Aug 13

(CNN) — The state of Alabama has filed suit against BP, Transocean and others in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to Alabama Attorney General Troy King.
In a statement announcing the lawsuit filed Thursday, King said, “Some will, no doubt, sound the alarm that the lawsuit is premature. As Alabama’s lawyer, I say that if, anything, based on BP’s broken promises, their history of saying one thing and doing another, and now, new information that they have been secretly working to gain a legal advantage, further delay can only further damage our people.”
King said thousands of Gulf Coast residents are waiting while their claims languish in the legal system.
BP told CNN Friday it doesn’t comment on litigation and possible litigation. A spokesman said he had seen a statement about the suit, but there weren’t many details in it, and BP wouldn’t comment anyway.
Attorney General King pointed out BP is spending millions on public relations and advertising, and is hiring “all the best expert witnesses, not because they need their services, but so the experts will be unable to testify against BP.” King says BP is selling off assets — perhaps, to prevent courts from being able to use the assets to satisfy a judgment. King also alleges BP is preparing a report to argue it was not grossly negligent, which would limit its liability.

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Jul 19

Attorney Mark Lanier argues potential BP investors such as Apache have no exposure to the oil company’s liabilities from the leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Jul 10

Filed under Gulf of Mexico Spill Lawyers

By Rowena Mason, Energy Correspondent
Published: 8:09PM BST 09 Jul 2010
full article here

Anadarko, a 35pc partner in the well, on Friday refused to pay its $272m (£180m) bill outright claiming that BP’s actions “likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct.”
“Although we have notified BP that we are withholding reimbursement to BP at this time, we remain committed to working with BP in good faith to achieve a satisfactory resolution,” an Anadarko spokesman said.

BP expressed “disappointment that they have failed to live up to their obligations. “Anadarko’s refusal to pay their share will in no way affect BP’s commitment to stop the leak, clean up the spill, and pay all legitimate claims as quickly as possible,” a spokesman added.

Mitsui, a 10pc partner, did not respond to BP’s request for $110m but said it had until July 12 to give an answer.

Both Mitsui and Anadarko, as co-owners of the well, could face legal action along with BP and contractors such as Transocean and Halliburton.

On Friday, Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, said the criminal investigation into the Gulf Coast oil spill may target more companies than simply BP.

“There are a variety of entities and a variety of people who are the subjects of that investigation,” Mr Holder said. “For people to conclude that BP is the focus of this investigation might not be correct.”
The news comes as BP confirmed that oil will tomorrow flow unchecked into the Gulf of Mexico once more, as it attempts to increase the amount being captured from its leaking well.
It will remove the current containment cap and replace it with another, more effective device. The energy major is attempting to raise the oil piped to the surface from 25,000 to 53,000 barrels and eventually up to 80,000.

Depending on the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf, the new cap could effectively contain all or most of the flow.
BP’s share price ended its four day winning stretch by closing down 2.2 at 364.8p.

Its market value has fallen from £123m to £68.5m since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 men and triggering the leak on April 20.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s administration was last night considering ways to reinstate a ban on deepwater drilling that an appeal panel ruled was illegal on Thursday.

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Jul 06

Rebecca Mowbray, The Times-Picayune

Attorneys working on the litigation dealing with the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil plume can expect to deal with novel questions of punitive damages, economic injuries, and the interaction of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 on the existing body of state, federal and maritime law, participants in the Gulf Coast Oil Symposium said Tuesday.

The symposium, organized by the New Orleans Bar Association at the Sheraton New Orleans hotel, is a measure of just how engrossing the legal issues facing plaintiff and defense attorneys alike are expected to be. “We’ve never done a seminar in response to a specific event,” said Loretta Larsen, executive director of the bar association.

Attorneys who represented plaintiffs in the litigation over the Exxon Valdez tanker grounding in 1989 offered their words of wisdom.

Minneapolis attorney Karen Hanson Riebel said that time is the enemy. By the time the litigation settled, 20 percent of her 32,000 class members had died. After nearly two decades of litigation, class members received an average of $15,000 each for their losses.

Riebel said that fishing catch records from the state will be extremely important for establishing people’s economic damages. She and her legal team also used population loss, fishery closures and impact on the market and seafood prices.

Richard Lockridge, a principal of the firm where Riebel works, recounted what he described as the “disgraceful” path of court rulings that knocked down the punitive damages from the original 1994 jury verdict of $5 billion to $507.5 million in 2008.

In its 2008 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said that for maritime cases, there must be a one-to-one ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages. But Lockridge said that the opinion also noted that reckless steps to enhance profits could make an argument for greater punitive damages, and he believes that the nation’s high court might support punitive damages of three times the compensatory award in the Deepwater Horizon case, because early investigations show multiple corporate mistakes. The 3-to-1 ratio is what most states with caps on punitive damages allow.

“A careful reading of that case suggests that if the facts are more egregious than in the Valdez, the ratio might go as high as 3:1,” Lockridge said.

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Jun 28

From PBSNewsHour-YouTube

Obama administration officials and BP executives came under fire during congressional hearings over the consequences of the oil spill and the ongoing cleanup efforts. Jim Lehrer gets two points of view, from Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson and Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

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