BP litigation goes Hollywood: Baldwin sues Costner over centrifuges

Alejandro de los Rios Dec. 29, 2010, 4:22am



In the latest court action involving the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, actor Stephen Baldwin has filed a lawsuit against actor Kevin Costner over the sale of a centrifuge to BP.

Baldwin and his friend, Spyridon Contogouris, are suing Costner, Westpac Resources, Patrick Smith and Rabobank in federal court in New Orleans.

The lawsuit claims that Baldwin and his friend were tricked into selling their stake in the company that markets a centrifuge developed by Costner in Nevada Corporation (CINC), which was sold to BP for oil spill cleanup.

The suit claims that Contogouris was hired almost 10 years ago to help market CINC's technology. Marketing had been unsuccessful and Costner ended up selling his stock in CINC to a man in Nevada. But when the Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, Contogouris saw the potential to sell CINC's centrifuge.

Baldwin became involved when Contogouris was unable to get a hold of Costner and then learned that Costner had sold his stock. Baldwin and Contogouris, along with New Orleans attorney John Houghtaling, formed a joint venture to market the technology.

The suit states that disagreements as to how to sell the technology – whether to make it a one-time deal or long-term relationship with BP – developed and it wasn't until Costner spoke before Congress in June about the centrifuge that BP became interested in buying the technology.

The suit claims that the defendants then withheld information about an $18 million down payment BP made to buy a number of centrifuges. Believing the joint venture had failed, the plaintiffs sold their shares. The defendants allegedly bought out the plaintiffs with the money paid by BP.

The next day, the suit alleges, BP purchased 32 centrifuges for more than $52 million. Shortly after, the suit claims that the defendants "secretly" opened a new bank account to use "as their own personal piggy bank."

The plaintiffs are suing for misrepresentation and securities fraud. Contogouris is claiming $10.64 million in damages and Baldwin is claiming $3.8 million in damages.

New Orleans attorneys Henry King, Timothy Madden and Monica Manzella filed the suit on behalf of Baldwin on December 22.

Federal Case 2:10-cv-04609

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