UPDATE - 11:00 a.m.
(MONTGOMERY)—Today marks a giant step forward in addressing the devastation caused by the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.
In his order from the first phase of trial, District Judge Carl J. Barbier confirmed what Alabama has argued all along - that BP’s “reckless” conduct caused the spill, and that BP’s conduct amounted to “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct.”
This finding has two positive effects for Alabama.
First, BP must pay significantly enhanced civil penalties to the United States—penalties that will amount to billions of dollars—and Alabama will receive a portion of these penalties via the Congressional RESTORE Act.
Second, BP may be liable to Alabama for both compensatory and punitive damages with regard to the State’s economic losses. While Judge Barbier ruled that BP would not be liable for punitive damages under Fifth Circuit law (the law which governs trials in New Orleans), he noted that BP would be liable for punitive damages under the law of other circuits. Armed with this finding, Alabama is preparing to prosecute its case for compensatory and punitive damages against BP, a case which we will argue and believe will be heard by a Montgomery jury beginning in late 2015.
Ensuring that those damaged by the 2010 spill are made whole, while punishing those who caused that damage, has been my top priority since taking office. Today’s events in New Orleans bring us closer to achieving our goal, and I look forward to taking the next steps back here in Alabama.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A federal judge has ruled that BP's reckless conduct resulted in the nation's worst offshore oil spill, leaving the company open to billions of dollars in penalties.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling Thursday could nearly quadruple the amount of civil penalties for polluting the Gulf of Mexico with oil from BP's Macondo well in 2010.
Barbier presided over a trial in 2013 to apportion blame for the spill that spewed oil from April 20 to mid-July 2010. Eleven men died when the well blew wild; BP already has agreed to billions of dollars in criminal fines.
Barbier says BP bears 67 percent of the blame for the spill. He says drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. takes 30 percent of the blame, and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service takes 3 percent.