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.
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