A huge oil slick approaches the beach in Orange Beach, Ala., Friday, July 2, 2010. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident is expected to come ashore over the July 4th weekend. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge in New Orleans is trying to streamline the legal process for more than 30 lawsuits arising from the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
An order filed this week from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier temporarily consolidates the lawsuits for pretrial purposes.
The suits represent only a fraction of the more than 200 lawsuits filed in courts in Louisiana, Texas and elsewhere since the rig BP was operating exploded on April 20 and sank.
Barbier says suits pending in his section will be administratively consolidated pending a ruling by a multidistrict panel on how to handle all of the suits filed nationally. That panel meets July 29.
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