More plaintiffs could be added to blowout suit

Lafayette — Silver’s Travel Center in Breaux Bridge, which has sued the company whose well blew out and forced the closure of I-10 last November, is hoping to recruit another 200-plus businesses and property owners as fellow plaintiffs.

No date has yet been set for a hearing on the matter.

Attorneys for the truck stop are seeking class action status for potential plaintiffs that would include not only businesses along I-10 in St. Martin Parish, where traffic was closed, but also those along sections of I-49 and U.S. 190 that experienced traffic jams when used as a detour.

The proposed class could include more than 200 plaintiffs in St. Martin, Lafayette, St. Landry, Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes, according to filings in U.S. District Court here.

Silver’s filed the federal lawsuit last year against Texas-based Beusa Energy, seeking damages for lost business during the time traffic was diverted away from the Atchafalaya bridge. Most of I-10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge was closed for 10 days in November while crews capped a well blowout next to the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge near Ramah.

The St. Martin School Board was also considering a lawsuit to recover tax receipts that were down because of slow business during the road closure but Superintendent Richard Lavergne said recently that legal action now appears unlikely.

“It doesn’t appear that we have had a significant amount of loss,” Lavergne told reporters.

The oil company has already agreed to pay Lafayette police officers $44,480 for off-duty work directing traffic at closed interstate interchanges.

Beusa has denied legal responsibility for the blowout, arguing the accident was an act of nature beyond human control.

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