April 30, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Two Interesting Articles in The New Orleans Times-Picayune About the End of Phase One of the BP Deepwater Horizon Trial

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The courtroom part of phase one of the BP Deepwater Horizon trial ended almost two weeks ago and the Judge has given parties two months to submit briefs to summarize how they see the evidence in the case.

The Judge specifically asked the parties to address the following questions:

1. What is the standard for finding “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” under the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990?

2. What is the standard for a finding of punitive damages under general maritime law? Is this a different standard than under the Clean Water Act or the Oil Pollution Act, and if so, how?

3. In order to find that a party acted with gross negligence, is it necessary to find that there be at least one single act or omission that equates to gross negligence, or can such a finding be based upon an accumulation or a series of negligent acts or omissions?

4. Can an act or omission that is not itself causal of the accident nevertheless be considered in determining whether a party engaged in conduct constituting gross negligence?

5. In order to find gross negligence, is it sufficient if only employees on the rig are guilty of such conduct, or is it necessary to find that this level of conduct was attributable to shore-based or management-level employees?

6. Does compliance with Mineral Management Services (or other applicable) regulations preclude a finding of gross negligence regardless of whether a defendant knew or should have known that its conduct or equipment was unsafe, or violated accepted engineering standards?

7. Does the fact that a party acted with “industry standards” preclude a finding of gross negligence?

The New Orleans Times-Picay published two stories that provide a good overview of the end of the courtroom phase of the trial and the path forward. The first story deals with the trial and the path forward (CLICK HERE for the article).

The second story outlines the judges order to the parties including the questions asked above (CLICK HERE for that article).

Phase two of the trial is scheduled to start in September and it may be a year before the judge decides on the questions of the case.

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