About 200 plaintiffs’ lawyers gathered at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on May 20 in Orlando, Fla., for what was billed as the “First Nationwide BP Oil Spill Litigation Conference.” The event was advertised for “plaintiff counsel only,” and organizers were strict about keeping defense lawyers out of the conference. Attorneys got a reminder warning when registering that defense counsel weren’t invited, and an announcement was made at the start of the program that defense attorneys were not permitted to attend.

The reason: The lawyers were “sharing strategic information about how to represent plaintiffs,” said John Romano, co-chairman of the conference and a partner at West Palm Beach, Fla.’s Roman Law Group. Put less mildly, this was a war council, where battle plans were being considered as plaintiffs’ firms launch a full-scale assault on the four companies that are behind the massive oil spill that continues to foul waters off the Gulf Coast.

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