Mammoth Gulf Oil Spill Trial Begins

Feds want BP to pay handsomely

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Feb 25, 2013 1:24 PM CST

(Newser) – With billions of dollars at stake, the trial to figure out how much more BP and other companies should pay for the nation's worst offshore oil spill began today with the federal government saying the oil giant was mostly to blame for a disaster caused by putting profits ahead of safety. Justice Department attorney Mike Underhill said the explosion that killed 11 and funneled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf resulted from BP's "culture of corporate recklessness." More standout details:

  • The attorney representing individuals and businesses hurt by the spill said BP executives applied "huge financial pressure" on its drilling managers to "cut costs and rush the job," noting the project was more than $50 million over budget and behind schedule at the time of the blowout.
  • Lawyers for BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, the cement contract, will outline their cases later today.
  • Hundreds of attorneys have worked on the case, generating roughly 90 million pages of documents, logging nearly 9,000 docket entries, and taking more than 300 depositions of witnesses who could testify at trial.
  • Unless a settlement is reached, the judge, not a jury, ultimately will decide months from now how much more money BP and other companies involved in the ill-fated drilling project owe for their roles in the environmental catastrophe.
  • BP has estimated it will pay a total of $42 billion to fully resolve its liability for the disaster. But the trial attorneys for the federal government, Gulf states, and attorneys for people and businesses hope to convince the judge that the company is liable for much more.
Click for more on the trial.

In this Sunday, June 6, 2010 file photo, a small oil-covered fish floats on the water's surface at Bay Long off the coast of Louisiana.
In this Sunday, June 6, 2010 file photo, a small oil-covered fish floats on the water's surface at Bay Long off the coast of Louisiana.   (Charlie Riedel)
FILE - In this aerial file photo madeWednesday, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 50 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip, an oil slick is seen as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns. Nearly three years after the deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of...
FILE - In this aerial file photo madeWednesday, April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, more than 50 miles southeast of Venice on Louisiana's tip, an oil slick is seen as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns....   (Gerald Herbert)
Protestors from the National Audubon Institute, the Gulf Restoration Network and other organizations stand outside Federal Court on the first day of the Gulf oil spill settlement trial in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is scheduled to hear several hours of opening statements...
Protestors from the National Audubon Institute, the Gulf Restoration Network and other organizations stand outside Federal Court on the first day of the Gulf oil spill settlement trial in New Orleans,...   (Gerald Herbert)
Protestors from the National Audubon Institute, the Gulf Restoration Network and other organizations stand outside Federal court on the first day of the Gulf oil spill settlement trial in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is scheduled to hear several hours of opening statements...
Protestors from the National Audubon Institute, the Gulf Restoration Network and other organizations stand outside Federal court on the first day of the Gulf oil spill settlement trial in New Orleans,...   (Gerald Herbert)
Protestors from the National Audubon Institute, the Gulf Restoration Network and other organizations stand outside Federal Court on the first day of the Gulf oil spill settlement trial in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is scheduled to hear several hours of opening statements...
Protestors from the National Audubon Institute, the Gulf Restoration Network and other organizations stand outside Federal Court on the first day of the Gulf oil spill settlement trial in New Orleans,...   (Gerald Herbert)
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