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Eyes turn to BP as Halliburton settles most Gulf disaster lawsuits

  • Halliburton’s (HAL -0.2%) agreement to settle most of the lawsuits stemming from its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill refocuses attention on the still-awaited court ruling that will decide the extent of BP’s (BP -1.5%) liability.
  • U.S. District Judge Barbier, who conducted a non-jury trial over fault for the Macondo disaster, is weighing whether BP and its co-defendants HAL and Transocean (RIG -1.7%) acted with gross negligence; the rulings will help define the scale of future payments, as well as the limits.
  • If Barbier decides BP acted with gross negligence, and accepts the U.S. estimate of the size of the spill, the company faces a maximum fine for violation of the Clean Water Act of $18B; if he rejects gross negligence and accepts the BP estimate, the maximum fine would be $2.7B.
  • BP has reserved $3.5B for civil penalties under the Clean Water Act and has not increased the reserve, the company said in its most recent quarterly filing.
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Comments (8)
  • doc47
    , contributor
    Comments (1335) | Send Message
     
    "Gross negligence" seems to be part of BP's Mission Statement and Business Model!
    2 Sep 2014, 04:28 PM Reply Like
  • oldsaltsailor48
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    Can anyone tell me when We will know how much BP will have to pay? Any dates?
    2 Sep 2014, 04:29 PM Reply Like
  • mhmp24
    , contributor
    Comments (24) | Send Message
     
    Hi oldsaltsailor, i have the same question for a long time...
    2 Sep 2014, 04:48 PM Reply Like
  • oldsaltsailor48
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
     
    I really do belive this whole court thing will take appx. 10 years. Before its all done and over with. Just like (XOM) did in Alaska. For sure (XOM) didnt pay much. I just hope that (BP) doesnot cut its div.
    10 Sep 2014, 06:56 PM Reply Like
  • JBBanker
    , contributor
    Comments (128) | Send Message
     
    I believe Judge Barbier can give his ruling anytime but believe it will be later this year. Judge Barbier is the only one to really know. It is known that the court has January, 2015 as the start time for the penalty phase of the trial. So my guess is the judgement should be before the penalty phase or by year end so to speak.

     

    I do believe BP will NOT be found to be "grossly negligent". I have listened to all the court reports from witnesses and experts, and believe there was ZERO intention on BP's part to create a situation even remotely considered "grossly negligent". The worst that I saw from the trial actually relates to Haliburton and there actions prior to the trial, and during the trial in regards to complying with "discovery" and "evidence". They were admonished by the judge for their handling of the whole "cement mix" evidence that mysteriously was found late in the trial as well as the fact that they tried to hide their computer modeling of the "stabilizer data" that showed adding more stabilizers did NOTHING to the computer models in terms of added stability. So it seems to me there has only been one company out of three that has demonstrated questionable and damaging actions and in actions, Haliburton would be its name!
    2 Sep 2014, 05:16 PM Reply Like
  • Cautiously
    , contributor
    Comments (272) | Send Message
     
    "So it seems to me there has only been one company out of three that has demonstrated questionable and damaging actions .... [and] Halliburton would be its name!"

     

    Whatever the evidence suggests about Halliburton, or Transocean, your comment about "questionable and damaging actions" ignores reality with respect to BP. For BP, the open Phase I question is not whether it was negligent or not, but whether it was grossly negligent. BP more or less admitted its negligence in the trial, and wisely so. After all, it had already plead guilty to multiple criminal felony counts associated with the deaths of workers on the platform, and agreed to a $4B criminal fine.
    2 Sep 2014, 05:42 PM Reply Like
  • Cautiously
    , contributor
    Comments (272) | Send Message
     
    To the extent HAL's settlement with the class plaintiffs was motivated by a realistic concern about its exposure to their punitive damage claims -- which would have required, as a first step, a Phase I finding of "gross negligence" against HAL -- then BP must be doubly concerned about a looming "gross negligence" ruling against it.

     

    Remember, the Phase I trial lineup pitted (1) US/DOJ against BP (with the DOJ arguing that BP was grossly negligent, so the eventual CWA penalty against BP could be maximized), and (2) the class plaintiffs against BP's contractors, RIG and HAL (with the class saying that RIG and HAL were grossly negligent, in hopes of getting an award of punitive damages from them down the road). The essence of BP's trial defense against the DOJ was that all three defendants were guilty of "ordinary" negligence, but none of them was grossly negligent. So if the evidence realistically pointed to a "gross negligence" finding against one of BP's contractors, then it would almost surely require a gross negligence finding against BP, as the hands-on "owner" for whom the contractors worked.
    2 Sep 2014, 05:29 PM Reply Like
  • Cautiously
    , contributor
    Comments (272) | Send Message
     
    Looks like the ruling is out, with BP grossly negligent, but the conduct of both HAL and RIG was found to be only ordinary negligence. The court also said no punitive damages would be awarded against BP, and given the ordinary negligence finding, none could possibly have been awarded against HAL. So much for closure HAL obtained via its $1.1B settlement, which turned out to be completely unnecessary.
    4 Sep 2014, 02:18 PM Reply Like
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