Saturday, January 17, 2015

Could BP, Feds settle in massive 2010 oil spill civil case? Experts weigh in |

BP Oil Spill: a Look Back

Federal Judge Carl Barbier has capped at $13.7 billion the maximum fine BP could face in the upcoming penalty phase trial for the 2010 Gulf oil spill.  The court's findings of fact conclude

PARAGRAPH 277. The Court finds that 4.0 million barrels of oil released from the reservoir. After deducting the Collected Oil from this amount per the parties’ stipulation, the Court finds for purposes of calculating the maximum possible civil penalty under the CWA that 3.19 million barrels of oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico.

Settlement?  I doubt it.  BP has fought very hard.  They have substantial grounds for appeal on Barbier's finding of gross negligence - since it was operators negligence, not policy planners who were found culpable.  And the very definition of "gross negligence or willful misconduct" in the Oil Pollution Act Section 1321 is undefined. - gwc

Could BP, Feds settle in massive 2010 oil spill civil case? Experts weigh in |

***Could the latest ruling push both sides into settlement talks?

"Lawyers are intrinsically conservative," said David Logan, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island who has been following the trial. "A settlement gives finality in return for perhaps unrealistic hopes that everything in a complex case will break your way."

Logan said the prospect of a settlement is always a reality in complex litigation. A major ruling like the one on Thursday gives each party a chance to pick up the phone without giving the appearance they lack confidence in their case, he said.

"From this second until this goes to the highest court possible, there is always the possibility of a settlement," Logan said. "That said, there are a lot of angles here that we may not be aware of."

BP reached a $4.5 billion criminal settlement with the Justice Department over the spill in late 2012. That included $525 million paid to the Securities and Exchange Commission for charges the company lied to investors during the spill.
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