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In re Chevron USA
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
109 F.3d 1016 (1997)
Approximately 3,000 people who lived and owned homes in an area in Texas (plaintiffs) sued Chevron USA, Inc. (Chevron) (defendant), alleging that Chevron had contaminated the area’s soil in the 1920s. The residents claimed that the contamination had caused personal injuries, deaths, and property damage. To try to resolve all the related cases in a reasonably timely manner, the district court ordered the residents and Chevron to each choose 15 cases for bellwether trials. The 30 sample cases would then be tried individually and the verdicts used to determine the common issue of whether Chevron was liable for the alleged contamination injuries in all 3,000 cases. Chevron objected to the district court’s selection method, arguing that the parties’ choices would not necessarily result in a representative sampling of the entire group of cases and, therefore, that the plan was not a fair way to determine a common issue as important as Chevron’s liability in all the cases. After the district court refused to certify the issue for an interlocutory, i.e., early, appeal, Chevron filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the Fifth Circuit, asking for relief from the district bellwether-trial plan.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Parker, J.)
Concurrence (Jones, J.)
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