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First phase of BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial comes to close

22 April 2013

The first phase of the huge BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial in New Orleans came to a close on April 17. US District Judge Carl Barbier Junior has heard eight weeks of testimony about whether BP or its drilling partners should be held liable for the 2010 disaster. Given the complexity of the case, observers say it could be another year before Barbier issues a ruling on the first phase.

This will outline the percentage of liability to be assigned to BP or its partners, and whether any of the companies should be found to have committed gross negligence or willful misconduct, which could result in a four-fold increase in Clean Water Act fines.

A few days later, the state of Florida filed a lawsuit on April 20 against BP and contractor Halliburton over the Deepwater Horizon spill, becoming the fourth state to seek damages for the 2010 disaster.

The suit, among other things, faults BP for not changing the batteries on the rig's blowout preventer. Halliburton was blamed for installing faulty cement barriers that were supposed to gird the well against oil pressure.

The suit was filed on the third anniversary of the tragedy that killed 11 rig workers in the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is now the fourth state to sue over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; Mississippi sued on April 19, following Louisiana and Alabama. 

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