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Panel backs consolidating oil spill lawsuits

BOISE, Idaho — A federal judicial panel meeting in Idaho is considering where to consolidate more than 300 lawsuits filed in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill against BP and other companies.

Twenty-three attorneys argued yesterday before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation over where the cases should be centralized for key pretrial rulings. Although some 2,000 miles from the Gulf, Boise was the scheduled stop for the roving seven-judge panel.

Gulf Coast residents and businesses are suing for severe economic losses. Many want the lawsuits in New Orleans, closest to the disaster. Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are also being suggested.

BP and the other companies favor Houston.

A ruling is expected in August.

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