In an order signed just before the Christmas holiday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier officially prohibited BP from claiming any liability limits under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA).
The order was filed in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which Barbier presides over in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
It states that BP and its affiliates "are hereby barred from raising as a defense to any claims by plaintiffs in this multidistrict litigation the statutory limit of liability under OPA."
The OPA mandate limits the liability of an oil company to just $75 million. In October, BP lawyers caused a little bit of a stir at an oil spill MDL status conference when they wouldn't confirm earlier statements that BP would waive the OPA limits.
BP has said on several occasions that it would waive the OPA limits and pay out all legitimate claims stemming from the oil spill.
Barbier's order acknowledges BP's public statements to waive the limits.
The order also states that, by waiving its liability limits, "BP and its affiliates are not admitting anything about their conduct and ... specifically deny that they have engaged in any gross negligence in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident and the resulting oil spill."
The order also states that it does not "affect whatever rights (if any) BP (and its affiliates) may have to seek contribution from other parties that may share responsibility" for the oil spill. The order renders moot a plaintiff motion to make BP adhere to its statements waiving OPA limits.
Federal MDL 2:10-2179