April 27, 2018

BP Oil Spill Trial Delayed

The case of “In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010” was just delayed to March 5, 2012 to give the parties more time to reach a settlement. The very complicated litigation was supposed to start on Monday, February 27, 2012. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier announced the delay, raising hopes that a settlement may be reached.

The suit was brought by the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which represents fisherman, seafood processors, property owners, restaurateurs and hotel owners who claim their livelihood was damaged by the April 20, 2010 spill. More than 100,000 plaintiffs are included in the lawsuit. You can see the timeline for the trial’s developments here.

Other defendants in the trial include Vernier, Transocean Ltd, and Halliburton Company. They are suing each other as well. While BP has accepted responsibility for the accident, they have set aside $20 billion for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. But the plaintiffs say more compensation is needed. Ken Feinberg, the lawyer who paid out the 9/11 settlement fund, has distributed almost $7 billion from that fund, mostly in payments of $5,000 or less.

The trial is supposed to answer two questions: if Transocean can use a maritime law that limits the amount of money it can be sued for, and how the blame can be divided among the defendants.

Food Poisoning Bulletin has reported about the concern over the safety of Gulf seafood, including the Natural Resources Defense Council’s skepticism over the FDA’s seafood testing. While some senators from the Gulf states and the government claim that the seafood is perfectly safe, others have doubts. It may take years and extensive testing to discover what, if any, effect the spill has had on the Gulf and its residents.

The United States government has also sued BP for violating the Clean Water Act. And the Department of Justice is looking at criminal charges in the case.

Eleven people died and almost 5 million barrels of oil were spilled in the accident, making that disaster the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Millions of gallons of chemicals, such as Corexit, were dumped in the Gulf to mitigate the effects of the spill; no one is sure what damage, if any, that has caused to the water, plants, and animals.

The plaintiffs claim that while the surface oil has been collected or has dispersed, subsurface plumes and mats of oil still exist in the Gulf, threatening ecosystems and therefore the Gulf economy.

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