The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 30, 2013

Federal trial over Gulf oil spill to resume

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The trial resumes Monday for the federal litigation spawned by BP's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with a focus on the company's response to the deadly disaster.

At the start of the trial's second phase, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is expected to hear two hours of opening statements from lawyers for BP and for Gulf Coast residents and businesses who claim the spill cost them money.

The second phase is divided into two segments: The first segment will explore the methods BP employed to cap the well. The second is designed to help Barbier determine how much oil spilled into the Gulf from BP's blown-out well.

The first phase ended in April after Barbier heard eight weeks of testimony about the causes of the blowout.

BP insists it was properly prepared to respond to the disaster, but plaintiffs' attorneys will argue the London-based global oil company could have capped the well much sooner if it hadn't ignored decades of warnings about the risks of a deep-water blowout.

The plaintiffs' lawyers, who are teaming up with attorneys for the five Gulf states and two of BP's contractors for the second phase of the trial, also claim BP repeatedly lied to federal officials and withheld information about the volume of oil that was flowing from the well.

"It should pay the price for its choices. BP should be held accountable for the lengthy delay caused by its fraud," they wrote in a pretrial court filing.

BP maintains its spill preparations complied with every government requirement and met industry standards. But the April 20, 2010, blowout of its Macondo well a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and 50 miles off the Louisiana coast presented "unforeseen challenges," the company's attorneys wrote.

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