court-Appointed Mediator and Special Master; secured commitments from more than 500 defendants to global settlement; had allocation responsibilities for $1.1 billion settlement for case in which homeowners alleged defendants were responsible for installation of defective drywall; allocated common benefit and private contract attorneys’ fees)

•  In re: E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433 (S.D. Oh. J.P.M.L.) (Claims Administrator; administered claims process for settlement arising out of alleged chemical exposure due to water contamination)

 In re: Denture Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2051 (S.D. Fla. J.P.M.L.) (Allocated aggregate settlement fund to plaintiffs who were allegedly injured by defective denture products)

 In re: MDL Litigation Regarding Texas City Refinery Ultracracker Emission Event Litigation, 10-UC-0001 (Tex. 56th Jud. Dist.) (Special Master; allocated settlement funds to thousands of claimants allegedly affected by refinery explosion)


     Other Federal Court Litigation

•  In the Matter of the Complaint of Kirby Inland Marine, LP Owner of the M/V Miss Susan, Kirby 27705, Kirby 27706 Petitioning for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability, 14-1321 (S.D. Tex.) (Special Master; allocated settlement funds to individuals and businesses allegedly impacted by oil spill; allocated common benefit attorneys’ fees)

•  Donald Sadler, et al. v. International Paper Co., 3:09-01254 (W.D. La.) (Special Master, selected to administer mass settlement arising out of alleged environmental contamination)

•  John Burford, et al. v. Cargill, Inc., 05-0283 (W.D. La.) (Special Master; disbursed class settlement funds to thousands of farmers in 47 states who used allegedly defective dairy feed product)

•  Junior Cerdes, et al. v. Cummins Diesel Sales Corp., et al., 06-922 (E.D. La.) (Chief Assistant to Special Master responsible for determining reasonableness of attorneys’ fee request in products liability class action case)


     Other State Court Litigation

•  In re: Honeywell, July 20, 2003 Chlorine Release, 511,626 (La. 19th J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated class settlement funds to several thousand persons allegedly affected by two separate releases from chemical plant; allocated attorneys’ fees)

•  Keisha Desselle, et al. v. Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc., 2010-5885 (La. 12th J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated settlement funds to insurance policyholders in class action requesting payment reimbursement)

•  Mark Bailey, et al. v. Williams Olefins, L.L.C., et al., 73,678 (La. 18th J.D.C.) (Special Master; made recommendations concerning discovery, case management, mediation, and protocols for settlement allocation in mass action arising from plant explosion)

•  Paul Thompson, et al. v. Williams Companies, Inc., et al., 72,701 (La. 18th J.D.C.) (Special Master; made recommendations concerning discovery, case management, mediation, and protocols for settlement allocation in mass action arising from plant explosion)

•  Arthur Schexnayder, Jr., et al. v. Entergy Louisiana, Inc., et al., 28,907 (La. 23rd J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated class settlement funds to property owners in more than 20 parishes against utility company for alleged trespass claims)

•  Noretta Thomas, et al. v. A. Wilbert & Sons, L.L.C., et al., 55,127 (La. 18th J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated class settlement funds to several thousand of residents of and visitors to trailer park alleging ground water contamination; allocated class settlement funds to several thousand landowners alleging chemical pollution claims; allocated attorneys’ fees)

•  Toussaint Battley, Sr., et al. v. Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury, et al., 41,792 (La. 18th J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated class settlement funds to property owners damaged by flood)

•  Kristen M. Rhodes v. BG Estate Servs., Inc., et al., 2001-18355 (La. C.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated class settlement funds to mold exposure claimants)

•  Mark S. Creech, et al. v. Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc., 61,236 (La. 18th J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated settlement funds to insurance policyholders in class action requesting payment reimbursement)

•  Carey C. Abbott, et al. v. Waste Management, Inc., et al., 87,182 (La. 21st J.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated settlement funds to residents allegedly affected by environmental contamination)

•  The Legislative Audit Advisory Council v. Peter Galvan, et al., 621,026 (La. 19th J.D.C.) (Special Master; reviewed more than 10,000 pages of documents to determine validity of privilege claims)

•  Rita H. Holzenthal, et al. v. Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans, 2001-16969 (La. C.D.C.) (Special Master; allocated settlement to residents allegedly affected by New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board project)

•  Ivan Guidry, et al. v. City of Denham Springs, 28,907 (La. 21st J.D.C.) (Court-Appointed Arbitrator; allocated settlement funds among claimants who were allegedly affected by waste water contamination)

 In re: Vulcan Litigation – April 2001 Incidents, 69,388 (La. 23rd J.D.C.) (Chief Assistant to Special Master; allocated common benefit attorneys’ fees)

•  Terry Giaque, et al. v. Clean Harbors Plaquemine, LLC, et al., 60,195 (La. 18th J.D.C.) (Chief Assistant to Special Master; responsible for case management and resolution of discovery issues, including privilege claims)

•  Del Dean, et al. v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. d/b/a GlaxoSmithKline, 82,490 (La. 15th J.D.C.) (Allocated settlement funds to property owners and residents who alleged arsenic exposure)

•  Succession of Louise Lyons, P95337 (La. 19th J.D.C.) (Court-Appointed Expert with case management responsibilities)

•  Succession of Ervin Ryland, P94195 (La. 19th J.D.C.) (Court-Appointed Expert with case management responsibilities)
 

Dan Balhoff leads Perry, Balhoff, Mengis & Burns' Special Master practice.