Judge Finds BP Primarily at Fault for Gulf Oil Spill

A federal judge has issued a landmark ruling that finds BP to be primarily responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, finding that they showed reckless negligence while two other companies showed lower levels of negligence and have lower liabilities for the outcome and for paying for the cleanup.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier held a trial without a jury over who was at fault for the catastrophe, which killed 11 people and spewed oil for almost three months into waters that touch the shores of five states.

“BP has long maintained that it was merely negligent,” said David Uhlmann, former head of the Justice Department’s environmental crimes division. He said Barbier “soundly rejected” BP’s arguments that others were equally responsible, holding “that its employees took risks that led to the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.”

The case also included Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co., though the judge didn’t find them as responsible for the spill as BP. Barbier wrote in his decision today in New Orleans federal court that BP was “reckless,” while Transocean and Halliburton were negligent. He apportioned fault at 67 percent for BP, 30 percent for Transocean and 3 percent for Halliburton.

U.K.-based BP, which may face fines of as much as $18 billion, closed down 5.9% to 455 pence in London trading…

The ruling marks a turning point in the legal morass surrounding the causes and impact of the disaster. Four years of debate and legal testimony have centered on who was at fault and how much blame each company should carry.

BP Exploration & Production Inc. is “subject to enhanced penalties under the Clean Water Act” because the discharge of oil was the result of its gross negligence and willful misconduct, Barbier held. BP said it “strongly disagrees” with the decision and will challenge it before the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The suit was filed by a large coalition that included several gulf states and a host of businesses who took big losses due to the spill.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Alverant

    The fact it’s 4 years later and BP is still denying responsibility for killing 30 employees, destroying hundreds of lives, and devastating the eco system for thousands of miles proves just how much power corporations have and how little meaning the word “responsibility” has when you’re rich.

  • Dark Jaguar

    Anyone recall reading about how when general relativity was first introduced, certain groups falsely equated it with “relative morality” and felt that it was sinful in some way?

    Maybe general relativity really DOES say that, not in terms of speed, but in terms of scale. The “larger” an entity a group is, the less moral responsibility it experiences as it approaches the population of the entire planet. “Humanity” can’t be blamed for anything, at the utmost end of the scale.

  • Michael Heath

    Alverant writes:

    The fact it’s 4 years later and BP is still denying responsibility for killing 30 employees, destroying hundreds of lives, and devastating the eco system for thousands of miles proves just how much power corporations have and how little meaning the word “responsibility” has when you’re rich.

    [Heath bolded]

    It’s validated only in a reality where one result out of many can “prove” what’s representative of the entire population. That’s not true in this particular reality, but perhaps it’s true in a parallel universe that’s the mirror image of the Tea Party universe.

  • Michael Heath

    My argument @ 3 applies to Dark Jaguar’s post @ 2 as well.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    What’s the point of Limited Liability if Corporate Citizens can’t avoid all the consequences of your actions? Job Creators didn’t get in to the business just to have some of their profits confiscated by big, intrusive government simply because some mistakes were made! And, in this Obama economy, can we really ignore all the benefits of their so-called “gross negligence”? Did the judge even take in to account of how many jobs the so-called “disaster” created, from mortuaries to law firms to shovel manufacturers? Aside from the victims, this was a victimless so-called “crime”. And does the charity program that gave the citizens around the gulf free fuel and free Corexit for months and months, not to mention the bountiless harvests of eyeless shrimp and fish with freely oozing sores, count for nothing?

    &nbsp

    Mark my words, if their was a chance of BP ever having to pay even a fraction of the full amount, excessive fines like this are going to have a chlling effect on the scale and profitability of actions leading to future negative externalites

  • caseloweraz

    Congratulations to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier for making the right decision. I wish I could say it was the only possible decision given the facts, but we all know that’s not the case.

    Example: City of Neodesha v. British Petroleum. AFAIK there has been no ruling from the Kansas supreme court on BP’s appeal of Judge Creitz’s reversing the jury’s “not guilty” verdict.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    Has Rep. Barton issued another apology to BP yet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    Dark Jaguar:

    Anyone recall reading about how when general relativity was first introduced, certain groups falsely equated it with “relative morality” and felt that it was sinful in some way?

    Look up general relatively on conservapedia. It’s pretty hilarious.

  • http://sidhe3141.blogspot.com JamesY2

    Modus, I don’t think you ever got back to me on this: since you’ve already got so many internets, and I’m a bit short right now, will you take an IOU?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    JamesY2, sure. I’ve been selling them for the money, ironically, to buy an internet.

  • yaque

    /delurk/

    I’ve had this picture in my head for years …

    … a vast steel-vaulted space, rusty beams fading into dusty vagueness … rank after rank of crates … industrial gray shelving crammed with disturbing shapes … oddly bulking canvas draped masses fading off into the distance … an almost inaudible hissing and crackling, sparks and shimmering on the edge of my vision …

    I struggle with the heavy, creaking steel door, finally stumbling out into the fresh air gasping for breath, trembling on my knees.

    I croak out “where the hell is the office?!” clutching the ad torn from a grimy tabloid asking for rental bids for a

    “14th internetz warehouse needed – urgent – running out of space – Modusoperandi”.

    “This has got to be the place!” I groan as I look up at the huge, rusted, guano-encrusted sign:

    “Warehouse 13”

    relurk