US judge delays ruling after first phase in BP's Deepwater trial

18 April 2013 17:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The first phase of BP’s federal civil trial concluded on Wednesday with the judge postponing a ruling on whether the UK energy giant was “grossly negligent” in the events leading up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, a US Department of Justice spokesman said on Thursday.

US District Court Judge Carl Barbier granted a request to extend the time for BP’s lawyers to respond to the complaints and issued a 6 May deadline for them to submit briefings.

“There’s a huge amount of evidence obviously in this case, including, of course, the last eight weeks of trial; but beyond that, there’s a huge amount of evidence that was introduced by way of depositions and documents that are even beyond the trial evidence,” Barbier said at the conclusion of the first phase.

Barbier gave the lawyers 60 days to submit post-trial briefings and another 20 days to file reply briefs, after which he would review the evidence and make a decision.

The second phase of the trial will begin in September to determine the oil flow rate and quantification of oil spilled, which will be used to assess penalty.

Barbier ruled in February that the court would reduce the oil spill figure and not include the 810,000 bbl of oil that BP claimed it prevented from entering the Gulf of Mexico.

Previously, BP had agreed to a $4bn (€3bn) criminal settlement, as well as a $525m civil settlement for claims made by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Separately, BP reached an economic- and property-damage settlement with several people and businesses who sued the company following the spill. Claim payouts have totalled over $8.7bn.

In addition, three of BP’s managers and a former engineer also face criminal charges.

($1 = €0.77)

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By: Tracy Dang
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