Judge: BP was grossly negligent in Deepwater Horizon oil spill

BP can expect to bear most of the responsibility for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and created a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That message was clear when a U.S. district judge released a ruling in the first phase of lengthy litigation to determine which companies are liable for the catastrophe.

BP's case is part of multidistrict litigation also involving Transocean, which owned the rig, and Halliburton, which provided services on the rig. According to an article in Texas Lawyer, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier issued a ruling earlier this month that BP is 67 percent liable, Transocean is 30 percent liable and Halliburton is 3 percent liable.

The judge also found that BP was grossly negligent. Transocean and Halliburton were found only negligent.

In a statement on its corporate website, BP said it would appeal the ruling. It said that proving gross negligence has a high bar "that was not met in this case."

Halliburton, meanwhile, reached a proposed settlement with most of the plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation. The $1.1 billion settlement is subject to court approval.

The judge's ruling concludes the first phase of the multidistrict litigation, which is a federal legal procedure designed for complex cases such as the BP oil spill. The next phase of the lawsuit is expected to start in January 2015 and will determine the penalties required under the Clean Water Act.

Source: Texas Lawyer, "Judge Assigns Lion's Share of Responsibility to BP," Miriam Rozen, Sept. 4, 2014