Lawyers representing aggrieved San Francisco fishermen and the oil-spewing Dubai Star tanker spoke this week. They can agree on that. But not on much else, it would seem. After reviewing the $10 million class-action suit filed in San Francisco court on Friday
, the lawyer for the Dubai Star ship and the corporations that own and operate it gave the legalistic version of "meh."
"The owners have reviewed the lawsuit and believe that it is without merit," said city attorney Greg Poulos. "Surveys by the [Coast Guard], state and local agencies and by the spill response organizations have confirmed the spill was contained south of the Oakland Bay bridge. No commercial fishery has been closed as a result of the spill, and the owners do not expect any impact on the commercial crab fishery when it opens later this month. After explaining its position to the plaintiffs' attorney we can confirm he did not disagree and has offered to stay the lawsuit for up to ninety days to allow time to determine if his clients have sustained any damages."
Meanwhile, plaintiffs' attorney Anthony Urie of Seattle didn't recall things that way. Not at all.
Urie says he did offer to hold off on the suit, but only because "we want to work with the vessel owners' insurance to set up a claims process like the one we had in the Cosco Busan case. I believe that is the appropriate protocol under the Oil Pollution Act."
Continued Urie, "I disagree with much of his recollection of our discussion. He's being a good defense attorney. That's all I can say."
Urie represented a number of fishermen in suits over the Cosco Busan oil spill -- truly a case that involved more lawyers than Saturday Night Live has writers. He told SF Weekly that, without details involving just who was liable for a ship colliding with the Bay Bridge, he felt the Dubai Star case ought to be easier to resolve than the Cosco Busan matter.
"I think it's more straightforward," he said.
Somehow, we have a feeling Poulos disagrees.