Alabama Files BP Oil Spill LawsuitsAug 13, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
The state of Alabama has filed two lawsuits over the BP oil spill. According to an Associated Press report, one names BP as a defendant, while the other names Transocean, Halliburton and other companies associated with the spill.
Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which exploded on April 20, killing 11 men and spawning the worst oil spill in US history. Halliburton was a contractor aboard the rig.
The lawsuits accuse the defendants of damaging Alabama’s coast and economy through “negligent or wanton failure to adhere to recognized industry standards.” According to the Associated Press, Attorney General Troy King filed the complaints against the wishes of the state’s Republican governor, who had wanted to give BP and the other companies the opportunity to settle claims out of court.
But King, also a Republican, says BP has already broken too many promises. “As Alabama’s lawyer, I say that, if anything, based on BP’s broken promises, their history of saying one thing and doing another, and now, new information that they have been secretly working to gain a legal advance, further delay can only further damage our people,” he told the Associated Press.
King charged that BP is lining up the best expert witnesses to keep plaintiffs from using them in litigation. According to the Associated Press, he also said BP’s recent moves to sell some asset could be a tactic to prevent an American court from reaching them to satisfy a judgment.
The lawsuits, which were filed in federal court in Montgomery, seek both punitive and economic damages, but do not state a dollar figure. A spokesperson for the governor’s office told the Associated Press the state is still compiling a list of economic damages that it will submit to BP soon.
The Alabama lawsuits are just the latest to be filed against BP and other companies involved in the Gulf oil spill. More than 300 personal injury, wrongful death, economic loss and environmental damage lawsuits stemming from the BP oil spill have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in US District Court in New Orleans. The BP oil spill lawsuits will be presided over by U.S District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana. The judge has already scheduled an initial conference for organizing the lawsuits in his court for September 17.
Separately, securities lawsuits stemming from the spill have been consolidated in under U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison in Houston. Those suits include civil securities fraud claims, shareholder derivative actions, and claims by employees over losses in company retirement savings plans.