For Immediate Release, August 10, 2010
Contact: Charlie Tebbutt, (541) 344-8312
Court Decision Means Federal Cases Against BP Will Be Heard in Gulf Courtrooms
Center’s $19 Billion Suit Against Company Slated for New Orleans
TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity applauded a ruling today requiring that hundreds of lawsuits filed against BP for the Gulf oil spill – including the Center’s $19 billion case for Clean Water Act violations – be heard in New Orleans. The decision by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation means that judges and juries that live in the area most affected by the spill will decide how to hold BP and its contractors accountable for the disaster. The panel rejected BP’s request to have the cases heard in Houston, where its American headquarters are located.
“It’s important that these cases be heard by those living with this disaster every day, and not at the location that’s simply most convenient for BP,” said Charlie Tebbutt, the attorney working on the Center’s case. “Now we must get down to the details of finding out everything BP has known but failed to tell the public. We will hold the company fully accountable for the devastation it has caused.”
In June, the Center filed a lawsuit against BP and Transocean alleging violations of the Clean Water Act for dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of oil and toxic chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico. The Center is seeking the maximum penalty possible against BP. If the violations are found to have been the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct, the maximum fine is $4,300 per barrel spilled. That means BP’s liability could be about $19 billion.
The penalties would be paid to the U.S. Treasury and available for Gulf restoration efforts.
“The government still hasn’t taken any criminal or civil action against BP. Marshes have been devastated, wildlife wiped out and the full extent of the damage is still years from being known. This case will ensure that BP pays for every drop of oil spilled and can’t walk away from the damage that’s been done,” Tebbutt said.
The lawsuit also seeks a complete accounting from BP of what type – and in what amounts – of hazardous chemicals were mixed into the oil that gushed into the Gulf, including benzene, arsenic and naphthalene.