File this one
under ho-hum appeals with multibillion dollar ramifications.. BP has asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for reconsideration of the trial judge’s ruling that it was “grossly negligent” in its role in the the 2010 oil release in the Gulf of Mexico. In September, the trial judge found that BP’s “profit driven decisions” prior to release amounted to gross negligence. With that finding, BP’s potential liability has been estimated at about $18 billion.
In the ruling, Judge Carl Barbier found BP’s actions showed “an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks.” The main reason behind this finding was that several “profit driven” decisions by BP purportedly prompted the release of oil. The decisions at issue included drilling in dangerous conditions for the final 100 feet of depth and not running an additional test of the cement used to seal the well. In its reconsideration motion, BP argued that some of the so-called profit driven decisions that formed the basis for the gross negligence finding were based on theories given by an expert whose testimony had been excluded by the court. During the trial, the judge excluded one expert’s theory as to the cause because BP had no prior opportunity to counter that evidence. Nevertheless, when the judge outlined the basis for his gross negligence ruling, he included factors that would have been relevant only if excluded theory had been admitted into evidence.
It’s difficult to say, at this point, whether this is a legitimate gripe or a potential $18 billion technicality. Either way, it’s got big money ramifications.