BP appears in court to enter criminal plea over 2010 spill

Pollution Fines

BP set aside $3.5 billion to pay potential Clean Water Act fines, using its own estimate of 3.2 million barrels and a maximum fine of $1,100 per barrel without gross negligence.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who’s overseeing much of the spill litigation, has set Feb. 25 for a nonjury trial to apportion fault and decide whether BP is liable for gross negligence.

BP reached a settlement with most non-government plaintiffs in March, agreeing to pay an estimated $7.8 billion. That settlement postponed the first trial date to determine liability for the disaster. Barbier is considering whether to approve the settlement.

Florida, Texas

The settlement excluded claims of financial institutions, casinos, private plaintiffs in parts of Florida and Texas, and residents and businesses claiming harm from the Obama administration’s moratorium on deep-water drilling prompted by the spill. It also doesn’t cover federal government claims and those of Gulf Coast states Louisiana and Alabama, or lawsuits against co-defendants.

BP and lawyers representing non-government victims of the spill won preliminary court approval of the proposed partial settlement agreement in May and argued for final approval at a hearing on Nov. 8. A decision is pending.

The criminal case is U.S. v. BP Exploration and Production Inc., 12-00292, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans). The criminal cases against the individuals are U.S. v. Kaluza, 12-cr-00265; and U.S. v. Rainey, 12-cr-00291, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

The government civil case is U.S. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., 2:10-cv-04536, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans). The lawsuit is part of In Re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

Bloomberg News

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