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Bristow First Assembly of God v. BP p.l.c.

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

November 6, 2019

BRISTOW FIRST ASSEMBLY OF GOD, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BP p.l.c., et al., Defendants. STEPHEN D. LANE, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
BP p.l.c., et al., Defendants. OLEN J. LEE, et. al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BP p.l.c., et al.,

          OPINION AND ORDER

          FRANK H. MCCARTHY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendants Marathon Petroleum Corporation's and Marathon Oil Corporation's Motion for Protective Order, [Dkt. 227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227, 234, 226], [1] is before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for decision, the matter has been fully briefed. Plaintiffs have filed a Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Reply brief, [Dkt. 239, 246, 238], which is DENIED, as hereafter explained.

         In this action Plaintiffs seek damages for environmental contamination allegedly resulting from the operation of a refinery and tank farm operated on Plaintiffs' property and areas adjacent thereto, located in Bristow, Oklahoma. The refinery and tank farm is variously referred to as the Wilcox Refinery, the Wilcox/Lorraine Refinery, or the Wilcox site.[2] As to Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Marathon Oil Corporation (hereafter Marathon Defendants) Plaintiffs' Amended Complaints, [Dkt. 68, 76, 72], allege that predecessors in interest to the Marathon Defendants owned or conducted refining operations on and adjacent to Plaintiffs' properties from December 1927 to September 1936. In their Amended Complaints Plaintiffs state:

The two Marathon Defendants are a split of their predecessor, Marathon Oil Corporation, and are the surviving and controlling entities, through split, acquisition or merger, of predecessor entities which owned or operated lands and/or facilities contributing harmful and hazardous contaminants that are now commingled with the pollutants contributed by the “Operational Defendants, ” as defined below, which said contaminants and pollutants have injured Plaintiffs. As the surviving successor, Marathon has, at all times through the history of the properties that are the subject of this litigation, exercised exclusive dominion and control over its and its predecessors' assets, actions and liabilities associated with the lands, facilities, and operations relevant hereto.

         [Dkt. 68, pp. 4-5, ¶ 4](footnote omitted). The Marathon predecessors in interest are identified as follows in a footnote to the previously quoted passage:

Marathon Oil Company was an owner and conducted operations on and adjacent to the [Plaintiffs'] property from approximately August of 1930 to September of 1936.
The Ohio Oil Company was an owner and conducted operations on and adjacent to the [Plaintiffs'] property from approximately December of 1927 to August of 1938. The Ohio Oil Company became Marathon.
Transcontinental Oil Company was an owner and conducted operations on and adjacent to the [Plaintiffs'] property from approximately December of 1927 through August of 1930. Transcontinental Oil Company became Marathon.

         [Dkt. 68, p. 4, n.3].

         Plaintiffs have served Rule 30(b)(6) Notices of Deposition on the Marathon Defendants. [Dkt. 227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227-13, Dkt. 227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227-14]. The Notices of Deposition contain a six page attachment that defines terms and sets out areas of testimony to be addressed by corporate representatives. The Marathon Defendants object to some of the defined terms and to the scope of inquiry set out in the Notices. Then Marathon Defendants seek a protective order limiting the Notices of Deposition in the following respects:

(i) prohibiting inquiry into Areas of Testimony related to the Transcontinental Refinery or Transcontinental Site;
(ii) limiting the organizational scope of inquiry to the divisions of the Marathon Defendants encompassing the Wilcox Refinery and limiting Plaintiffs' inquiry into the Marathon Defendants' corporate mergers, acquisitions, managerial decisions, policies, procedures, and other corporate and organizational matters to only those directly related to the Wilcox Refinery;
(iii) limiting the geographical scope of inquiry to the Wilcox Refinery;
(iv) limiting the temporal scope of inquiry to 10 years; and,
(v) striking from all Areas of Testimony the phrase “including, but not limited to.”

         [Dkt. 227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227');">227, p. 7].

         Transcontinental Refinery and Transcontinental Site

         Plaintiffs seek to inquire about what is known as the Transcontinental Site, which ...


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