Trial began Feb. 25 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana between individuals affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and British Petroleum (BP). The other corporations involved are the rig owner Transocean and well cement services provider Halliburton. The parties bringing suit against BP include the US Department of Justice (DoJ), states bordering the Gulf Coast, and individuals who did not agree to an earlier settlement agreement. The trial is to be conducted in phases with the first part focusing on determining what caused the blowout of the well and assign percentage blame on the companies involved. Other issues that are to be resolved are BP’s level of negligence in conjunction with the incident and the amount of oil that escaped into the Gulf of Mexico, both elements are critical to determine BP’s penalties under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The commencement of the trial against BP and other corporations is the most recent development in a long series of legal battles that have arisen from the Deepwater Horizon Crisis. In January a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana accepted a plea agreement between BP and the DoJ for the company’s criminal liability in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Earlier in January, Transocean Ltd. pleaded guilty to “negligently discharging oil into the Gulf of Mexico,” in violation of the CWA, and will pay $1 billion in civil penalties and $400 million in criminal penalties for its role in the Deepwater Horizon spill. In December a federal judge approved a final class settlement between BP and those who experienced economic and property loss stemming from the spill.
From Jurist, Feb. 25. Used with permission.
NOTE: The $4.5 billion settlement reached in November, approved by the court last month, was in the criminal case against BP. The $7.8 billion settlement reached in December came in a civil suit for economic and property damage. The new trial is a second civil suit concerning damage to natural resources and health claims.