BP Gulf Oil Spill Civil Trial Delayed To March 5

Deepwater Horizon Response/CC BY-ND 2.0

Late last week a judge found that BP is liable for civil damages resulting from the Gulf Oil Spill. Now, the civil trial between BP and the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee (the group of lawyers representing spill victims), which had be scheduled to start today, has been put off one week so that settlement talks can continue.

A statement from the PSC says:

This adjournment is intended to allow BP and the PSC more time to continue settlement discussion and attempt to reach and agreement. BP and the PSC are working to reach agreement to fairly compensate people and business affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. There can be no assurance that these discussions will lead to a settlement agreement. (BBC News)

The trial, to be heard by US District Judge Carl Barbier, without a jury, will be held in three phases, the first of which will determine which companies are to blame for the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon and whether any of them engaged in willful misconduct or gross negligence.

In terms of Clean Water Act violations, that determination means the difference between fines of $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled, or $4,300 if gross negligence is involved.

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