BP’s Recklessness Was the Cause of the Gulf Oil Spill, Judge Rules

Presiding District Court Judge Carl Barber ruled today that BP’s gross negligence and willful misconduct led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.  With this ruling, BP now faces enhanced civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, which could reach $18 billion.

In his 153-page ruling, Judge Barbier said BP made “profit-driven decisions” during the drilling of the well that led to the deadly blowout.

The judge apportioned blame among the three companies involved in the spill, ruling that BP bears 67 percent of the blame, drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. owns 30 percent blame; and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service is 3 percent at fault.  Transocean and Halliburton were found negligent, but not reckless or grossly negligent.

“These instances of negligence, taken together, evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks,” Barbier wrote.

Barbier heard a total of eight weeks of testimony throughout the trial’s first phase, which was intended to identify the causes of the blowout and apportion blame among the companies involved.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion led to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, lasting 87 days and dumping an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.   BP has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges and agreed to pay $4 billion in criminal penalties.

BP also acknowledged that it hurt businesses throughout the Gulf coast, and negotiated for and agreed to an objective Settlement Program to pay businesses and individuals back for their losses.  Shortly after agreeing, however, BP then turned its back on businesses and attempted – unsuccessfully – to undo the very Settlement Program it created.  Despite such efforts, the Settlement Program is once again fully operational and systematically paying businesses with valid claims for their losses.

BP’s failed legal maneuvering and blame-shifting with regard to the Settlement Program has resulted in one positive – a claim filing deadline extension.  This means, businesses that have not yet been evaluated for a business economic loss claim still have time to do so.  For more information, visit

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