Claims and Litigation

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Who is liable for the disaster?

Several companies were involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Which company (or companies) is liable for a loss depends on the nature of the claim. Companies involved include:

PartyRole in Deepwater Horizon
BP Majority owner and operator of the Macondo well; hired Transocean to provide the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and a drilling crew
Transocean entitiesOwner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
Anadarko entitiesMinority owner of the Macondo well
MOEXMinority owner of the Macondo well
HalliburtonPerformed cementing work on the Macondo well

NOTE: All claims against Cameron (manufactured the blowout preventer), Weatherford (manufactured the float collar), and M-I (provided drilling mud products) have been dismissed. 

How are the claims managed?

When multiple legal cases arise out of a single incident, they may share “questions of fact”—that is, issues about the details of the incident itself. To increase efficiency and prevent inconsistent rulings, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation may bring together cases with common questions of fact into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Two separate MDLs have been created:

1. MDL No. 2179 In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon”

MDL 2179 is a consolidation of hundreds of lawsuits regarding impacts of the oil discharge, including lawsuits based on economic losses and medical claims, federal civil penalty claims, and state and local government claims. Judge Carl J. Barbier of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana oversees this MDL.

The court is currently in the middle of a trial that is addressing, among other things, the federal government’s claim for CWA civil penalties. Two phases of that trial have already been completed. In September 2014, the court found that the oil spill was the result of BP’s “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct”; BP will therefore be subject to enhanced civil penalties.The exact amount of those penalties will not be determined until after the third phase of trial, which is expected to begin in January 2015.

2. MDL No. 2185, In re: BP Shareholder Derivative Litigation

MDL 2185 is a consolidation of the securities lawsuits brought by shareholders against BP. They allege, among other things, that BP misled investors about the safety of its Gulf operations and its internal risk-management practices, resulting in dramatic investment losses for BP shareholders following the spill.

Judge Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas oversees this MDL.

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DISCLAIMER: This overview is prepared for informational purposes only to inform individuals who are not involved in the litigation. It is not prepared for litigation and is not legal advice. Individuals with potential claims should consult with their own attorney. The information on this page is current as of December 2013.