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BP Oil Spill Trial Scope Limited to Four Fatalities

February 10th, 2016

A district judge ruled that a BP oil spill trial of a rig supervisor will focus on only four of the eleven fatalities attributed to the 2010 disaster. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. ruled that the deaths of the seven other workers killed in the explosion were not relevant to the BP oil spill trial of rig supervisor Robert Kaluza. Federal prosecutors argued that they needed to present evidence regarding the other fatalities to give the jury “a complete picture of the facts.” Mr. Kaluza’s attorneys requested that any evidence regarding the fatalities be excluded.

Details of the BP Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. The explosion caused an underground pipe to rupture, spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers died during the explosion, and at least forty others were injured. The BP oil spill was the largest single environmental disaster in U.S. history, as crude oil leaked from the broken pipe for nearly three months. The oil giant reached a settlement with local, state and federal agencies last year totaling over $20 billion.

BP Oil Spill Trial Focused on Pressure Test

Judge Duval’s ruling in the upcoming BP oil spill trial will focus on the deaths of four workers. These four men worked alongside Mr. Kaluza while conducting a “negative pressure test” minutes before the explosion occurred. Prosecutors will argue that Mr. Kaluza and another rig supervisor, Donald Vidrine, made crucial mistakes during the test, which led to the explosion and subsequent oil spill. Judge Duval told reporters he would reveal the names of the four workers during the BP oil spill trial to the jury for clarification.

Defense: No Mention of Fatalities At BP Oil Spill Trial

Attorneys for Mr. Kaluza told the judge that they did not want any mentions of the eleven fatalities at the BP oil spill trial. They maintain that prosecutors had dropped manslaughter charges against their client prior to the current BP oil spill trial. The current trial focuses on charges against Mr. Kaluza for violating the federal Clean Water Act. As part of the company’s settlement with federal authorities, BP is scheduled to pay more than $5 billion in fines for their Clean Water Act violations.

BP Oil Spill Trial Excludes Email Messages

Another concession defense attorneys won for their client’s BP oil spill trial comes from the exclusion of potentially damaging email messages Mr. Kaluza sent the night of the disaster. Documents related to the investigation into the spill showed an exchange of email message between Mr. Kaluza and an acquaintance. Prosecutors at the BP oil spill trial wanted the messages included, as they show what they consider an uncaring attitude about those who lost their lives in the disaster. Defense attorneys argued that the messages were “unfairly prejudicial” against Mr. Kaluza.

Source: NOLA.com

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NOTE: This blog post is a news story and does not imply an endorsement of the Amaro Law Firm by any parties mentioned herein.

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